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Friday, January 11, 2019

The Tingler (1959)




William Castle and Vincent Price teamed up to make a couple great fifties horror flick, this and House on Haunted Hill. I’ve tried to cover stuff that many newer horror fans might not have heard of for these Friday reviews, but I just had to reward myself with an old favorite. Time to have some fun.

Price plays a scientist named Warren that has been researching the physical manifestation of fear and what happens to us when we get scared. He also serves as a pathologist for the local communities and is doing an autopsy on an executed prisoner when we first meet him. We also meet Ollie, the brother-in-law of the man on the slab. Ollie and Warren strike up a friendship. Along the way we also meet Ollie’s wife, a deaf mute, who faints as the sight of blood. This is important later on.

Warren is also married to a horrible shrew of a woman named Isabel. Much like his character in House on Haunted Hill this wife isn’t above a little murder to get him out of the way. We get some random bits of LSD being taken to induce fear and some scene chewing relationship issues between Warren and Isabel. Speaking of bad marriages someone scares Ollie’s wife to death, literally! When he brings her to Warrant to check out he discovers an actual creature, the Tingler, on her spine. Most people are able to scream, which stuns the creature, but remember the wife was a deaf mute. Removed from her body the tingler is indestructible and ready to kill! Fun times ensue.

Be warned spoilers follow. This is a very silly movie that has several logic loopholes. When you watch the Tingler you need to suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride. Sure, there is no way that Ollie could be all those places at once to scare his wife to death. Enjoy the cheesy effects of the thrown axe and goofy mask as well as the cool bit with the arm rising out of the blood in the bathtub. Also, it is strange how Isabel takes a hike never to be seen again after she fails to kill Warren with the Tingler. The entire subplot of Isabel, the money she inherited, and how poorly she is treating her younger sister Lucy is all dropped unceremoniously. It feels like they filled a few minutes with it and then were done.

Goofy? Sure. Entertaining? Heck Yeah!
This movie is meant to be enjoyed in all of its cheesy goodness. The gag where the Tingler breaks into the theater and Price speaks to the audience is goofy but fun. The look of the creature itself with the visible wires pulling it across the screen only adds to the entertainment. While the movie has a logic of its own there is still the out of left field twist ending that isn’t established by anything else but is entertaining. If this isn’t enough to make you watch the movie then do so for Price. There is a bit where he drops some LSD and stumbles around the room screaming about the walls closing in that is a blast. Price was the kind of actor that made everything he appeared in much better than it should be. That can be said about the Tingler as well.

I love goofy movies, and this is a great one. It checks all the necessary boxes including being fun on repeated viewings. I’ve seen this dozens of times over the years and it has never disappointed. I recommend giving The Tingler a chance.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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