The Tingler

The Tingler ★★★★½

Totally hilarious and hugely enjoyable, THE TINGLER is a classic B-movie from filmmaker / carnival barker William Castle. I don't know why I'd gone 36 years without seeing it, but I sure am glad I've seen it now.

Boasting one of the most ridiculous plotlines ever (which is played completely straight, making it even goofier), Vincent Price plays a scientist with questionable ethics studying the notion of "fear tensions." In particular, he's interested in what makes a person's spine stiffen when they are frightened, and what could possibly cause a person to die of fight. Lo and behold, he discovers that there's a living organism inside all of us that looks like a giant, rubbery centipede. When we get scared, it clutches our spine and will proceed to snap it and kill us, unless we screeeeeeam! Which makes it dissolve or something.

The narrative is surprisingly complex and satisfying (like in the previous year's HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, also directed by Castle, Vincent Price and his chilly, devious blonde wife have an amusingly hateful relationship, expressed in sharp dialogue and attempts to murder one another), and I'm happy to say it's plenty interesting and enjoyable enough even BEFORE a Tingler gets loose in a movie theater (a neat, very meta sequence) and goes on a string-assisted rampage.

Oh yeah, and watching Vincent Price take an acid trip (the first sequence of its kind put on film) is worth the price of admission all by itself. "The walls! The walls!"

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