IT’S DAY ONE OF THE WILLIAM CASTLE BLOGATHON– I FEEL SOMETHING EERIE AND YET PLEASANT CRAWLING UP MY SPINE! I THINK IT’S EXCITEMENTSO SCREAM, SCREAM FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!! HAPPY 54TH ANNIVERSARY TO THE TINGLER
Here at The Last Drive In -We’re kicking off the celebration with some very spine tingling, toe tapping tales in celebration of the great William Castle.
So don’t be afraid my fearless friends- head over to the dungeon and see Terri’s cheeky tribute to the July 29, 1959 54th anniversary nod to our little pal… The Tingler plus…her fun with gifs!-you won’t be able to take your eyes off ’em
Terri atGoregirl’s Dungeonwill be hosting folks at her lair with bars on the windows and vats of boiling acid; so go there and be thrilled to your bones!
Furious Cinema, Lindsey at The Motion Pictures, Forgotten Films, Barry at Cinematic Catharsis
And me at The Last Drive In, showing some love to my favorite Castle fun house fright ride- House on Haunted Hill (1959). Good old Mrs Slydes still scares the hell out of my cat… okay maybe me…. when she glides through the dark wine cellar.
“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 Tinglerin 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 Tinglerwhich manifests itself at the base of the spine when one is experiencing abject fear. The Tinglercan 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’sDiabolique (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 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:
Director/Showman extraodinaire William Castlebrings us writer Robb White’s story centered around a quirky dilapidated mansion once owned by eccentric scientist/occultist Dr. Plato Zorba who collected ghosts from around the world, and invented goggles that enable you to see them. When Dr. Zorba dies he wills the strange house and it’s ‘contents’ to his nephew Cyrus Zorba (Donald Woods) and family, wife Hilda (Rosemary De Camp), son Buck (Charles Herbert) and daughter Medea (Jo Morrow). The Zorba family is broke, the bank has even reclaimed the last bit of furnishings. While blowing out the candles on his birthday, Buck wishes for a house with furniture that can’t be taken away. So the fortuitous inheritance comes just in time. Not long after moving in they discover that the house is haunted. Cyrus finds uncle Plato’s notes and learns about the 12 ghosts that inhabit the house, including Dr. Zorba himself who also leaves his housekeeper Elaine Zacharides (Margaret Hamilton) whom Buck constantly refers to as a witch, not a subtle homage to her role in The Wizard of Oz. Hamilton adds a nice bit of nostalgic camp to the creepy environment; floating objects, hidden panels, a bed canopy that closes up like a vice grip to crush the person sleeping in it, and lurking cob webby fiends who lunge from the shadows. Trapped within the walls of the house are the 12 manifested ghosties: the crying lady, a feisty skeleton, a meat cleaving Italian chef who murdered his wife and her lover in the kitchen, a roaring lion along side its headless tamer, and Dr. Zorba himself. They need a 13th ghost to set them free. The family is in danger because of the fortune hidden in the house. Martin Milner plays Benjamen Rush, the lawyer who handles the estate for the Zorbas. Is there a flesh and blood killer among them looking for the hidden fortune. Well, you’ll just have to find out for yourself… A true William Castle fun house ride.