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THE TINGLER - 3 Slimes
Copyright 1959 William Castle Productions
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 'a long time ago'

The Characters:  

  • Warren - Vincent Price! Pathologist who has been studying fear and its effect on the human body. The sharpness of his scalpel is only matched by his razor wit.
  • Isabel - Warren's cheating wife, she hates being married to a man not drawn to parties and social events.
  • David - Warren's assistant and a good guy, worries at times that the doctor might go too far.
  • Lucy - David's girlfriend and Isabel's younger sister.
  • Oliver - Unhappy man, helps his wife run an old theater, but does not like being married to a spinster.
  • Martha - Oliver's deaf and mute wife who has a serious phobia about blood, in addition to constantly washing her hands and making sure her safe is locked. Dies of fright.
  • The Tingler - Creature that feeds on fear and lives inside the human body. The one removed from Martha's corpse looks like a disgusting centipede.

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The Plot: 

Films based on crazy scientific premises (not that I critique any of those) are usually something I find easy to poke fun at. However, after watching this one for only a few minutes I had already suspended belief, entirely willing to go with the idea of a parasite living along my spine; a creature capable of killing me unless those very tensions we experience, in moments of terror, are screamed away.

We begin with a humorous introduction by William Castle, he gives us that trademark wry smile while talking about how scared we shall be watching his film. Then the grand showman hints at "Percepto" and members of the audience experiencing the Tingler sensation. Theaters had some seats set up to give the reclining watcher a mild electric shock, sort of a "tingling" along your spine! Imagine it, as a youngster, watching this film on a Saturday afternoon when suddenly a jolt makes you jump in the seat! Popcorn flies everywhere and friends wonder what in the heck your problem is. Who is going to sell the idea of electrocuting the audience these days? Surely, I was born twenty-five years too late.

Warren's duties as a coroner for Death Row bring him into contact with Oliver (whose brother-in-law was fried in the chair) and Martha. From idle conversation the disillusioned husband learns of Warren's belief that a person can die of fear, giving him the perfect chance to dispose of Martha. Assisted by the patented "hand reaching around the door" and a bathtub full of blood (in color!) his plan works and the poor lady is killed by her own terror.

Oddly enough if anyone in this film should want to kill off their spouse, it would be the good doctor. Isabel flounces her infidelity in Warren's face several times. He always catches her stealing kisses in the front yard or notices a strange tie clip left astray, she is lucky he does not take more drastic action.

Something happened a few paragraphs back that was important... ...oh, Martha died! Warren performs a spontaneous autopsy to remove the huge Tingler, its growth unchecked by screaming due to her voiceless nature. The actual removal is performed behind a screen and watching that ghastly shadow being pulled from a woman's lifeless body allows one's imagination to run wild.

Of course the Tingler manages to escape and cause panic in a theater - much like the one the audience was in. Now, as Price urges the audience to "Scream! Scream for your lives!" the projector is turned off and electric current is applied to those lucky patrons. After a few moments the thing is paralyzed by screaming and the interactive part of the film ends. The Tingler can now be returned to the host body (well, corpse) where the characters believe it will naturally expire.

The film keeps you guessing at a few points (hats off for not spelling everything out letter by letter), in fact I am still not certain Warren had nothing to do with the mute lady's death. Wouldn't that be delicious? He used Oliver as an unknowing patsy all along, having guessed the husband's scheme and providing a helping hand with the mysterious injection.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Women faint at the sight of blood.
  • Cats are mighty unfriendly after being trapped and placed into a metal cage.
  • Never commit adultery in your front yard.
  • Don't marry a pathologist if you poisoned your father to gain the inheritance.
  • Reading a wristwatch, while tripping on acid, is not easy.
  • Silent movies do not put women into a romantic mood.
  • Tinglers need love too!
  • Film cases make handy prisons for giant centipedes.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 9 mins - She has a doily on her safe, hehehehe!
  • 12 mins - Oh no, no obsessive-compulsive behavior here...
  • 20 mins - The book's front cover is on the wrong side.
  • 22 mins - Zing! Score one for Warren!
  • 29 mins - Zing number two! Warren is on a role!
  • 34 mins - Get your foot off the coffee table, what sort of manners are those?
  • 48 mins - I think she forgot to pay the electric bill.
  • 60 mins - Maybe Warren should sew the body up first, tearing a huge centipede off the spinal column might leave a mess.
  • 64 mins - Are those strings?
  • 76 mins - Scream! Scream for your lives!


  • Warren: "Try putting an electrode, soaked in saline solution, on your head and another one strapped to your leg, and then slamming two thousand volts between them. If it hurts, let me know."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note tingler1.wav Warren: "I have never seen anyone so terrified, or so unable to release her fear tensions."
Green Music Note tingler2.wav Isabel: "The only way Dave Morris will marry my sister is over my dead body."
Warren: "Unconventional, but not impossible."
Green Music Note tingler3.wav Warren: "Look at that Tingler Dave, it's an ugly and dangerous thing! Ugly because it's the creation of man's fear, which is ugly too. Dangerous because...because a frightened man is dangerous."
Green Music Note tingler4.wav Scream! Scream for your lives!

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Cliptingler1.mpg - 2.5m
That is one mean centipede.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2 3 4
The Tingler
Reply #1. Posted on June 26, 2000, 02:46:44 PM by Ken Begg
Sorry, boys, it's clearly an earwig/centipede mix.

As much as I hate to deconstruct such a famous myth, Percepto didn't shock the audience, it vibrated the seat.  Same effect, though.  And yes, we could certainly use more William Castles these sorry days.  Check out Matinee for Joe Dante's homage to the master.
The Tingler
Reply #2. Posted on July 01, 2000, 04:10:57 AM by Goreomedy
Ken, you beat me to the punch in mentioning Matinee.

Tingler happens to be my favorite Castle film, and I thought "Mant" was a great homage.  They don't make them like they used to, do they?  

In sad news, the next Castle film to receive the Hollywood rape treatment(first being House on Haunted Hill) will be 13 Ghosts.  They promise to have updated "Illusiono" effects.

Why can't they leave well enough alone?
The Tingler
Reply #3. Posted on July 06, 2000, 10:03:38 AM by Paul Westbrook
Definately, a Price classic. The Tingler was a movie, I remember seeing at a late night feature, when I was 6.William Castle introduced audiences to Percepto (a mild way to shock filmgoers.) Castle would have seats rigged with shock devices, which would zap the unsuspecting individual in the seat. The idea of perceiving the emotion of fear, in the form of this cetipede-like creature seems a little silly, by today's standard, but one cannot deny that The Tingler is an unforgettable Vincent Price thiller, and must be seen.
The Tingler
Reply #4. Posted on July 16, 2000, 07:22:26 AM by Tony
Yes, William Castle was definitely ahead of his time and this really is one of his best movies in my opinion, even tho is is cheesy when you see it now. But you gotta remember he made this way back in the 50's and times were alot diffrent back then. I've heard rumours that they wanna make a remake of this movie, a-la House on Hanted Hill, but don't know if that will ever happen. Seems ol' Mr. Castle was always dreaming up new ways to get the audience more involved in his movies, its just too bad none of today's directors take hints from him! Vincent Price also gives a good preformance here, but theres other movies where he excels even more such as Theator of Blood. But the thing that still cracks me up is when he injects the LSD and starts freaking out! I'm surprized that nobody really mentions this considering that this was back when LSD was actually legal to use! Oh well, how times do change...
The Tingler
Reply #5. Posted on July 28, 2000, 03:31:35 PM by Christy
This is a strange film, with some "pregnancy" overtones (alien body growing inside of you). It's also on my list of "Films One Should Not See While Sick And/Or Pregnant."
By the way, Aliens and The Fly (1986) are also on that list.
The Tingler
Reply #6. Posted on July 29, 2000, 08:29:39 PM by Budd
Sure would have gotten a kick out of seeing this one in a theater. It just wasn't the same on TV.
The Tingler
Reply #7. Posted on August 21, 2002, 05:20:30 AM by luke Bannon
One of the best horror films I have seen. Vincent Price once again showing he was one of the greatest actors in the genre!
The Tingler
Reply #8. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Fred
The Tingler was an o.k. fright flick, desperately in need of a bigger budget. William Castle and his gimmicks were the real stars of this film. My favorite Castle films are The House on Haunted Hill, The Old Dark House,The Night Walker, Let's Kill Uncle & The Spirit is Willing. It's a shame that not all of Castle's films are available on tape or DVD.       WILLIAM CASTLES RULES!!!
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