He was best known for directing '50s and '60 B-movies like 13 Ghosts, The Tingler and House on Haunted Hill, and for the showmanship that presented these films to audiences in ingeniously interactive ways. And now, a documentary on William Castle--Spine Tingler!: The William Castle Story--is playing to strong reviews at the Sarasota Film Festival, having previously played at the AFI Film Festival, the Jakarta International Film Festival, the Slamdance Film Festival and the Magnolia Independent Film Festival.
The film is directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, who has made a career of producing and directing DVD making-of featurettes for the past decade, several of which were about horror films and the films of Castle in particular. Spine Tingler! features interviews with the likes of Forrest J. Ackerman, Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Donald F. Glut, John Landis, Leonard Maltin, Marcel Marceau (no jokes, please) and John Waters.
My dad has recalled to me some of Castle's famous gimmickry, including such novelties as "Percepto"--a motion picture effect that electrified theater-goers seats to make them vibrate. In addition to his B-features, Castle also fulfilled a lifelong dream in 1968 by producing A-list highbrow horror film Rosemary's Baby (although the studio insisted that Roman Polanski, and not Castle, direct it.)
With any luck, once Spine Tingler!: The William Castle Story makes the rounds at all the festivals, it will hit DVD shelves, so that the rest of us can enjoy it as well.
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