Login

The Tingler Review

Image for The Tingler

Dr Warren Chapin theorises that extreme fear in humans creates a centipede-like parasite organism at the base of the spine which will kill the host unless dislodged by a scream. Believing this theory, cinema owner Ollie Higgins sets out to terrify his wi

★★★★

This gets listed in reference books solely because producer-director William Castle – the original for the showman played by John Goodman in Matinee – launched it in theatres with a bizarre gimmick, Percepto. At the point when the ‘tingler’ gets loose in a cinema, little motors under selected seats administered mild shocks to patrons. The ballyhoo is fairly crazy, but the film itself is even more insane, boasting the single whackiest premise of any horror film ever made (yes, whackier than the flying brains of Fiend Without a Face or the space helmeted gorilla in Robot Monster), delivered with a mostly straight face by the plummy Price (who even gets to take a bug-eyed acid trip). Given that its made-up biology could only seem logical to a child (at last, an explanation for the chills that run up and down your spine when you’re afraid!), the film takes a weirdly, nastily adult approach with snarling, unpleasant characters who are perpetually plotting to do away with each other in horrible ways.

The most influential horror movie of the mid-1950s was Les Diaboliques, and a major set-piece here is a minu-rerun of the Clouzot classic, with haggard Judith Evelyn terrified by a series of stunts designed to awake her inner caterpillar monster – the black and white film briefly turns to colour in a bathroom where a hand rises out of a tubful of rich red blood. House on Haunted Hill and 13 Ghosts, Castle’s other horror hits, have been remade, but no one has dared disturb The Tingler again.

Old-style horror which manages to be absurd in places but chilling in many more.