The Tingler

The Tingler ★★★½

The Tingler starts with a warning from director William Castle about how sensitive people will feel a strange tingling sensation during this film. To relieve this feeling you are encouraged to scream. When this film originally released in theaters some seats were rigged with vibrators to scare the audience. It was as much an event as it was a "picture".

Dr. Warren Chapin (Vincent Price) is a scientist that doubles as a pathologist. He is studying fear and his rich snobby wife is funding his research. Warren has a theory that human fear may actually manifest into a creature that attaches to the spine. A creature he calls The Tingler. The reason why this creature has never been discovered is because the human scream kills and dissolves it. After meeting a man named Ollie that runs a theater Warren is introduced to his wife who is can't hear or speak. She turns out to be the key to Warren's work, but once a Tingler is released, can it be stopped?

There is so much here that I loved. Vincent Price on an acid trip? Got it. Red blood in a black and white movie? Sweet, but why not just do it all in color then? The plot was pretty cool but some of the acting left a bit to be desired. Price's wife had a well written script yet lacked emotion in a few places where it was needed. Outside of being excellent at being a bitch there wasn't much else to her. One scene of note is when she sees the Tingler and it's no big deal to her. I'm surprised Castle didn't see this. There was an excellent twist in the third act that I really didn't expect (bravo!) but the ending kind of confused me.

All in all, I'm really glad I finally saw this movie. I wish I could have seen it in 1959 with all of the gimmicks from the vibrators under the seats to the paid actress that "faints" and is taken out of the theaters on a stretcher. William Castle was a showman as much as he was a film maker and he's a product of his time. Something we will probably never see again. That's unfortunate.

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