Manor On Movies special edition–The Tingler

The Tingler (1959)

I have had the honor of being invited to participate in the 2020 Vincent Price Blogathon.  As such, this is a departure from the usual Manor On Movies fare (see the postscript), in that the reviewed movie is not a junkfilm.

Vincent Price_Blogathon2

The year was…long enough ago, I can’t pinpoint it.

Nicky Fanelli, the oldest member and consequently leader of our childhood gang, decided he was going to guide a small group of us to our local picture palace, where we would watch a monster movie.  Ah, cooool!!!

This was a Big Adventure for us.  The Waverly was a mile or so away—quite a trek for little-kids’ legs—and we’d never gone there without a parent dropping us off.  But Nicky claimed to know the way; and, after needlessly cutting through a number of backyard hedges and zigzagging along the route, there was the Waverly marquee, in all its unlit matinee glory.

Because we were young sweethearts, we also had a Plan B:  Nicky told us a monster was going to walk up the aisle; and, we were going to jump it and beat it up.  Awww, weren’t we a bunch of darlings?

No monster ever appeared—Nicky was also a big fat liar—but, in actuality, our “leader” wasn’t far off the mark.  The movie was The Tingler, directed and produced by master showman William Castle, notorious for promotional gimmicks such as skeletons flying over theater patrons’ heads, and nurses in the lobby for a film in which each audience member was insured by Lloyd’s Of London against “Death By Fright.”

Tingler insert

Although, because we were seeing The Tingler in re-release, the Waverly wasn’t set up in the following fashion, during the scarepic’s first run, selected theater seats were rigged to give the inhabitants a minor electrical shock sensation at a designated point in the movie(!)

Few who saw the film actually “got a charge” out of doing so.  But Castle wasn’t done there.  Oh, no, he had a couple more scary gimmicks up his devious sleeve.

First off, the film was shot in black-and-white…EXCEPT for a segment where blood flowed through a bathroom sink faucet and filled a bathtub—and only the blood was in color, a high-saturation red, for full effect.  A brilliant stunt, leaving such an impactful impression, I can still visualize it all these centuries after first witnessing the scene.

Tingler bloodbath MARKED MY gif

A second slick trick occurred later in the proceedings, this one tip-toeing along breaking the fourth wall.  The scene involved patrons in a theater watching a movie—just like you, the Tingler viewer, were doing—when, suddenly, the film stock decayed and a silhouette of a “tingler” (sort of a supersized centipede) crossed the screen.  Then, the film-within-a-film screen went pitch-black, which in turn put your theater in total darkness, as a panicky voice announced said monster was loose and the viewers’ only salvation was to “Scream, scream for your life!!!”

Tingler traier scream MARKED MY GIF

That was when the wired seats zapped the unsuspecting real-world theatergoers, an effect Castle labeled “Percepto” in ad copy guaranteeing a whatzit would “break loose while you are in the theater.”

Which bring us to the best “gimmick” of them all:  the terrified speaker and star of the movie was Vincent Price.

(A good thing, considering how pointless the above intro would be if this were a blogathon dedicated to someone else.)

 

I am an advocate of avoiding what co-host Barry calls the “book report” form of review, i.e. going into a lengthy synopsis of a film’s entire plotline—and often “spoiling” it for those who have yet to see the flick.  However, I’m not averse to providing some details to whet the appetite.

City pathologist Doctor Warren Chapin (Price) is convinced extreme fear has a physical manifestation, his obsession ruining his marriage to a two-timing tramp and hogging most of the spare time of his youthful assistant David Morris, who is also the fiancé of Doc Chapin’s live-in sister-in-law.

The Vin Man about to play another mad scientist type, right?  Actually, in a rare twist, he is not, even though someone will literally be scared to death to help advance his research, and the good doctor tries out a little-known-about drug called LSD.  (Yes, in 1959!)

Dr. Chapin’s theories prove to be valid, as he extracts a “tingler” from the spinal column of a recently deceased individual, hence the creature that escapes to terrorize the moviegoers.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Tingler attacks Price MARKED MY GIF
The Man Of The Hour

Price “dials it down”—by Vincent Price Movie standards—being a consummate pro and understanding what the role requires.  And beautiful Patricia Cutts shines in her small part as the scheming sluttty Mrs. Chapin.

If, while watching, you think “Hmm, ‘David Morris’ could pass for Dobie Gillis’ brother”…well, that’s because he is played by Darryl Hickman, older brother of Dwayne, star of The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis, the sitcom featuring Darryl as Dobie’s big brother Davey in three episodes.

Other cult-film faves in multiple episodes include William Schallert, John Fiedler, Yvonne Craig, Michael J. Pollard, Charles Lane and Lynn Loring, as well as some flash-in-the-pan kid zooming to obscurity and billed as “Ron Howard.”

Getting back to The Tingler, although it won’t scare you to death, it has an unusual premise, (at least) one VERY memorable scene, and solid performances; never insults the audience’s intelligence or requires them to ignore plot holes; and, features Vincent Price in nearly every frame.

As per always, Price commands the viewers’ attention—which shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.

Even if their chair is wired to an electric generator.

Tingler candid cool
Rare candid shot, with William Castle and two Tingler co-stars

ManorOnMovies.com is dedicated to rave-reviewing the very best of the very worst.  I come to praise The Creeping Terror, not to bury it. If you are into the screwball fun of mostly obscure stinkeroos, yawta drop by.  It is NOT your typical “bad movies” site, nor is my writing style typical.  You’ll see.

Cash On Demand–Hammer non-horror

Hammer-Amicus Blogathon II - logo

The following is an entry in the above blogathon, in which I am very flattered to be included as a participant.

 

CASH ON DEMAND opening title

Cash On Demand (1961)

dir:  Quentin Lawrence

When you think of Peter Cushing, you think horror movies.  When you think of Peter Cushing and Hammer Studios, you think, um…horror movie double feature.

<adopts completely fraudulent Australian accent> But what if I were to tell yeeoo Peter Cushing starred in an excellent holiday movie from that very steeyoodio?

That would be 1961’s Cash On Demand, a drama with a dash of caper flick, directed by Quentin “Not That Thief Tarantino” Lawrence.

Care for a detailed breakdown of the film’s many twists and turns?  Well, too bad.  This is a review, not a book report.  Nonetheless, magnanimous Mister Manor will supply a brief synopsis to provide a general idea, rather than spoil all that transpires, before you see the damn movie. (Glaring at you, Eighteen Paragraphs Of Plot Summary Person.)

 

Just before Christmas, the vault flush with pound notes, staid spit-and-polish bank manager Harry Fordyce (Cushing) is visited by Colonel Gore Hepburn (Andre Morell), an inspector from the firm’s insurance company, who arrived in town so recently, he’s still toting luggage.

Eyeing the books and touring the premises, tailed by the nervous Fordyce, everything seems to be in satisfactory order.  That is until a seemingly casual conversation in the manager’s office reveals Hepburn’s true intentions.

The inspector is an imposter and ringleader of a criminal enterprise, insisting Fordyce stuff said suitcase with a load of loot and not make a single hoot that will alert the bank staff or police.  To ensure Fordyce’s cooperation, the gang has kidnapped the manager’s son and wife; and it will take but a simple hand signal out the window to have one of Hepburn’s henchmen murder Mrs. F and the boy.

cash-on-demand-2 shot Cushing n Morell

Though that snippet of storyline may make Cash On Demand seem like a crime drama or suspense—and there are elements of both in play—it’s much more about the interaction between two central characters almost casually doing their jobs.  Don’t expect Die Hard:  London Calling.  Or even a glimpse of a weapon—besides the old gray matter.

Peter Cushing, as per usual, shines and works masterfully with a foil, slowly transforming from an aloof to a sympathetic character.  Understandably distraught, and clearly devoted to his family—and thus humanized—Fordyce maintains as much composure as could be expected under the circumstances.  Peter C plays it perfectly, concerned but courageous, without getting melodramatic.  (After all, this guy killed Dracula; so, he knows a bit about “never let them see you sweat.”)

Cushing’s counterpart Andre Morell (who was in Oscar-winners Bridge On The River Kwai and the 1959 version of Ben Hur) hangs in there with his co-star blow-for-blow, acting-wise, his Hepburn bordering on affable, by screen baddies standards.

Putting aside the whole kidnappy-murdery aspect of his personality, that is.

Like Cushing, Morell reels it in, providing just enough villainous overtones without venturing into sinister psychotic territory.  It’s almost like “I’m the bad guy, you’re the good guy.  My job is to threaten and intimidate people for other people’s money.  Nothing personal.”

And the two leads knowing exactly how to interpret the roles makes the whole thing work.

Of course the screenplay and direction deserve “credit” as well.  Director Lawrence weaves in enough of the rest of the cast to give each of the bank’s staff a touch of depth, from Fordyce’s harped-on subordinate to the office playboy.cash-on-demand-movie-poster-1962-1020461268

By doing so, it not only inspires viewers to care about those potentially in harm’s way, but it also breaks up what would otherwise be an 84-minute two-man show and very likely grow tedious, even with the stellar performances of Cushing and Morell.

Except for a brief trip to the vault, Cash On Demand takes place in Fordyce’s office and the bank office visible to the public.  Consequently, while viewing the film, I could envision it as a stage production or perhaps one of those live TV broadcasts.  (One creepy critic called it “claustrophobic.”)  As it turns out, it was a telecasted presentation, Cash On Demand being a cinematic reworking of the British television series Theater 70 episode “The Gold Inside”…co-starring Andre Morell.

Considering all the remakes constantly cranked out and how the bulk of them are based on already overexposed characters and scenarios…well, it’s just a thought.

With the number of Tinseltown movers and shakers always drawn to Barry’s blogathons and the way these same Hollywood pests hang on my every word, we’ll have to wait and see if there will be another C.O.D.

In the meantime, I’ve used my immense influence to secure a copy of the original for thee to see for free.  Just click on the link, rat fink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5xa6iZdme8