Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story | Chicago Reader

Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story

William Castle began his movie career dreaming of artistic glory (as second-unit director for Orson Welles on The Lady From Shanghai), but today he's remembered as an iconic huckster of the Eisenhower era who hyped his cheapo horror flicks with elaborate promotional gimmicks. The House on Haunted Hill (1959) promised superior chills through the magic of “Emergo” (a plastic skeleton that sailed over the audience on a wire), The Tingler (1959) was enhanced by “Percepto!” (electric joy buzzers attached to selected seats), and viewers of 13 Ghosts (1960) got “Illusion-O” (red- and blue-tinted glasses that would either reveal or obscure the spirits on-screen). Directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, Spine Tingler! is a standard talking-head video documentary, but it paints a touching portrait of a big-hearted showman who yearned for the respect of his peers; in the late 60s, Castle cut a deal with Paramount Pictures for a movie adaptation of Ira Levin's novel Rosemary's Baby but magnanimously ceded the director's chair to Roman Polanski, who was inevitably crowned the movie's auteur. 82 min.

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