The Tingler

1959; b&w

Directed by William Castle

Starring: Vincent Price, Judith Evelyn, Darryl Hickman, Patricia Cutts, Pamela Lincoln & Philip Coolidge

Released the same year as House On Haunted Hill, The Tingler once again combines the respective talents of William Castle and Vincent Price. However, in an effort to keep the audience on it's toes, so to speak, this time the use of "Percepto-vision" was employed; as opposed to "Emergo-vision." (For those in the audience not familiar with film terms / gimmicks Castle made up as he went along, Percepto-vision involves buzzers hidden in certain theater seats, while Emergo-vision involves a skeleton on a string flying over the audience at an appropriate time a la Tommy Lee's drum kit on whatever Motley Crue tour had the biggest budget for drum kit gimmicks.) Believe it or not, Percepto-vision is but one of the gimmicks employed over the course of the film which also features, among other things, what is reported to be the first ever movie mention and ingestion of LSD, a literal blood bath filmed in blazing HG Lewis-esque color, and of course, the Tingler itself. Not the seat buzzer thing but the bug like creature that lives inside us all and attaches to one's spine during moments of extreme fright, killing it's already terrorized victim by crushing their spine. Yeah, I never heard of this creature either. Fortunately Vincent Price's character, Dr. Warren Chapin, knows all about it and explains it to a fella he meets accidentally, who unintentionally helps name the Tingler, and further moves the plot along by introducing Chapin to a woman who will unknowingly play a huge part in the doctor's research - his wife. An easily frightened woman who happens to be a deaf mute. (Who owns a silent movie theater; love that!) Oh wait, I forgot to mention why her mute-ness is important. This evil creature capable of causing such horrific fright and damage has it's own Achilles Heel. Something that also lives within us all... well, most of us... the ability to let out a simple blood curdling scream. (See this is why the easily frightened mute woman makes such a great scientific find.) Actually one scream only kind of immobilizes the creature. Two or three seem to kill it though and, according to William Castle's imagination, truly frightened people scream at least two or three times in a row. Easily explaining why death by Tingler isn't one of the world's leading causes of mortality. Despite the implausible plot, and the fact some of the more colorful aspects of Castle filmmaking obviously don't translate quite as well out of the theater, his films hold up surprisingly well and are just about always worth revisiting. The Tingler is no exception.

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