While the combination of urban legend
and increasingly dim memories have bolstered Percepto’s reputation, the
movie itself provides the usual Castle wild ride of shock tactics and
uneven storytelling. In Robb White’s screenplay, pathologist Warren
Chapin (Vincent Price) discovers that all humans have a centipedish
creature lurking in their spines, and that screaming keeps the critter
at bay during life’s most hair-raising moments. But if you’re unable to
scream, like that deaf-mute lady (Judith Evelyn) running an old movie
house devoted to classic silents (how’s that for irony?), is it
possible that the spinal resident—dubbed by Chapin as the Tingler—could
help manifest a person’s death from pure fright?
White’s script makes less sense as it
unravels, but it comes off best as a series of delirious high points:
Chapin uses a gun to cause his unfaithful spouse (Patricia Cutts) to
faint so he can examine her Tingler; Chapin then shoots up lysergic
acid so he can scare himself and arouse his own Tingler; and the deaf
mute confronts disturbing images like a bathtub filled with bright-red
blood. The climax has the Tingler loose in the theater during a
screening of 1921’s Tol’able David, with the screen going to
black for 40 seconds as the movie-within-a-movie’s audience goes into
panic mode. And screaming in the dark is part of the fun with The Tingler’s fearsome fromage homage.
The Tingler runs in a 35mm print
on Saturday, Oct. 25, 7 p.m., at Rome’s Capitol Theatre, 220 W.
Dominick St. The movie and a slew of terror-themed trailers are part of
an evening that will be patterned after spook shows of the 1950s and
1960s, with magician Leon Etienne on stage and even a Frankenstein
monster stalking the premises. Capitol management also claims that the
Percepto gimmick will be employed, but even if that trick doesn’t pan
out, it’s hard to quibble about the prices. In keeping with the
Capitol’s 80th anniversary, ducats will be rolled back to 1959 fees, 90
cents for adults and 50 cents for children under 12. For information,
Scream gems: Pathologist Vincent Price examines cheating wife Patricia Cutts, while a moviegoer discovers The Tingler, playing Saturday at Rome’s Capitol Theatre.