In Columbia Pictures' 1959 b&w movie The Tingler
, producer/director William Castle introduced the audience to the gimmick "Percepto". The movie starred Vincent Price and featured some seats which were rigged with vibrating devices to give moviegoers "tingles".
Vincent Price plays a doctor who believes the tingling sensation people feel in their spine when they are frightened is caused by a creature that lives in everyone. The creature grows as fear increases but is killed when the victim screams. His theory is proven when a woman who is deaf and mute, dies of fright because she cannot scream. Price removes the Tingler from the woman's spine and it eventually escapes into a movie theater. The patrons' screams paralyze the centipede-like monster and Price puts it back into the woman's body, leading to a twist ending.
A review of The Tingler
by Time Out London
calls the movie "ingeniously ludicrous" and I think that's a great description. The plot was obviously written for the gimmick, so it's best not to overthink it. However, the rigged seats, the screamers planted in the audience and the fainters having to be removed by fake nurses must've made for a great movie-going experience. And if you can accept the silliness of the plot, I think you'll find The Tingler
to be a very enjoyable movie. Vincent Price is great, treating the ridiculous as real as possible. The dialogue is pretty sharp, and the horror scenes are excellent. While I feel that a stop-motion Tingler would've been better than the rubber slug that was used, the heartbeat played whenever the Tingler was shown was unnerving. There was a dark feel to the movie due to several evil characters and surreal moments when red blood was shown in the sink and bathtub.
was much better than I remembered and must've been a blast to have seen in "Percepto!"
William Castle opens the movie by warning the audience about the Tingler, similar to the opening scene in Frankenstein
. It is then followed by people screaming, a trick Castle had used before. Castle seemed to have had great fun making his movies.
Vincent Price takes LSD. In his experiments into fear, Price's character uses LSD in an attempt to scare himself. He hallucinates and can feel the Tingler growing on his spine but he can't stop himself from screaming. According to Wikipedia, screenwriter Robb White had experimented with LSD in college and worked it into the script. This was the first use of the drug shown on film.
The woman being scared to death. Price gives her a shot for her nerves. When she awakes, however, several strange things occur, culminating with a machete-wielding maniac and a hand reaching up from a bathtub filled with blood. These horror scenes were shocking and reminded me of The Twilight Zone
episode "The Invaders(1961).
The Tingler attacking Price. The Tingler isn't a great monster but these scenes are pretty good thanks to Price's acting.
The Tingler loose in the theater. While too much is shown of the silent movie playing in the theater, the scene is another great example of bringing the horror directly to the audience. It was during this scene that the lights were turned out, the plants in the audience screamed and seats were zapped. To be an unsuspecting audience member in one of the rigged seats must've been a moment you'd never forget.
The Tingler trailer
Vincent Price had starred in The Invisible Man Returns
in 1940 but it wasn't until the 1950's that he earned his reputation as a horror star, apearing in such films as House Of Wax, The Fly
and House On Haunted Hill
. He would star in several more horror films throughout the 1960s and beyond.
The"Bloody Bathtub" scene was done by painting the set, and the actress, with black, white and gray paint and filming in color. It really was creepy.
The silent film played at the theater when the Tingler attacks was Tol'able David
(1921) which apparently was a huge critical and financial success.
You can watch The Tingler