The Tingler Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by William Castle
Written by Robb White
1959, 82 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on August 21st, 2018
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
Dr. Warren Chapin has noticed an anomaly in the spinal cords of his patients in the form of stress fractures on the vertebrae. He is convinced this is a response to cases of extreme fear, a physical manifestation that he calls “The Tingler”. Chapin believes the parasitic organism exists in all of us at the height of fright. The condition is reversed when the victim releases his terror in a loud scream. Chapin is dedicated to his work, but is not a very respectable doctor. He frightens his wife with a gun, tests himself with injections of LSD and possibly experiments on an unsuspecting woman with a fear of blood. The woman in question is a deaf-mute incapable of screaming and is a perfect candidate for Chapin’s efforts. He does in fact inject her with something, but doesn’t stick around to study the results. Her husband Ollie has his own agenda and works alongside the doctor when the time comes to remove her Tingler. The monster is briefly captured before escaping into a crowded movie theatre. Terror is loose, but can it be stopped?
Directed by William Castle (House on Haunted Hill) with the added gimmick of “Percepto”, a mild electric shock administered to select seats in participating movie theaters designed to enhance the audience’s viewing experience. People receiving the jolt are encouraged to scream to protect themselves from the creature. Castle was a genius at marketing his movies and pulled out all the stops at every opportunity, making each picture an event. The Tingler, written by Robb White (13 Ghosts), is a silly movie with a thin plot that is full of holes, but somehow manages to remain enjoyable. The film itself is just okay, but the show-biz aspect of the presentation is a real winner.
Vincent Price (Theatre of Blood) stars as Dr. Chapin, the conflicted hero of the film. His behavior is pretty horrendous, but Price remains sympathetic throughout. He is a man obsessed with the science of fear and this ultimately destroys his marriage and prevents any serious friendships. The scene where Chapin takes LSD to tap into his own fears is pretty classic and it’s fun to watch Price bug out. Philip Coolidge (North by Northwest) plays the devious Ollie Higgins, the overly helpful man with the deaf-mute wife (Judith Evelyn, Rear Window). Even though Chapin has an assistant (Darryl Hickman, Sharky’s Machine), Higgins is the man along for the ride. Patricia Cutts (Private Road) is Chapin’s ice queen of a wife and is wonderful in the role. I love to hate her and found myself surprised at how nasty she is to her husband, going so far as to dose him a second time!
The Tingler is one of Castle’s most notorious gimmick-laden efforts, but it holds a special place in my heart. Vincent Price had a real talent for turning some of the most dreadful scripts into gold. He carries this picture with ease and his performance really elevates the material. The supporting cast does a fine job even if the script isn’t doing anybody any favors. The story falls apart if you look too closely, so it’s best just to go along with it. The real treat comes at the finale when “The Tingler” gets loose in the movie theatre. I would love to go to a revival screening of this flick if it came with “Percepto” shocks.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the film has received an all-new Hi-Def transfer and the results are gorgeous. There is a lot of rich detail on display and contrast levels are spot-on. The source materials are in great shape and are free from dirt or scratches.
A DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio track gets the job done with a well-balanced track that is free from hiss or distortion. Dialogue levels are clean and never overpowered by the music or effects tracks.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
We begin with a heavily scripted audio commentary by author/ historian Steve Haberman, who shares a wide ranging amount of information. The attention to detail is impressive and covers a lot of ground without ever straying too far from the mark. There are no extended gaps of silence or onscreen narration. This is a superior track well worth a listen.
I Survived The Tingler (4 minutes) features actress Pamela Lincoln in an all-new interview in which she shares her memories of the production.
Publicist Barry Lorie sits down for the segment Unleashing “Percepto” (3 minutes) in which he reveals that he was responsible for installing the seat buzzers in theatres.
Up next is the vintage featurette Scream for Your Lives! William Castle and The Tingler (16 minutes). Featuring interviews with actor Darryl Hickman, monster enthusiast Bob Burns, author Lucy Chase Williams and film historian David Skal, the group shares their reflections on The Tingler and its creator. This is another well-crafted segment that fans are certain to enjoy.
The original ‘Scream” audio (1 minute) recording from the scene where the monster attacks the movie theatre is presented here in its entirety.
William Castle’s Drive-In “Scream” audio (1 minute) plays an alternate version of the theatre attack scene as it appeared at area drive-in screenings tailored for the creature popping up in people’s cars.
The 1959 theatre lobby recording of the hip “Tingler” theme song (3 minutes) for radio is good cheesy fun. There is a strong resemblance to the dance track that accompanied The Blob the previous year.
The theatrical trailer is included.
A Still Gallery plays as a silent six-minute slideshow, featuring color tinted lobby cards, poster art, black-and-white publicity stills and behind-the-scenes images.
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