The Tingler (1959)

William Castle has long been known for his gimmicky horror movies, but only one of them apparently made it into the 101 Horror Movies and that is The Tingler.

I won’t lie, I laughed out of sheer joy a number of places in this film. It very much wanted to encourage the idea of screaming during the film’s presentation, because according to Mr. Castle, who introduces the film, it may save your life!

The couple follows three couples, though only two of them get any real screen time. The first couple includes the wonderful Vincent Price, and his devious wife.

Price plays Dr. Warren Chapin  , a pathologist, who is studying the concept of fear. He believes that a physical byproduct of fear is created in our bodies, and can only be destroyed by a physical release of that fear, say like… a scream.

The other couple runs a movie theater specializing in silent films, and Ollie Higgins’ wife, Martha is a deaf-mute. This is something that catches Chapin’s eye, because to his way of thinking, she doesn’t have a physical release valve for her fear.

When Martha dies from her fear, after having suffered from a series of horrific dream like hallucinations, the most stand out of which is a colorized tub filled with red blood in an otherwise stark black and white film – quite a shock.

Since she was unable to release her terror, the physical side effect of her fear remains. It is a parasitic creature that lays along the spine of the host, and grows with each new scare.

Chapin removes this disgusting creature, an elongated, centipede-like thing with pincers and contains it, calling it, The Tingler.

Since its host died, unable to release its terror, it’s unstoppable, and will kill anyone it catches up to, unless you SCREAM!!

As these things do, the creature escapes, and finds its way into the theater, making the film very meta for the viewers of the film during its original release. Apparently, some of the seats in the theaters were rigged to give a quick electric shock, causing people to scream.

It’s odd that all through the climax the screen goes dark, and though one can hear Price talking to the people in the movie, it also works as Price addressing the viewer. He urges you to save your life by screaming!!

This movie ended up being a lot of fun, and of course with Vincent Price  you’re guaranteed a good time.

William Castle made a slew of films, and a number of them were very gimmicky, this one, would have to be the best of the bunch, and it was a lot of fun seeing it. It almost finishes up my time in the 50s with this book, and moves me forward to a number of films that I have heard of, seen and own, and am looking forward to revisiting in the future… As well as a number that I haven’t.

Stay tuned…

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