Fantastic Fest

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An electrifying double feature for all film fans - SPINE TINGLER and THE TINGLER!

Damn straight! A very special double feature celebrating one of our heroes, the great William Castle. For two nights only: Wednesday Sept 24 and Thursday Sept 25. Click here for details and to purchase tickets.

We will present the fascinating new documentary SPINE-TINGLER - THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY and then show Mr. Castle's magnum opus THE TINGLER in the miracle of Percepto, in which select seats are wired to give an (hopefully non-debilitating) electric "tingle" to the lucky persons sitting in them. If everything works out alright there won't be any serious injuries but we will require an audience waiver. And if you've got a pacemaker - stay home and take it easy for this one.

SPINE-TINGLER - THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY (2008, D. Jeffrey Schwartz, 84 min.)

There's no greater icon of showmanship than William Castle. When the rest of Hollywood was shivering in its boots over the impact of TV on the bottom line, Castle rolled up his sleeves and went to work. Not only did he make some of the best, wickedly funny horror films, he also jazzed them up with in-theater gimmicks that made moviegoing a truly multidimensional, interactive experience. Starting with 1958's MACABRE, whose viewers were insured against death by fright via a (probably pretty inexpensive) Lloyd's of London policy and continuing through to his masterpiece THE TINGLER, in which attendees were lightly shocked in their seats- Castle made sure his films were events, endlessly talked about on schoolyards and discussed in magazines like Famous Monsters Of Filmland. Along the way, a junior cognoscenti sprung up, hipped by Castle's winking approach to the underpinnings of media and entertainment manipulation. Many of those young fans grew up to take Castle's lessons to heart. In SPINE TINGLER you'll hear such luminaries as Roger Corman, John Waters, Joe Dante and others talking about Castle's legacy. You'll also find out more about the man himself, from his early years as a critically acclaimed director of B-Thrillers through the tumultuous roller-coaster '50s when he scored hit after hit and into the '60s when he made his mark in the New Hollywood, producing ROSEMARY'S BABY and achieving some measure of the respect from his peers that had long eluded him. His daughter Terry Castle provides personal glimpses of the great showman's family life and inner insecurities that his bombastic, self-mythologizing, though highly entertaining autobiography didn't even hint at. (Lars Nilsen)

THE TINGLER (1959, D. William Castle, 82 min. AUDIENCE WAIVER REQUIRED)

Master showman William Castle is synonymous with gimmicks - the "fright break" to give scared patrons a chance to vacate the theater; Emergo aka "giant inflatable skeleton hovers over theatergoers"; the "Punishment Poll" to determine whether the villain lives or dies and many more. But his greatest accomplishment, and the ultimate barrier-breaker - short of actually murdering audience members - was Percepto, in which an electrical device embedded in the theater seats emits a small shock at the crucial point of the film. It's a genius idea, and it would probably work well even with a badly constructed horror movie but the Tingler is anything but. The way Castle, an excellent and intelligent filmmaker, builds the suspense through surprising plot twists and pinpoint timing is, well, electric. In the lead, as a blithely mad scientist plagued by a hussy wife, Vincent Price is just the ticket - bringing just the right mix of arched-eyebrow humor to the role without tipping the coffin over. This is a film that has been read about and discussed endlessly; some of you may have even seen it. But how many people have actually seen it in the miracle of Percepto? This year, wear rubber pants, and don't get too attached to any of the hair on your ass-cheeks - because we're going to hook up a generator, hire a non-union electrician to wire select seats, and watch the fireworks. We will require all audience members to sign a waiver to attend this show. (Lars Nilsen)

You won't regret it. But we might.


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