Gimmicks used to be a huge thing in horror movies back in the 1950s. They were used all the time in these low budget horror films to conjure up scares, word-of-mouth, and good publicity to sell a movie that wasn’t necessarily any good. In 1959, filmmaker William Castle (House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts) was a pioneer in using these gimmicks. He was known for paying actors to attend movie screenings and scream and or faint during the film to cause a stir. In House on Haunted Hill, Castle rigged a fake skeleton to fly through actual movie theaters to scare the audience. He was a genius for sure, way ahead of his time. In 1959 though, he made a film called ‘The Tingler‘, which starred Vincent Price. His gimmick for this film was to use some of the budget to attach buzzers to theater seats to simulate scares and screams at certain moments in the movie. It worked perfectly and this is the type of movie where this gimmick succeeds.
‘The Tingler’ follows a doctor (played by Vincent Price), who discovers that everyone has a centipede-like parasite attached to the bottom of their spine. When in fear, this parasite does its bidding until it kills you unless you release a scream. One of these parasites gets loose into a crowded movie theater and wreaks havoc on a ton of people, however, there is a murder mystery involved too, involving a supernatural mute/deaf woman. It’s still a fun film some 60 years later. The video presentation and audio mix from Scream Factory are excellent and there are some good bonus features to boot as well, which are listed all out below.
- NEW Audio Commentary by author/historian Steve Haberman
- NEW I Survived The Tingler – an interview with Pamela Lincoln
- NEW Unleashing “Percepto” – an interview with publicist Barry Lorie
- Scream for Your Lives! William Castle and “The Tingler” – vintage featurette
- William Castle’s Drive-In “Scream!” audio
- Original “Scream” Scene
- The original 1959 theatre lobby recording
- Theatrical Trailer
- Still Gallery
Please listen to the review in podcast form below.