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The Tingler (Blu-ray Review)

On August 21st, Scream Factory will once again re-enter the world of one of cinema’s greatest showmen; William Castle. Two releases are on the way, one of them being the classic buzzing experience of The Tingler. With The Tingler, Scream Factory has notched themselves another Vincent Price film for their canon. You’ll remember they did three lovely collections of his works, which probably won’t be seeing a fourth for the forseeable future. But, this is Price AND Castle, which is exciting. It features some terrific features, both new for this release and classic ones to boot. You’ll want to get this pre-order in so you can experience this old schlocky thriller on day 1, by using the Amazon pre-order link below (And thanks as always when you do).

Film 

Vincent Price stars as an obsessed doctor who discovers that fear manifests itself as a parasitic creature, which grows on the spinal cords of terrified people. If they scream, the Tingler can be destroyed. If they don’t, it will sever the spinal column and kill them. He successfully isolates and removes the Tingler from a deaf mute who has been scared to death by her devious husband. Once captured, the Tingler escapes and runs amok in a crowded movie theater. Terror is loose, but can it be stopped?

The Tingler is a bit of cheesy horror nostalgia to take in nowadays. Though, if you have very young kids, give this a spin and it might be fun for them. Its not very graphic, vulgar or any bit of “adult”, and its sorta science stuff is convincing enough for a child to buy into it. I’m not knocking the film by saying this, but if you would like to see The Tingler be at its most effective outside of just charming yourself with history, there you go.

What works best for The Tingler is the showcase of the bravado of Vincent Price. This movie gives him some of his career’s most challenging dialogue to make sound plausible, and he pulls it off. Price takes every role seriously, and gives it everything to be as believable as possible. The Tingler also gives him many opportunities to ham it up as well, with a few times him being alone and having to play up horrors and intrigue. Its quite a joy to see him just chew up all the scenery he can without swallowing.

Apologies for a little aside for a moment, but there was a line in the movie, a moment that Price delivered in such a way that I found touching and kind of fortunate for living in the time I have. A man is speaking to him about how he puts on revival screenings of films and Price says “I’d always liked to see one of Charlie Chaplin’s films again”. There was a time when that could have been a thing. Things weren’t as accessible, TV was sort of in infancy, and you didn’t really know if they’d show one or not. I probably sound stupid by being moved by something dramatic and off the cuff from The Tingler, but it was a big, perfectly played moment from Price that just struck me in a deeper way that it probably every intended too.

Anyhow, this is some fun cheese. Granted, the most effective way to see The Tingler, as made obvious by its finale, is in the theater. And not just “on the big screen”, but with William Castle and his spookshow effects in full measure, buzzing chairs and the like. The film is a product of a brief window, long since passed, and never truly ever revived. However, thanks to the master, Vincent Price, its still effective enough to be enjoyed.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Tingler looks rather terrific on Blu-ray. Its elements must have been in very good condidtion. Details are strong and the image is sharp and crisp. The sequence in the bathroom that utilizes the color red for effect looks a little worn and rough, but that’s it. Everything is in strong order here, looking damn near brand new. Of course some strings do become quite noticeable, but that’s all part of the charm, right?

Depth:  The image is very spacious here, with a nice 3 dimensional appeal on all persons and objects. Camera movements prove very smooth and confident.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep witha  very natural look. Impressively, there is a lot of good saturation with textures and patterns showing up very clearly.

Color Reproduction: N/A…well, there is one moment with some red in it.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones have their natural light gray color given the black and white film stock. Facial features like moles, wrinkles, make-up, lines and the like all are plenty visible at any reasonable distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Scream Factory’s mono presentation here is pretty impressive with is clean sounding clarity. There really is no hiss or dated sounding elements in it. Effects sound good and everything is layered neatly, creating a good balance with the score and vocals.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are full, clear and crisp sounding. Whatever the source on this, it was in really good shape.

Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • By Author/Historian Steve Haberman

I Survived The Tingler (SD, 4:10) – An interview with Pamela Lincoln as she talks about this being her claim to fame. She talks about working on it a little bit and how fans have embraced it.

Unleashing “Percepto” (HD, 2:58) – An interview with publicist Barry Lorie, who goes over what he would send out and how Castle would have him promote the films to publications and theaters.

Scream for Your Lives! William Castle and “The Tingler”: Vintage Featurette (SD, 15:38) – Ported over from another release, this is a nice little retrospective from some of the living members of cast/crew as well as other knowledgeable talking heads that go over the film, but also the relationship of William Castle and Vincent Price.

William Castle’s Drive-In “Scream!” Audio (HD, :50) – Drive-In version where Castle asks people to turn on their headlights.

Original “Scream” Scene (HD, :45) – Sounds like a recording of the audience from a show.

The Original 1959 Theatre Lobby Recording (HD, 2:39) – Pretty much an audio-only trailer.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:23)

Still Gallery (HD, 5:53)

Summary 

The Tingler is a wonderful relic of horror cheese from an era that we really have never had since, courtesy of William Castle’s showmanship. With great showmanship, Scream Factory gives the film a wonderful transfer with good crisp audio. The extras are a combo of new and ones ported over from other releases and cover some good ground overall. This is a nice fun collector’s item for horror fans to snatch up right away.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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