The Tingler

The Tingler ★★★★½

Spooky Scary Horrorthons 7 - Film #3

With 4DX tech gaining ground in recent years I think it is about damn time that some brave young director take up the mantle of William Castle to provide a new generation with silly and charming gimmick horror films. William Castle would probably love all the possibilities that 4DX offers to his type of presentation. William could rig the cinemas with cheap skeleton puppets and vibrating seats so why can't you, you damned millenial two-bit horror directors?!

Well enough ranting for now. Despite watching this on a laptop with none of the gimmicks at play I still found The Tingler to be very charming and surprisingly thrilling. The story is that Vincent Price plays the role of a weird scientist who has found the root of our bodily sensations when we're scared. The root being a insect-like parasite that grip our spinal cords and gain strength whenever we're afraid. It is also weak to human screams however (that is some of the most counter-productive evolution of all time, no?) so Vincent Price, and Mr. William Castle himself, inform the audience that a well-timed scream could save your life whenever this nasty parasite comes around. And if your seat starts buzzing all of a sudden then that may just mean that the tingler has gotten to you!

Right. So we have Vincent Price conducting experiments on himself and unsuspecting people to gain knowledge about this parasitic entity. It is a silly concept but it manages to be quite scary. A lengthy sequence where a character faces a variety of scares in their apartment manages to be a very intense scene, especially for a 50's flick. There are several neat tricks on display here, my favorite being some very sparse use of colour (the rest of the film is entirely in black and white) to amplify the terror of a certain moment involving blood. The parasite itself is also quite nasty despite the goofy effects. Just the thought of having a huge bug living under your skin is pretty unnerving and I think more than one body horror film took some notes from The Tingler.

Despite being shaped around a gimmick The Tingler manages to be so much more than you'd expect. Charismatic performances (as is always to be expected with Vincent Prince in the lead role). Genuine terror. Clever use of various filmmaking tricks. The Tingler is a solid mixture of campy fun and genuine body-based horror. I really hope that I will be able to watch this in a cinema with all the gimmicks at play at some point in the future. I feel like that would push it to a solid 5-star rating.

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