A few days ago, I mentioned that after watching Paura, I really didn't feel that I knew the director any more than I did before I watched the documentary about him. After watching Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story, I'd have to say the exact opposite holds true for me with regards to director/producer William Castle. Man, I feel like I know him so well now that I may actually BE William Castle!
If you're a horror fan, you know Castle's work. Even if his name doesn't immediately ring a bell, surely you've heard of more than a few films in his pantheon- movies like House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts, The Tingler, Homicidal, and so on. While his movies seldom rose above the typical schlocky B-movie genre fare of the late 50s-early 60s, it was his ingenious marketing schemes that earned Castle's work a spot in the history books. Each film received a bit of a road show as Castle traveled with them, hanging out at theatres during shows to meet and greet fans. He'd hand out insurance policies as nurses stood by vigilantly lest anyone die of fright; he brought to life several gimmicks with names like "Percept-O" and "Emerg-O", the latter of which included a skeleton "emerging" from the screen and flying over the audience during House on Haunted Hill. A carnival-like atmosphere surrounded the theatre when a Castle flick came to town, and the dollars piled up.
During Spine Tingler, we learn about how Castle got started in the business and we follow his career through his A-list triumph as producer of Rosemary's Baby. Through interviews with friends, family, co-workers, fans, and admirers such as Stuart Gordon, John Landis, and John Waters (who, as my friend aptly put it, is always the most interesting person in the room), viewers get incredible insight into Castle's motivations, foibles, and personality. Film buffs, horror buffs, anyone who likes a good documentary...I can't recommend Spine Tingler highly enough. Of particular interest to Final Girl folk is the lengthy segment given to Strait-Jacket, a former (awesome) Film Club choice, and its star Joan Crawford. It's a delight, I tells ya. A delight.
Perhaps I should come up with a gimmick to really drive the point home? Maybe "Recommend-O", wherein my thumbs-up-givin' hand flies out of your computer screen into your face. Hey, whatever it takes!