The Tingler

The Tingler ★★½

The all too familiar voice of William Castle warns us of the horrors we're about to witness before providing us with reassurance that it is only a movie. Strangely, I find this quite comforting not in the sense that I needed the warning but I like seeing the person who's responsible for a movie to do some kind of introduction or talk you into the movie.

So, William Castle knows how to direct a horror movie that's for sure. In The Tingler, he put Vincent Price in the role of a doctor whose sole purpose in life seems to be the study of a bug(?) that lives in all people's spines, it is activated by fear and it is defeated by screams? The premise is already crazy but to be honest we've seen crazier premises, also a crazy premise is not necessary a bad thing. What is bad is the actual script though. In a film that is only 80 plus minutes, it is not a good sign when there are redundant subplots that lead to nowhere. Characters that affect nothing really and serve of no actual purpose except maybe filling some time. Cheating wife? Never confronted, never created a point of tension. The whole film could be 5 scenes long with 3 characters and an extra.

As I said though, Castle knew how to elicit fear from the more gullible audiences of the past. Apparently he put vibrating devices under the seats of the cinema room to make things more interactive. I won't say I wouldn't scream like a little girl if I wasn't aware of shenanigans like that beforehand. The Tingler as a creature is just an oversized centipede and the whole idea that it lives inside our bodies is interesting but at the same time somewhat lazy.

Vincent Price is a natural born star, he is the Dr that discovers the Tingler, solves crimes, fights the monster while looking all cool in the process. Eyes glue on him and his charisma is enough to elevate a movie and I am sure Castle put all of his hopes on him rather than the script. Except from a terrific lead, this films is also need to be commended on the meta aspects of it. Prologue by the director, dialogue that serves also as words to the audience as well as direct dialogue with the viewer. Especially back then, I think this would have been received fairly well by the folks watching. Like being part of the show. For some reason Castle wanted to engage with its audience, although in my opinion it is a cheap little trick, albeit a bit enjoyable I am not gonna lie.

The Tingler, a campy little flick that can be watched at any time of the day as a very quick watch. Recommended for fans of Vincent Price performances, William Castle's directorial schtick and cult classic collectors.

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