The Tingler

The Tingler ★★★½

William Castle is a director that does everything in his power to give the audience a memorable and scary experience and I really enjoy watching the results of those efforts. Not only does The Tingler have a fun plot about a scientist trying to discover what causes fear, but it also has plenty of delightful gimmicks (for example, the movie opens with floating heads screaming and the screen will suddenly goes black with characters warning you that something is loose inside your theater). In fact, theaters were outfitted with shocking devices in the seats that would vibrate when something scary happened on screen; sometimes there were even actors in the audience that would pretend to feint from fright and be carried away by doctors.

The premise about a creature that lives in your spine and grows whenever you feel fear is certainly a bit silly, but its also delightfully creepy. The "mad scientist" and teenage side characters can make this feel like a traditional B-movie at times, but several standout sequences help to elevate it beyond that. There is a fantastic hallucination-style sequence involving blood pouring from the faucets (made all the more striking with the red color set against the black and white). The story goes against the grain of some B-movie tropes to keep things unpredictable and craft some moments of actual suspense. This is nowhere as genre-defining as some of Hitchcock's thrillers (whom Castle appears to have been hugely influenced by) but it still a film that is full of surprises and is thoroughly entertaining.

HoopTober #13

1959

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