Scream of Fear (1961)

This is the odd man out among the films on the Icons of Horror collection; it’s in black and white, it’s a contemporary story, and it’s not a gothic tale. Really it would’ve sat better on the Icons of Suspense set along with that surprising number of other films set in the south of France. Still, here it is, and not half bad it is too… Our heroine is a young lady in a wheelchair, Penny, going to stay with the father she hasn’t seen in ten years and the stepmother she’s never met at all; her mother’s died a few years earlier and her best friend has just died under odd circumstances, so she’s possibly a little bit fragile. It doesn’t help that the old man’s apparently gone away somewhere just when she’s coming home, and it helps even less that Penny keeps seeing the old man’s corpse cropping up in various places around the house before vanishing. Is she going mad? Is stepmummy pulling some sort of trick? Is Bob the chauffeur just a bit too good to be true? And what exactly does Christopher Lee’s spurious French accent have to do with it? These questions and more—well, apart from the one about the missing sports car—will be answered sooner or later in this entertaining Jimmy Sangster special; there is a plot twist which I don’t suppose will come as a great shock to anyone paying attention, and one after that which isn’t awfully surprising either, but Sangster manages one more on top of that which I’ll admit to not expecting and which is rather good. If Scream of Fear is a bit misplaced on this collection, it still makes for a nice conclusion to it.

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