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The Tingler

A movie directed by William Castle

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A spine-tingling good time!

  • Jul 24, 2011
***1/2 out of ****

It's almost impossible to imagine that any horror fan would not find "The Tingler" to be a fun, admirably campy horror flick. It opens with a monologue of warning from its director, William Castle, who seems to be telling us of what a gift it is to be able to simply scream. Watching the film only helped me to realize, furthermore, what he meant by this.

Castle made his movie for fans of the genre, and fans of science-fiction too. It combines the two genres like some sort of miracle; an ingeniously fun and stupendously absurd movie that might exist only for the sake of being quirky. But some movies can get around just by being strange, weird oddities; this is one of them. I thought it was quite spectacular; crafty, campy fun. And that's all it needs to be. I went crazy for this thing.

The problem at the core of "The Tingler" comes from the ever-so-tempting curiosity of man. A pathologist (Vincent Price) discovers through much research that there is a parasite-like creature within all of us. It resides in our spinal area; feeding off of our fear, and controlled/restrained only by our screams.

Price's character names his discovery "The Tingler". The creature has a good chance at killing its host, as it curls up slowly as it feeds off of our terror. That explains that "tingling feeling" in our spines when we are afraid, I suppose. Anyways, back to the story. The creature evades its captors many times, eventually finding its way into a theater full of people - young and old alike.

So I've basically described the entire plot of "The Tingler", and without a spoiler warning. I didn't provide such an "essential thing" because there's really no way of writing this review without spoiling a good deal of the "story". It's not how the story is told and where it does, it is about the execution; and let me tell you, this film is unlike most of its kind. It isn't flashy, it has good-scene-after-good-scene, and Price is a creepy, eerie presence as always.

My favorite scene in the film was one where one of the characters' mute wife witnesses a red hand rise from an equally red bath-tub. This film is remembered because the entire film, except for this sequence, is presented in black-and-white colors. This change-in-color gives the film a shockingly surreal feeling, and we all know how awesome surrealism is. In the end of the day, it's always welcome.

But this is a monster movie, so I should be getting to its critter about now. If you're wondering whether the "Tingler" itself ranks amongst some of the best movie monsters, it doesn't. It's like a huge, somewhat deformed centipede; and it is admittedly creepy and icky, as it should be, but the only real problem is that there's only one of them; so it can't be all that scary. But maybe I shouldn't be complaining; this is a rather wonderful film. For its kind, it is flawlessly crafted, competently acted, well-edited, and so on and so forth.

So I like the idea behind "The Tingler". I also liked the direction and execution. I also liked the self-aware silliness of the script. This is a film crafted with such charm, that it's impossible for a guy like me to resist its guilty-pleasures. It is a monster movie, made how I like them; discreet, nicely-crafted, and in black-and-white, which shall always be king. I recommend "The Tingler", as well as you're willing to suspend your disbelief and go along for the ridiculous ride. The film may indeed have many flaws, but I saw very few. It is what it is; does what it does, and for what it does, it does it well.

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July 24, 2011
Ryan, you are getting better and better with your reviews. I love the range you are displaying with your choices of film. Thanks!!
July 28, 2011
Much thanks.
More The Tingler reviews
review by . November 02, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Price & Castle were like Barnum & Bailey!     Cons: the monster, pretty lame     The Bottom Line: "It leaves no marks in spite of sparks   And so touch has become the Tingler   Touch is the Tingler"   Blondie     What a tremendously campy film starring Vincent Price as the mortician for the prison system, Judith Evelyn as the deaf mute silent film theater owner, Philip Coolidge as her husband, …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


This delightful gimmick film from producer-director William Castle stars Vincent Price as Dr. Chapin, a scientist who discovers a caterpillarlike parasite that grows in the human spine when someone is afraid and that, unless they scream, can grow large enough to kill them. He solemnly dubs this creature the tingler. Philip Coolidge plays the owner of a nearby cinema who befriends the doctor and whose deaf-mute wife suddenly receives all sorts of shocks, like the sight of a bathtub full of blood with a hand reaching out from it. Since she can't scream, she dies, and Chapin gets his hands on her oversize tingler. When it eventually escapes inside the movie theater, the film within the film, and then the film itself, stops for an announcement from Price, out of character, urging the audience to scream their heads off. Castle originally had random seats in theaters equipped to deliver small electric shocks at this key moment, and he hired women to faint and ushers to carry them out, all in his determination ...
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Director: William Castle
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Release Date: July 29, 1959
MPAA Rating: Unrated
DVD Release Date: September 07, 1999
Runtime: 1hr 21min
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