A Taste of Evil (1971)

Born in Argentina, the British director John Llewellyn Moxey directed so many films that have ended up on our radar, like The City of the Dead (Horror Hotel) to The House That Would Not DieCircus of FearThe Night StalkerHome for the HolidaysNightmare In Badham CountyWhere Have All the People Gone? and so many more.

In this effort, he’s working from a Jimmy Sangster script. Sangster is also a talent who has created more films than you realize, including The Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula for Hammer and Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?The LegacyScream, Pretty Peggy and tons of 1970’s American TV.

Susan Wilcox (Barbara Perkins, AsylumValley of the DollsThe Mephisto Waltz) was assaulted when she was just 13, during a family party. Her rich family sent her away to Switzerland, as she was so upset that she couldn’t speak. Now, years later, she’s back home, where her mother (Barbara Stanwyck) has married another man, Harold Jennings (William Windom, Dr. Seth from Murder, She Wrote).

Soon, she returns to the woods and the cabin where she was attacked as a child and feels like someone — maybe Harold — has followed her. Now, she keeps seeing him outside her window and finds his dead body in her bathtub. Her mother thinks that perhaps she should go back to Switzerland, while only the family friend John (Arthur O’Connell, Wicked Wicked) and Dr. Michael Lomas (Roddy McDowall) able to offer any aid.

This movie gets dark quick. One night, Susan is chased through the woods by the dead man and runs into her old cabin, discovering a rifle. As the man who may have attacked her as a child enters, she shoots him, killing Harold. That’s when the truth emerges — her mother has always hated her, as she took attention away from her marriage. And it turns out that old family friend John? Yeah, he’s the guy who attacked her back when she was 13.

That’s not the end of the story. There are still plenty of twists and turns, all in a compact 73 minutes,

Producer Aaron Spelling thought A Taste of Evil was similar to another Sangster’s film, Scream of Fear. The writer admitted that it was the same story, just updated to America. It also owes a debt to Les Diaboliques.

As always, I wish that more TV movies were available on streaming or DVD. I can find them via the grey market, but I’d really like to have these sitting on my shelf.

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