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Spine Tingler!  The William Castle Story tells how director William Castle became a household name in the 50’s and 60’s by creating his own brand of gimmicky horror movies.  First, Castle worked his way up the Hollywood ladder by sheer chutzpah (they use that word a lot to describe him) until he was finally directing B movie programmers.  Eventually he got to a point where he was frustrated with the Hollywood system and decided to strike out on his own.  Fearing no one would see his new picture Macabre, he came up with a gimmick involving a life insurance policy so if you died of fright while watching the film, your beneficiary would collect $1000.  It was a smash and Castle began devising more complicated and elaborate gimmicks.

 

Castle’s next gimmick was “Emergo” for House on Haunted Hill.  During the climax of that film, a skeleton would pop out of an acid bath.  When the skeleton appeared, an inflatable skeleton would come out of the screen and dangle above the audience.  Probably the most famous gimmick was for The Tingler, called “Percepto”.  This involved rigging theater seats with electric shocks to make audience members scream at key moments of the film.  Needless to say, The Tingler was a huge hit.

 

Spine Tingler!  The William Castle Story is a fast moving, informative, and entertaining documentary.  It’s filled with lots of cool trailers for Castle’s films, many of which he is the star.  There’s also a bunch of audio interviews with the man himself too.  We also get interviews with a ton of directors who are big fans of Castle like John Waters, John Landis, Joe Dante, Roger Corman, and Fred Olen Ray as well.  My only complaint with the flick is that I sorta wanted a bit more in-depth look at the planning and staging of the gimmicks.  That’s a relatively minor quibble though.  Any William Castle fan worth a toss needs to check it out.

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