The Tingler
Director: William Castle

Director: Kevin Williamson

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

A lot of old films have a nostalgic value for me because I saw them as a kid while trying to stay awake until midnight on Fridays when old horror was traditionally shown on the television, often with a clownigh introducer dressed as a vampire. I caught up with all the best Universal films in this way, & with films by such debatable geniuses as William Castle.

The TinglerWhen I see them as an adult it's hard to judge them strictly from an objective point of view, because I can reconnect with childhood's sense of awesomeness.

But Tingler (1959) was one of the few major ones I never saw until I was all grown up. And even without the nostalgia ingredient blinding me to sundry films' weaker points, Tinger was no less awesome.

It's a surreal "weird science" premise that in every vertebrate animal there dwells a parasite that becomes increasingly powerful if sufficiently fed on fear. A scientist (the delightsome Vincent Price) & his lab assistant (worthy of mention only because its tv's Dobie Gillis, vis, Darryl Hickman) try to locate & isolate this nearly invisible parasite in terrible experiments.

Eventually Price's character does find this monstrosity by sacrificing his own wife (Judith Evelyn). She's a deaf mute who operates a silent film cinema house, a charactger so wonderfully unique that a great film could've been made just about her efforts to keep silent cinema alive.

Due to the fact that his wife was physiological unable to scream, the nature of her terror at her own husband's willingness to destroy her life resulted in a transformation of the parasitic "tingler" which escaped from her spine & began to enlarge.

When this slithering critter gets loose it's really very effective for a no-budget Castle film. But how choice it would've been to have seen it in the theaters on its first release, when seats in the movie theaters were randomly rigged with a vibrating device which at key moments of the film would be set off so that audience members would think the tingler had really gotten them.

Teaching Mrs. Tingle Word-association with Tingler is all that makes me suddenly remember Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999).

Helen Merrin in just about anything is great. Since she plays Mrs. Tingle, the film comes off as pretty darned good, though probably wouldn't've been much with anyone else in her role.

She's playing a wicked, wicked teacher whose coniving students hope to induce her to mend her ways. Her students take some unfortunate actions that get them deeper & deeper into sinister comedy & mutual sadism.

Alas, the kids who fill out the cast are dull actors all, yet the script is mainly about them. Mrs Tingle is supposed to be a skanky bad person & the young cast in an amusing pickle bordering on horror. But Merrin so out-acts them that hers is the richer character, & her ornery viciousness more justified given the students' actions.

The then-unknown Katie Holmes really never struck me as the sort of performer who'd have much staying power unless in some prime-time soap; imaginine my surprise she's still around. So sue me; I still think she's dull.

I wanted Miss Tingle to just kill all of the younger characters & shrink their heads. But we're actually supposed to prefer young snotnosed bad actors. I vastly preferred Mrs. Tingle.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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