A wealthy former mental patient goes home to her estate to rest and recuperate. While walking the grounds one day she hears the screams of a woman coming from underneath the ground who has ... See full summary »
Olivia de Havilland,
Writer Jimmy Sangster says on the audio commentary for the Anchor Bay DVD of The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) that producer Aaron Spelling thought "A Taste of Evil" was awfully similar to the earlier Sangster-scripted Scream of Fear (1961), a.k.a. "Scram of Fear". Sangster basically admitted that it was the same script, with characters and settings changed to American ones. See more »
The year of the film is 1971. Susan has been away for seven years. That means that she left in 1964. The styles depicted in the beginning of the movie, which takes place in 1964 supposedly, are early seventies. Also, Barbara Perkins hair is very wavy. The actress who plays young Susan has very straight hair. And, the young girl's hairstyle is early seventies not sixties. Plus, Barbara Stanwyck's character seems to have not aged at all in seven years. See more »
"A Taste of Evil" focuses on a woman, Susan, who returns to her family estate after having been institutionalized following a sexual assault that she experienced as a young girl in the woods outside the home. Soon after arriving home, however, visions, flashbacks, and sinister occurrences galore begin to intrude on her life.
I was actually surprised by how darkly and disturbingly this film begana young girl is sitting inside a playhouse built by her parents, isolated in the woods. As she draws a picture of her Raggedy Ann doll, a man enters the doorway, his features obscured by the sunlight. "Who are you?" she asks. The camera turns, the clatter of the table echoes through the scene, and the dolls are thrown across the room onto the bed as the girl screams bloody murder. Sound rough for a television film? I think so. Especially for being in the early seventies.
Based on Jimmy Sangster's Hammer-produced "Scream of Fear," "A Taste of Evil" was also scripted by Sangster, an produced by Aaron Spelling. Like all of the glorious made-for-television films of the decade, "A Taste of Evil" is wonderfully atmospheric, with its obvious staged interiors, as well as the moody photography of the mansion exteriors (John Llewellyn Moxey, who later directed the phenomenal Christmas horror tele-flick, "Home for the Holidays," directs here with a keen eye on mood). There are some fantastic scenes in the woods post-Susan's return, as well as nightmarish sequences and appearances of her apparent assailant.
The film benefits greatly from having a phenomenal cast; Barbara Stanwyck leads as the matriarch, while Barbara Parkins is adequately emotive as the unstable woman. Neither performances are award-worthy by any means, but both manage to muster an appropriate chemistry. Roddy McDowall is a welcome presence as the psychiatrist, and William Windom is sleazy and sinister as Susan's drunken stepfather.
Overall, this is an enjoyable and at times legitimately suspenseful film. It is also daring enough to tackle such a topic as child rape, and the understated yet unflinchingly brusque opening sequence establishes a no-holds-barred attitude from the outset. The film's plot twists are also surprisingly wicked. An enjoyable watch for a rainy evening; recommended highly to fans of the made-for-television horror and thriller films of the 1970s. 8/10.
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