The combined talents of Castle and Price make “The Tingler” an essential classic in spite of its dubious reputation; here are 21 fun facts about the film.
The Tingler (1959) is the second of two films pairing the exquisite talents of B-movie aficionado William Castle — who will forever be remembered for his innovative and entertaining gimmicks — and the one and only Vincent Price. Price’s spine-tingling co-star is an absurd-looking cross between a lobster and velvet worm: the Tingler. It is difficult for most viewers to not laugh the first time they lay eyes on the film’s antagonist. Regardless, The Tingler continues to enthrall and entertain cinephiles six decades later.
Writer Robb White’s storytelling and dialogue are often maligned. But there is an element of fun and whimsy that the overly critical often overlook. For instance, Warren (Price) and his wife Isabel (Patricia Cutts) argue about whether Dave (Darryl Hickman) and Lucy (Pamela Lincoln) should marry.
“The only way Dave Morris will marry my sister is over my dead body,” Isabel says as she threatens her husband’s authority.
“Unconventional but not impossible,” Warren says with a menacingly sarcastic tone.
White creates many memorable moments like this in both the narrative and dialogue. So, don’t let the snobbish critic or unenlightened Twitter troll detour you from such an entertaining reminder of the bygone age of horror in the late 1950s. And if you’re lucky enough to live near fan screenings and revivals of “The Tingler” on the big screen, book your tickets. Be sure to check under your seats for Percepto. This classic Castle gimmick takes the moviegoing adventure to a whole new level. But even in the comfort of your own home on your favorite devices, “The Tingler” is must-see cinema.
Here are 21 Things You May Not Know About The Tingler.
“THE TINGLER” TRIVIA
1. THE CLASSICS NEVER DIE
“The Tingler” celebrates its 60th anniversary on July 29, 2019. The film was produced for a budget of approximately $250,000 and holds at 76 percent on Rotten Tomatoes with an audience score of 66 percent.
2. CREATURE FEATURE
Regardless of how fake and inauspicious the creature in question might appear on screen — the monster awkwardly lumbers along like a dog refusing to go for a walk, as a consequence of being clumsily pulled by the clearly visible wire — the Tingler prop is simply a large model of the peripatus. Also known as the velvet worm, the peripatus’ name Onychophora comes from the Ancient Greek “onyches” which means claws and “pherein” which means to carry. Are there any fans of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (2002) out there? “And there you go.” If you didn’t get the reference, “put some Windex on it.”
3. MEET ME IN THE MIDDLE
Filmmaker John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, Serial Mom) claims “The Tingler” is the best movie ever made. Conversely, Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins, Innerspace) feels William Castle’s third gimmick-based horror film “has one of the most preposterous plots” of all time. There is definitely some room for middle ground with “The Tingler.” What absurdity might exist in the storytelling and dialogue is quickly quelled by Vincent Price’s authentic performance. Price sells the film and creates the much-needed suspension of disbelief so many of the best horror films and B-movies possess.
4. ONE IS ALL YOU NEED
A remake of “The Tingler” was planned for 2009 — helmed by Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2, Hatchet II, Everly) — but the project never came to fruition. Honestly, there are some films which shouldn’t be remade. “Casablanca” (1942), “Gone with the Wind” (1939), and “The Tingler” is another. These motion pictures are classics for a reason and continue to stand the test of time. Reproducing such flicks is like pouring cheap, off-brand mustard all over a five-star plate of Foie gras.
5. THE GREATEST SHOWMAN
“The Tingler” is the first motion picture made under William Castle Productions. The success of Castle’s freshman and sophomore gimmick-based horror flicks — “Macabre” (1958) and “House on Haunted Hill” (1958) — prompted Columbia Pictures to welcome the filmmaker back with open arms and finance Castle’s upcoming projects. This was the beginnings of Castle’s legacy which he left behind for all of his film fans for generations to come. He was the King of the Gimmicks: a showman and renowned filmmaker.
6. THE VOICE OF A GENERATION
Dal McKennon — who was also credited as either Dale or Dallas over the years — portrayed the projectionist in the Higgins’ movie theater. Uncredited in the motion picture, McKennon was a well-known voice actor whose career impressively spanned from 1942 until 2014. His credits include voicing characters in “The Woody Woodpecker Show” (1957), “Lady and the Tramp” (1955), “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” (1971) and “Gumby The Movie” aka “Gumby 1” (1995) among many others. Do you remember “The Cat from Outer Space” (1978)? McKennon was the farmer.
7. HORROR PEDIGREE
Actress Judith Evelyn played the mute wife of Ollie, Martha Higgins. “The Tingler” was certainly not her only brush with the horror genre. Evelyn portrayed Jeff’s (Jimmy Stewart) isolated neighbor known as Miss Lonelyhearts in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” (1954).
8. MIND ALTERING PERFORMANCE
“The Tingler” is the first American feature film to depict Lysergic acid diethylamide trips on screen. And Vincent Price brings his A-List acting abilities to the table when his character Warren experiments on himself with the mind-altering drug. At that time, LSD was not an illegal substance. It is definitely one of Price’s more memorable performances.
9. SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF
In the earliest, unrestored prints of the motion picture, the filmmakers fail to hide the obvious wires used to tug and pull the prop Tingler along on screen. For many fans, this is the one, unforgivable low-budget moment in “The Tingler” that challenges audiences’ suspension of disbelief. It’s hard not to be taken out of the movie you’re watching when the wires are visible in the special effect’s shot.
Would you believe a man could fly in “Superman: The Movie” (1978) had the cables attached to Christopher Reeve appeared on screen? Do you remember how you felt while watching “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” (1987)? The flying harness ropes were clearly visible on both Reeve and baddie Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow). Horror movie host Svengoolie aka Rich Koz hosted a digitally restored cut of “The Tingler” on his program in which those pesky wires were digitally removed from the film’s “terrifying” creature.