Guest Movie Review: The Tingler

imageeliBy Eli Sanchez
Guest Contributor
Silver Screen Capture

William Castle’s cult hit with a ballyhooed interactive element in person during its initial run in movie theatres, The Tingler (B+) combines the usual cocktail of LSD and imaginary creatures living in one’s spine and follows the humdrum life of Dr. Warren Chapin (Vincent Price) who works full time as the medical examiner performing autopsies for the State of California’s Death Row after execution. His examinations of the recently electrified corpses have turned up evidence of the victims’ backs inexplicably snapping, attributing this pattern mainly to the victim not being able to scream to release fear at the moment of death. Enter the brother-in-law of the latest corpse, inquisitive and maybe quietly holding an agenda of his own. He happens to be married to a mute and suggests the fear experiment on his wife (but of course only as a suggestion…wink wink.) The film really gets going from here. For lack of a better term, the good doctor names this phenomenon The Tingler, and the mute woman is killed by fright in an elaborate montage of creepy things in a house in the only color sequence in the whole film involving a bathtub full of blood. Aided by thin wires and in-theatre actors providing marionette movements of its would-be killer, the Tingler thrills but mainly in a laughable tone as a slightly elongated centipede wreaks havoc on teenagers at the local movie house. At one point, Vincent Price’s voice asks the movie audience to scream at the top of their lungs to neutralize the Tingler so he can recover it and put an end to the threat.

I've reviewed films for more than 20 years. Current movie reviews of new theatrical releases and direct-to-video or streaming films are added weekly to the Silver Screen Capture movie news site. Many capsule critiques originally appeared in expanded form in my syndicated Lights Camera Reaction column.

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Posted in 1959, Eli Sanchez, Eli Sanchez Guest Review

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