Vincent Price. True icon of classic horror. A household name. William Castle. Creator of westerns turned schemer of the macabre. A legend among men. Together they formed a tag team of pure gold. In 1959 they presented to the world The Tingler.
Price stars as a fear obsessed doctor bent on discovering what exactly happens to the human body when it is in distress. He gets more than he bargained for when he discovers a creature attached to frightened people’s’ spines that is only kept at bay when they SCREAM. Throw in a mute woman, an evil wife, and a passion for terror and you get The Tingler.
The Tingler was part of Castle’s grab bag of films that broke ground in the early days of gimmickry. This particular film had mechanical devices that vibrated certain seats when the creature was “loose” in the theater. Many of his other works had similar innovative and amusing stunts tied in.
The genius at work here is subtle, at least to someone watching this over 55 years after its release. I’m almost certain most B movies like this back then weren’t half as clever or imaginative. One might not expect the most breathtaking scene in a movie about a giant spine LEECH doesn’t involve the monster at all. I’m talking about the mute woman’s scene. This might be the first time I was ever legitimately scared by a black and white film. Kudos to Castle for directing a movie that truly holds up this far into the future.
4 tingles out of 5