Scream of Fear (Blu-ray) (1961)

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Released 5-Oct-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1961
Running Time 81:26
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Seth Holt
Studio
Distributor
ViaVision Starring Susan Strasberg
Ann Todd
Ronald Lewis
Christopher Lee



Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Clifton Parker


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

†††† Penny (Susan Strasberg) is a neurotic young woman who has been confined to a wheel-chair for nine years due to a horse riding accident. Her parents had divorced when she was young and Penny lived with her mother until her death. And now Penny has been invited to come to live with her father and her step-mother Jane (Ann Todd) in the south of France. When Penny arrives at Nice airport she is met by her fatherís chauffeur Robert (Ronald Lewis) who tells her that her father is away on business. At the house Penny is surprised to find that Jane is extremely friendly and welcoming, the antithesis of a wicked step-mother, although Jane is unable to tell Penny when her father will return.

†††† That night Penny sees a light in the summer house. When Penny investigates she sees her fatherís corpse in a chair; she panics and her wheelchair runs into a pool. Penny is saved by Robert and she is later visited by Dr Gerrard (Christopher Lee), a friend of her fatherís. Needless to say, no corpse can be found and Pennyís vision is considered a hallucination. But over the next few nights Penny hears a car and piano music when there is nobody there and again sees the corpse of her father. Is Penny mad or, as she starts to believe, are Jane and Dr Gerrard trying to drive her to madness for their own ends, related to her fatherís will. Only Robert is sympathetic and ready to help.

†††† Scream of Fear is a black and white film, one of the earlier films from the Hammer studio. Christopher Lee is on record as saying that Scream of Fear was the best film Hammer ever made, which is a huge call as Scream of Fear is not really a horror film but a mystery psychological thriller that has a Hitchcockian feel; one thinks of Rear Window (1954), for example. Scream of Fear commences with the body of a woman being fished from an alpine lake, the identity only being revealed at the end, and there are numerous red herrings and a number of twists, some of which are more obvious than others, but in the end all is resolved, and explained, satisfactorily.

†††† Scream of Fear is not a film for those who demand blood, gore or copious jump scares. It was directed by Seth Holt, who only has a handful of features to his credit including another Hammer film Blood from the Mummyís Tomb in 1971. Here he directs with restraint and some style, with low angles and long takes which build tension and only a couple of reveals of the corpse or the bang of a door for scares. But as a slow building mystery it works well, with Susan Strasberg and Ann Todd excellent even if the male roles fare less well - Lee with a French accent tends to take one out of the film.

†††† Scream of Fear is now over 50 years old so it is old fashioned, of course, the emphasis on mystery and atmosphere rather than easy scares and the noir lighting in the black and white print means that it holds up well for its age and remains an entertaining psychological mystery / thriller.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† Scream of Fear is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

†††† The film looks good in HD. The exteriors, especially the opening, are soft and grainy but interiors are firm with good grey scales and nice shadow detail. Brightness and contrast are consistent. I noticed one scratch on the stock footage of an aircraft landing and the occasional very minor dirt mark but otherwise marks and artefacts were absent. Overall, I was very happy with the look of the film and doubt it has looked better.

†††† There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† The audio is an English Dolby Digital mono at 448, which although lossy represents the original theatrical sound.

†††† Dialogue is easy to understand while the effects were predictably flat. The score by the prolific Clifton Parker (85 credits including Sink the Bismark! (1960) and D*** the Defiant! (1962)) was a bit obvious but did add to the tension.

†††† There is no surround or subwoofer use of course.

†††† I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

†††† Lip synchronisation looked fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††††There are no extras. The silent menu offered ďPlayĒ as the only option.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† The only listing on Amazon for a Scream of Fear Blu-ray is this Australian release.

Summary

†††† Scream of Fear is a well-crafted and appealing psychological mystery / thriller, released on Blu-ray here as part of ViaVisionís very welcome Hammer Horror Collection. Although not a horror film as such, Hammer fans should enjoy it.

†††† The film looks good on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, November 28, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
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