Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Speaking of The Tingler, the 1959 flick from producer/director William Castle is a Halloween essential--a genuine good-time frightener notorious for the gimmicks that accompanied its original theatrical run.

Starring the legendary Vincent Price, The Tingler was filmed in Percepto!, a gag that entailed Castle rigging random movie theater seats with small buzzers for unexpected audience surprises.

At the climax when the Tingler escapes into a movie theater, the film would appear to break on its reel, revealing the creature's shadow moving through the light projected onto the movie screen. The theater went completely black next, while Price's overhead voice warned, "The Tingler is loose in THIS theater! Scream! Scream for your lives!" On cue, the projectionist would activate the buzzers, "tingling" select audience members.

In addition to the shocks, Castle also attached the above introductory warning to the film, spliced in a blood-red sequence to boost a particularly gruesome moment, parked ambulances outside of theaters, stationed fake nurses in lobbies, and paid plants to scream and "faint" at opportune moments.

Genius. Absolute genius.

The Tingler is just one of Castle's many gimmick-graced films, of course. For more, check out The William Castle Story here. You can also read the original Percepto installation manual provided to theater owners here (praise be to TCM for this gem)!

-Phil Morehart

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