THE WILLIAM CASTLE BLOGATHON
“I think he was a wonderful director. He followed his dreams, and after all he was right.”-Marcel Marceau
On July 29th 1959 American Producer/Director & Screenwriter William Castle premiered (click on link to read my past post) The Tingler in the US to theater goers. The audience had the underside of their seats rigged with electric buzzers which were activated at the moment Vincent Price cautions them “Ladies and gentlemen, please do not panic. But scream! Scream for your lives! The stunt was named ‘Percepto’ and once the projectionist got his cue to let the current rip, people in the audience got a mild jolt to their tuchus and their money’s worth of chills and thrills!
The urbane Vincent Price plays Dr. Warren Chapin a man driven by a curiosity to find out the source of the mysteriously evil force that creates the SENSATION of fear. He discovers an organism called… The Tingler which manifests itself at the base of the spine when one is experiencing abject fear. The Tingler can only be subdued by the act of screaming.
In his memoirs Step Right Up! I’m Gonna Scare the Pants Off America he talks about the people who got their gluteus maximus’ buzzed with a small electric shock. Castle went as far as to hire fake “screamers and fainters” that he planted in the audience who would then be carted away on a gurney by “nurses” who were situated out in the lobby ready to put them in an ambulance parked outside the theater. This gimmick definitely outshines the last publicity scheme for his first chiller film touted with fanfare in which he offered a certificate for a $1,000 life insurance policy from Lloyd’s of London in case they should die of fright during his picture Macabre (1958) a film he felt inspired to make after seeing the success of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Diabolique (1955)
Growing up in the 60s and 70s my childhood was filled with the sort of wonderful attractiveness William Castle’s shenanigans fostered in my yearning imagination. His films wouldn’t really be considered frightening by anyone’s standards today, but if you were a kid watching television on a rainy Saturday afternoon way back when, and suddenly you were thrust into a world where wearing whacky goggles would allow you to see wild ghosts wreaking havoc in an old eerie mansion in 13 Ghosts, or a disembodied hand rising up from a bath of brilliant red blood in an otherwise black and white landscape in The Tingler, or that moment when Nora Manning sees Mrs.Slydes the blind housekeeper who glides past her, a crone like harbinger of death, or those jaunty little party favors in the shape of coffins containing guns for the guests in House on Haunted Hill, with the added sensational musical scores and atmospherics you’d know the thrill and nostalgic glow that washes over you because William Castle made himself a presence quite like Hitchcock who was invested in bringing us into their world of fear and getting us excited about it!
Castle’s films have left an indelible mark on so many of us, not to mention the incredible movie stars and character actors who inhabited his memorable films, like Vincent Price, Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Shelley Winters, Sid Caesar, Ann Baxter, Robert Ryan, Richard Conte, Julie Adams, Rock Hudson, Rhonda Fleming Robert Taylor, Guy Rolfe, Janette Scott, William Prince, Judith Evelyn, Audrey Dalton, Margaret Hamilton, Tom Poston and Elisha Cook Jr. and so many more…
Keep in mind, he produced my favorite film of all time, which I’ve been planning to do a major feature on down the road. The transcendent mind blowing tribute to paranoia and motherhood, Rosemary’s Baby 1968, thank god he decided to let Polanski direct, but still he was the man behind the masterpiece.
And Castle didn’t just do scary campy joyrides, if you look at his filmography you’ll see an array of film noir & mysteries like Hollywood Story (1951),The Fat Man (1951) Undertow (1949) series’ like The Crime Doctor & The Whistler, adventures like Serpent of the Nile (1953), with Rhonda Fleming. Westerns, television series and screwball comedies too like The Busy Body (1967) starring Sid Caesar, Robert Ryan and Ann Baxter , so if you’re a scaredy cat no worries there’s plenty to cover for everybody!
William Castle is one of THE most recognizable showman of film camp, purveyor of cheap chills, the maestro of gimmickry! In a time when the censors were becoming more lax and psycho-sexual themes were infiltrating the cinematic frontier, the trumpets were hailing Castle to step right up and create his own uniquely tacky ballyhoo! Sometimes kitschy, at times quite jolting and paralyzing, so many of us were marvelously effected by the collective tawdry Schadenfreude.
And so I got to thinking– geez it’ll be the 54th anniversary of that Spine-Tingling fun house ride of B-Movie schlockery and what better way to tribute the P.T. Barnum of Classic B-Movie fanfare than to co-host a blogathon with the witty and well versed Terri McSorley of Goregirl’s Dungeon.
Castle opens up The Tingler with this fabulous warning to the audience:
I was going to wait and announce the blogathon officially on May 31st which will be the anniversary of Castle’s death in 1977, but we all seem so excited about this, I thought I better get on it and post the details and start the Tingler climbing up our proverbial collective spines! And what a great bunch contributing too!
In honor of The Tingler’s 54th anniversary
The William Castle Blogathon runs from July 29th through August 2nd, 2013 and is Co-hosted by Joey (MonsterGirl) of The Last Drive In and Terri McSorley of Goregirl’s Dungeon.
The list of films and contributors are below: We’ll narrow down the dates each person will publish their post a little further down the road. I don’t want to be too restrictive about films being covered twice as everyone has their own unique perspective. There’s still a bunch of films not chosen yet so please consider widening the scope of our celebration by tackling a lesser known film of Bills! All are welcome, if you’re interesting in joining the ride, please contact me!
Please grab any banners for the blogathon and use them on your site if you’d like!
There’s also no constraints on how long your piece should be. As you know I tend to be really long winded myself. If you have any questions at all, like if you’d prefer your name displayed differently please always feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment here:
The Spine-Tinglers Are!
(Lindsey)-The Motion Pictures -Tribute &
(Gwen) Movies Silently- The Crime Doctor & The Whistler
(Dorian) Tales of the Easily Distracted- The Spirit is Willing (1967)
(Vinnie) Tales of the Easily Distracted -Zotz! (1962)
(David Arrate)- My Kind of Story-Images – Shanks (1974) & Masterson of Kansas (1954)
(Brian Schuck) Films From Beyond The Time Barrier- Strait-Jacket (1964)
(Joey-MonsterGirl!) The Last Drive In -House on Haunted Hill (1959) & Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949)
(Paul)-Lasso the Movies- The Tingler (1959)
(Terri McSorley) Goregirl’s Dungeon – Mr.Sardonicus (1961) &
(Ruth) -Silver Screenings- The Old Dark House (1963)
(Rob Silvera) The Midnight Monster Show- Homicidal (1961) & House on Haunted Hill (1959)
(Aurora) Once Upon a Screen… - The Night Walker (1964)
Classic Movie Hub- The Busy Body (1967)
(Karen) Shadows and Satin- Mysterious Intruder (1946)
Forgotten Films-Macabre (1958)
(Heather Drain) Mondo Heather- 13 Frightened Girls!(1963) & Bio
(Barry) Cinematic Catharsis -13 Ghosts (1960)
(Misty Layne) Cinema Schminema – Project X (1968)
(Ivan)Thrilling Days of Yesteryear- I Saw What You Did (1965)
(Rich) Wide Screen World-