Tuesday, September 4, 2018

THE TINGLER (1959) Blu-ray review

The Tingler (1959) d. William Castle, (USA)

“Scream! Scream! Scream for your lives!!

Fresh off the success of House on Haunted Hill, producer-director-huckster extraordinaire Castle, screenwriter Robb White and star Vincent Price re-teamed the same year to serve up this minor horror classic. Price’s pathologist discovers that every living person has a mysterious organism that, sparked by fear, takes possession of our backbones. When he manages to extract the creature from a recent victim, it resembles a centipede-like creature armed with cruel pincers and extraordinary, bone-cracking power.

White’s script skillfully incorporates numerous plot elements, including Price’s conniving, two-and-three-timing wife Patricia Cutts, experiments with acid trips, and Judith Evelyn’s emotionally fragile deaf/mute cinema owner, which keep the barely tenable plot skating along, assisted mightily by Castle’s brisk pacing and Price & Co.’s droll commitment to the hokum. The b/w film’s singular color sequence still manages to wow nearly 50 years later, and to see the (literally) showstopping finale in an actual theater filled with terrified patrons is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

While perhaps more historically famous for introducing the world to “Percepto,” Castle’s inspired gimmickry of attaching tiny rotor blades beneath selected theater seats – giving unsuspecting audience members a “tingle” at orchestrated moments – this is a supremely entertaining fright flick in its own right, one that should not be missed. (By the way, if you think you’ve seen Evelyn before, you probably have – she played “Miss Lonelyhearts” in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.)

Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release is absolutely worth the upgrade for Castle fans who have been holding off for whatever reason. The newly recorded audio commentary by author/historian Steve Haberman is packed with trivia about the cast and crew – almost to distraction, in that he’s often so busy rattling off their various credits and background that the onscreen action of the film itself goes  mostly unmentioned.

The new interview, “I Survived The Tingler,” with actress Pamela Lincoln, who plays our attractive young love interest Lucy, is charming both in subject and delivery. Of course, no discussion of the film would be complete without a sidebar about its famous seat-strapped stunt, and “Unleashing Percepto” with publicist Barry Lorie fits the bill. There are also alternate versions of the “Scream” scene (including one for drive-in audiences), as well as the theatrical trailer and a still gallery.

The Tingler is available now on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and can be ordered HERE:



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