FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE...beware yon spoilers!

Jun 23, 2011

Review-O!

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!

8 comments:

Erich Kuersten said...

Aint no DOUBT Castle was King!! Love that crazy Tingler - Castle was the original PT Barnum Who Would Be Hitchcock-- let's home he's not the last. An old professor here at Pratt actually saw House on Haunted Hill in EMERGO (with the skeleton) - and he said it was amazing. I can't remember if he did or didn't get a wired Tingler seat. Wait, that sounds dirty.

AE said...

Fabulos-O! I'll have to check this out. I love William Castle and his manly 3-D chin!

Anonymous said...

William Castle imbued his films with such an incredible re-watchability factor and i actually think thats THE most impressive thing that any film-maker can achieve when making movies, even more impressive than: Oscar wins, rave reveiws, or massive box-office.

Ryan Clark said...

Recommend-O has a nice ring to it. Really rolls off your tongue, you know?

Blake said...

God bless William Castle. For more fun, you should check out his autobiography, "Step Right Up..I'm Gonna Scare the Pants Off America," which is just as good-natured and cheerfully self-promoting as his movies. What a doll that man was.

Blake said...

Wait a minute--movies can't be "self-promoting." Well, I just woke up.

gOnZoRiFFiC said...

I've seen this twice and cried both times. I really identify with Castle's sense of humor about himself, love for movies and the sincerity of his efforts.

Robert Stoll said...

I'll have to check this one out! For tangentially related entertainment, I recommend Joe Dante's love letter to William Castle, "Matinee." That's the one that stars John Goodman as a Castle-like filmmaker shamelessly promoting his latest movie with gimmicks like "Atomo-Vision" and "Rumble-Rama." The film-within-a-film, "MANT!" ("Half Man. Half Ant. ALL TERROR!"), is worth the price of admission alone.