Saturday, October 8

31 Days Of Horror: Day 7

The Tingler
Dir: William Castle
Starring: Vicent Price and Judith Evelyn

To sit in a packed theater and enjoy a William Castle feature on opening night in the 50’s would probably be a memory I would never forget, and would probably bore to death everyone who would listen. This was “experience” movie watching, full of gimmicks and articulated atmosphere’s. It was also the beginning of the “horror host”, which as many genre fans know holds a special place in our collective memories. Who could forget Elvira Mistress of the Dark, The Crypt Keeper, Joe Bob Briggs, Rhonda Sheer, Vampira, Dr. Creep…all influenced by the William Castle experience. The more popular Castle features like House on Haunted Hill and 13 Ghosts might overshadow this film, but The Tingler has one of the best introductions of them all. Castle calmly tells the audience they are going to experience terror and shocks, unknown to the audience that most theaters were rigged with buzzers in the seat, Castle explained the only way to escape was to “SCREAM”. For the time, that kind of introduction was unheard of and added an element unfamiliar to the horror genre. The Tingler is full of fun images, extreme close-ups, shadow imagery, monster perspective, and the interaction of the film with the audience (like the crawling monster on the screen and Vincent Price’s voice over to the audience). It’s low brow, gimmicky horror, that still fulfills.  

There is a theater called The Royale in Mesa, Arizona that specializes in the showmanship of this kind of feature. Incorporating actors and a host named Dr. Shock who introduces the feature. It’s a new concept I believe will find great success with future screenings, the potential for this kind of experience is considerable.

Genre fans take note of the showmanship of a William Castle feature, the influence this kind of film has had on the genre can be seen throughout past and current horror films. For the time, this kind of feature was cutting edge and ground breaking in some regards; definitely give this feature a look. Day 7, Up all Night with Castle Cinema.

Shock Cinema 
@The Royale 

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