In one of the very best of William Castle's popular B-horror offerings, the matchless Vincent Price stars as an obsessive pathologist who discovers the existence of a creature that lives in the human body, grows when its host experiences extreme terror and can only be diminished by the noise of a scream!
Despite its notoriously poor special effects (strings are quite visible!) and Castle's conventional direction, this kitsch classic is enlivened by compelling performances, a fantastic premise and another of Robb White's cunning, unpredictable plots, which he churned out for most of Castle's best pictures. Price is at the top of his form as the misguided scientist, and although his performance of an acid trip (the very first in film history) isn't even remotely realistic, his expressed panic certainly is.
Always keen to promote his movies with gimmickry as a supplement to his own craftsmanship, Castle had vibrating electric buzzers installed in the seats of random audience members, which were activated whenever a scream in the movie occurred. Paid shills were also planted in the audience to scream during key moments. Even the cinematography was touched by Castle's ambition: splashes of bloody red color in a crucial scene hideously complement the B&W photography.
While it's hardly as effective a horror movie as it was a half-century ago, The Tingler is still great fun, for both its hilarious flaws and legendary leading man make this required viewing for anyone who still cares about light, enjoyable genre pictures and magnetic screen acting. There might be some potential for a remake of this, but while the effects could certainly be improved on, who could possibly replace the Merchant of Menace?
***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. … more
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, … more
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 ...