The Tingler (1959)

tingler poster 1959 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 5/10

Smart use of gimmicks

So-so visuals and creature

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Tingler

Studio:  Columbia Pictures/William Castle Productions

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  July 29, 1959

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

tingler william castle warning opening

He tries to warn you…but you keep watching!!!

There is something living inside everyone.  Something that grows with fear and is there at the moment of death…the Tingler.  Dr. Warren Chapin (Vincent Price) discovers this parasitic creature, but his attempts to prove its existence and study it faces challenges.  The only means to stop the Tingler is to unleash a bloody scream, and a deaf, mute named Martha (Judith Evelyn) could be the key to unlocking the secret of the Tingler.  Once the Tingler is unleashed, the horror may never be contained.

Directed by William Castle, The Tingler is a horror thriller.  The movie when aired in specialized theaters featured Percepto! Which was a means to enhance viewers experience with buzzers to create “tingling” feelings during the showing.

William Castle is a director that had a similar reputation to Ed Wood or Roger Corman in that sometimes the movie took second fiddle to the experience or the cost.  William Castle’s The Tingler feels like a culmination of his style and storytelling.

tingler bloody hand bathtub

Effective effect

The movie moves rather slowly (much like the Tingler itself).  There are some weird plotlines involving Vincent Price’s home life and the life of the deaf-mute woman Martha.  It is often cited as one of the aspects that make The Tingler a little deeper (an examination of marriages), but it also feels incidental and that it could be reading more into the story…movie actually has a lot of pieces of something that could have actually been a big, memorable plot if they had been teased out as they have since its release.

Vincent Price always is a fun lead and this movie has him going from somewhat villainous to hero.  You automatically read villain into Price but in The Tingler, his “science above all else” turns into a realization from his character that he has to cover up his discovery because it isn’t meant to be known to man…reversing his moral compass.

tingler vincent price monster creature

He’s totally getting…tingled

In addition to the great taped opening by William Castle warning the audience of the dangers of watching The Tingler and how to fight succumbing to the Tingler, you get some interesting visuals.  The monster itself is a rather lame creature (though it does show it can get around in the movie theater scene), Castle does some stuff with the visuals like the bloody bathtub which is a genius move in a black-and-white movie.

The Tingler surprisingly outdoes the gimmicks that William Castle sets up with movie.  The film could just have lived on the Percepto! shooting style, but it actually smartly teams with it.  The audience is encouraged to scream and get wild…I don’t know if they did, but it is a lot of fun.  Movies like Matinee took the ideas of movies like The Tingler and explored this period of time in cinematic history.  Though I hate gimmicks like 3D, I would be interested to see the film as it was originally presented…tingle on!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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