The Tingler

March 9th, 2009 by Coventry and Vomitron

The Tingler   tingler dvdcr 84x120 reviews horror Director: William Castle
Writer: Robb White
Release year: 1959

Sream until you like it.

The Tingler   offscreen 2009 mini logo reviews horror Why is it that shivers run down our spine when we are scared? Following Dr. Warren Chapin’s amazing discovery, fear is a living and breathing thing that grows as tension rises… and is called: The Tingler.

As a dual review, we present Coventry‘s viewing of the film, which he previously saw on dvd, interwoven with Vomitron‘s comments, who had the pleasure of witnessing the theatrical screening at this year’s edition of Offscreen Film Festival (as part of a William Castle tribute).

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(Plot spoilers may follow…)

The Tingler   william castle 254x300 reviews horror Coventry: Wouldn’t it have been great to be there in theaters, back in 1959, when horror director and first class showman William Castle presented his film to the audiences personally and kept some “tingly” surprises after hand for a handful of unsuspecting visitors? Even now, nearly fifty years later, you can still clearly notice that his inventive gimmicks and interaction with the public contributed a whole lot to the still legendary status and reputation of The Tingler.

Vomitron: Even know, nearly fifty years later, I can safely say the spirit of William Castle is still alive and well. I’m sure the man must be looking down on us with the most satisfying grin on his face. For this tribute screening, the people from Offscreen & Cinema Nova re-created Castle‘s unique Percepto gimmick, hereby wiring certain seats of the audiences with electrifying buzzers.

Coventry: This is a pretty great film, with a rather intelligent and original story -- albeit extremely far fetched -- and a couple of really effective ‘shock’ sequences … literally! The basic premise is perhaps a bit goofy, but still this film maintains a continuously tense atmosphere and especially Vincent Price‘s flawless performance adds a great deal of tension to the wholesome.

Vomitron: I can only express the same degree of admiration for a talented actor like Vincent Price. Admittedly, the premise of The Tingler is The Tingler   tea for three 300x166 reviews horror more than just a little ridiculous (a small creature that lives inside of us, located at the vertebrate, growing as we get frightened and causing us to scream), but Price manages to sell the idea greatly with a dead-serious performance.

Coventry: Price gives image to the devoted scientist and autopsy doctor Warren Chapin, who desperately wants to study & comprehend the effects and consequences of “fear” on the human body. He and his docile assistant David are convinced that some kind of creature, feeding on fear, is living inside each and every one of us, only our natural reflex reaction of screaming prevents the creature from developing and taking over. The research reaches a giant breakthrough turning point when Dr. Chapin witnesses a deaf-mute woman nearly dying from fear, because she can’t express her emotions verbally. This has them concluding that the creature -- the Tingler -- really exists, and Dr. Chapin starts thinking of ways to capture one.

Vomitron: Talking about capturing the Tingler… Before Dr. Chapin actually manages to capture one (the one inside the deaf-mute woman, first having the poor woman endure the worst acid trip imaginable before ultimately dying of fright), our good doctor tried a different experiment. The Tingler   price tripping 300x165 reviews horror We first see his assistant David giving him a dosage of LSD, bought at the local pharmacist (at the time this wasn’t yet an illegal substance and scientists were still experimenting with it, alledgedly making The Tingler the first movie ever to portray the use and effects of the drug). The reason why the LSD was previously mentioned in the movie, eventually results in a downright funny sequence. While casually enjoying a cup of coffee with David and his girlfriend, Chapin comes up with the idea of creating a genuine fear situation in a “controlled experiment”, which he eventually manages to create. Now tell me: How on earth could someone possibly consider injecting yourself with pure hallucinogenic acid and locking yourself in a laboratory without any assistance to monitor the process and thereby excluding all possible intervention for when things go wrong to be… a “controlled experiment”? You’d really have to be living in the 50′s to pull that one off.

Coventry: The list of reasons why this film should be considered a true genre-classic is nearly endless. The make-up effects and shocks are The Tingler   tingler creature 300x164 reviews horror quite impressive, especially considering the budget William Castle worked with, the infamous LSD-trip sequence (the first of its kind!) is dared and innovating, the playful use of color schemes are brilliantly timed and -- most importantly -- the titular creature is unimaginably cool looking! It looks like a big, malicious shrimp, rather than like a human spine column come to life but it still is a tremendously ingenious critter.

Vomitron: Actually, to me the Tingler looked more like a tremendously over-sized centipede made out of rubber. But the darn thing did move in a cool, pulsating manner (regardless the visible strings in one scene). Coventry’s aforementioned color schemes refer to a certain part from the LSD-trip scene of the deaf-mute woman, where water all of the sudden turns bloodred. To my surprise, these unexpected, brilliant visual effects where answered with genuine “ooh’s!” and “wow’s!” of surprise and wonder coming from the audience (myself included). A ’59 movie causing that in this day and age…? William Castle must truly be proud.

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Coventry: The script contains, in my humble opinion at least, a handful of truly well written dialogs as well as some fairly deep intrigues and sub-plots, like for example the depiction of Dr. Chapin’s troubled marriage and the rather well disguised twist near the end.

Vomitron: The twist at the end was a real nice bonus treat. Dr. Chapin seems to come The Tingler   cinematingler 300x166 reviews horror up with the perfect solution (based on yet again a wonderful speculation, as Price delivers many of those throughout the movie) to make the Tingler die. But in the end, things don’t go exactly as anticipated. Always a great way to end a horror movie.

Coventry: Vincent Price is amazing and reliable as always, and this time he even receives excellent feedback from such underrated actors as Philip Coolidge and particularly Judith Evelyn as the mysterious and uncanny deaf-mute lady. The Tingler is an absolute must see for admirers of classic black & white horror, oddball science-fiction stories, Vincent Price and gems of low-budget cinema.

Vomitron: To wrap things up, I’ll briefly eloborate on the interactive part of the screening. When the scene came on where the Tingler escapes into a theater, the movie stopped. Vincent Price‘s voice took over, warning people about the Tingler on the loose. The buzzers under the seats The Tingler   theater screen 300x166 reviews horror in Cinema Nova started to work, leaving people merely puzzled at first. But when the staged part kicked in, things did go nuts. Tinglers were thrown from the balcony into the audience, around the moment when Vincent Price‘s voice encouraged people to scream for their lives. And it worked. A couple of “actors” among the audience started to scream, and within seconds the whole theater was screaming along. One of them was “attacked” at the throat by a rubber Tingler, jumped up from his seat, went down in the aisle and nurses rushed in to carry him out. Then Vincent Price took over again, assuring the audience that the Tingler had been paralized by our screaming and we were no longer in any danger. The movie continued, and so did the giggling.


Another wonderful midnight screening at Cinema Nova, and your two devoted viewers (regardless of where and how they watched the movie) are unanimous:

Rating: The Tingler   star reviews horror The Tingler   star reviews horror The Tingler   star reviews horror The Tingler   star reviews horror The Tingler   blankstar reviews horror

And remember, kids: When Vincent Price tells you to scream, you simply… scream!

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