Horror Fest 2016: The Tingler (1959)
Cast: Vincent Price as Dr. Warren Chapin
Judith Evelyn as Mrs. Martha Ryerson Higgins
Darryl Hickman as David Morris
Patricia Cutts as Isabel Stevens Chapin
Pamela Lincoln as Lucy Stevens
Philip Coolidge as Ollie Higgins
Written by Robb White (13 Ghosts, Homicidal)
Directed by William Castle (Macabre, House on Haunted Hill)
Plot: Dr. Chapin discovers that a creature, which he dubs “The Tingler,” lives inside all of us. During moments of extreme fear, it thrives on the fear. However, when we scream, its’ presence is subsided. However, what would happen if we couldn’t scream? That’s what Chapin wants to find out when he meets a woman who cannot speak or hear. Unfortunately, when his theory is proven real, the Tingler is let loose, resulting in a classic sequence in a movie theater where everyone is encouraged to scream for their lives.
Personal Thoughts: The Tingler was made during the prime of William Castle’s career, following on the success of House of Haunted Hill (1959), also starring Vincent Price, and preceding 13 Ghosts (1960). William Castle’s opening is similar to that of Frankenstein (1931), a warning of the fear to follow. It is classic Castle and Price, cheesy with unintentional humor scattered throughout. From the LSD trip Price undergoes to the ridiculously moving Tingler, it is almost impossible not to have fun with this one.
While filmed in black and white, the bathroom sequence during the scaring of Martha features red blood in the sink and bathtub. I remember seeing this when I was young on the Creature Feature. My Dad had gone to bed and when I told him about it the next morning, he didn’t believe me, sure I had fallen asleep. When it was eventually replayed, my Dad stayed awake this time and I was vindicated. Dad was amazed at the sequence.
- This was the first film to feature an LSD trip.
- Pamela Lincoln (Anatomy of a Psycho) and Darryl Hickman (Many Loves of Dobie Gillis) married shortly after the release of the film.
- “The Tingler” is modeled after the real-life velvet worm.
- The movie theater clips are from a real film, Tol’able David (1921).
- William Castle continued his trend of movie theater gimmicks. Whenever screams were heard in the movie, buzzers located under the seats would vibrate, simulating the “Tingler.” Castle called this “Percepto.”