• The Tingler (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: August 21st, 2018.
    Director: William Castle
    Cast: Vincent Price, Judith Evelyn, Darryl Hickman, Patricia Cutts, Pamela Lincoln
    Year: 1959
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    The Tingler - Movie Review:

    The Movie:
    Famously presented in ‘Percepto’ during its original theatrical run (meaning that theater goers were given a tiny jolt of electricity during the scene where the titular monster runs amuck in the theater on screen), William Castle’s 1959 film The Tingler remains a beloved cult horror classic. And for good reason… more than a half a century after it was made the film is still a ridiculously entertaining watch, and a great starring role for Vincent Price.

    Price plays Doctor Warren Chapin, a pathologist who is often called upon by those in charge at the nearby state prison to conduct autopsies on dead inmates. When he discovers spinal damage to one of the cadavers he examines, he starts to theorize that the damage was caused by fear and that fear is caused by a creature that lives inside us. He talks to his beautiful wife Isabel (Patricia Cutts) about this, but she’s not having any of it and thinks his idea fairly silly. Thankfully his assistant, David (Darryl Hickman), wonders if Chapin isn’t actually onto something here. David also happens to be romantically linked to Isabel’s sister, Lucy (Pamela Lincoln), who is becoming increasingly concerned about her boyfriend’s part in all of this (interestingly enough, Hickman and Lincoln would actually get married in real life shortly after this film was finished!).

    From there, he decides to experiment a bit more and to do so, he first tries to scare his wife by pretending to murder her in hopes of producing evidence of this thing he dubs ‘The Tingler.’ Soon enough, Chapin has found some proof in the form of X-Rays he’s taken of Isabel’s spine. After that, he uses LSD to induce a waking nightmare, and then eventually uses Ollie Higgins (Phillip Colidge) and his deaf/mute wife Martha (Judith Evelyn), the owners of an old silent movie theater, as his human guinea pigs. Given that the act of screaming is what Chapin figures suppresses the creature, Marth’s inability to scream should produce for him some interesting results…

    Highlighted by a scene in which Martha sees her bath water turn blood red (the rest of the movie is in black and white) and a pretty awesome lobster/worm-esque rubber monster, The Tingler gives the late, great Vincent Price ample opportunity to strut his stuff. As Chapin, he’s a man who becomes increasingly obsessed with his experiments, and while toying around with LSD (reportedly the first time this was shown on screen in a major motion picture) was maybe not the best idea, if nothing else it lets us see Price flip out in that special way that Price can flip out. He’s great here, going over the top a little bit throughout the film but only when the movie calls for it. He’s also the perfect choice to do the voice work when the ‘theater’ in the movie itself goes black and that effect is replicated on our screen too:

    “Ladies and gentlemen, please do not panic! But SCREAM! Scream for your lives!”

    The movie might be fairly nonsensical but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Castle knew how to pace a picture and he shows that knack in a big way with The Tingler. It moves quickly, it never goes on too long without some sort of weird set piece to pull you back in, and it’s nicely shot. The film also features a great score and fun supporting work from the rest of the cast. If might all seem hokey and goofy by the standards of the day (honestly, it probably seemed hokey and goofy by the standards of 1959), but there’s half the charm of the film right there. You don’t need to take this too seriously, just sit back and enjoy the ride!

    The Tingler – Blu-ray Review:

    The Tingler looks fantastic on this Blu-ray release from Shout! Factory, presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. Detail is typically excellent here, the one exception being the scene where color is used briefly in the bathroom where things get a bit muddy and a bit grainy. The DVD had this issue as well, and it has to do with the elements available for the film rather than the transfer itself (the red blood really pops here, however!). That one sequence aside, things look great. Texture and depth are consistently impressive while contrast looks spot on. Black levels are nice and deep but there aren’t any problems with heavy crush or with compression artifacts. On top of that, the image is pretty much immaculate, showing no serious print damage at all while at the same time, continuing to look like film. As such, there aren’t any obvious issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement. In short, this looks beautiful..

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track comes with optional English subtitles. The track sounds really strong. The screams in the theater scene pack some serious punch while levels remain properly balanced throughout. There are no problems to note with any hiss or distortion and the dialogue remains clean, clear and easy to follow. The score also sounds quite nice here, with good range and depth to it.

    Extra features start off with an all new audio commentary By Author/Historian Steve Haberman. This is a strong track with a lot of information packed into it, covering everything from how Price came on board and the quality of his performance to Castle’s notorious marketing ploys to get people into theaters to see the film when it debuted. He also covers how and why Tol'Able David gets featured in the picture, the supporting players, the effects work, the locations and the color sequence featured in the picture as well as the use of LSD in the movie and loads more. Interesting stuff, delivered passionately and with a nice, laid back vibe from Haberman.

    From there, dig into the first of two new featurettes starting with I Survived The Tingler: An Interview With Pamela Lincoln that runs just over four minutes. It’s short but sweet as she looks back on her time on set, offering up far kinder words for Price and Castle than for the film itself. The second new featurette is Unleashing "Percepto": An Interview With Publicist Barry Lorie that runs three minutes. Again, it’s short but interesting as he talks about working in the publicity department at Columbia when The Tingler was unleashed on the theater-going public and what was involved in promoting Castle’s infamous gimmicks.

    Carried over from the old DVD release is Scream For Your Lives! William Castle And "The Tingler"in which Daryll Hickman shows up and talks about working on the film with Price and Castle and tells some interesting stories from the time he spent on the set of the film. There’s also some great archival material included in this piece, including some footage of Castle himself.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are the original theatrical trailer, a substantial still gallery, the drive-in theater version of the audio that played during the film’s original run when the screen went black, the ‘original’ scream sequence featuring alternate voice work from Price that differs from that used in the feature version, a 1959 theater lobby recording (which is a fun song about the movie featuring yet more voice work from Price), menus and chapter selection.

    The Tingler – The Final Word:

    The Shout! Factory Blu-ray release of William Castle’s The Tingler presents the film in excellent shape and with a really nice selection of extra features. The transfer is top-notch and the lossless audio quite strong. The movie itself remains a whole lot of fun. A superb example of Castle at his gimmicky best and Price at the top of his game! Highly recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Tingler-Shout Blu-ray review screen captures!