Blu Release – 2.5/5
Director – William Castle (House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts)
Starring – Vincent Price (Last Man on Earth, Edward Scissorhands), Judith Evelyn (Thriller, Rear Window), and Darryl Hickman (Baywatch, The Nanny)
Release Date – 1959
Rating – 3.5/5
Tagline – “Terror is just over your shoulder”
I’ve said that I wanted to live through the golden age of drive-in cinema with all the grindhouse and exploitation double features that would play. However, if I could really pick a time in cinema history to visit I would have to go with the years that William Castle was unleashing his gimmicks to packed theaters. Going to one of his movies was an experience and I’m sure it was one that many didn’t forget. Hell, I love his gimmicks even now.
The Tingler is by far one of his most popular gimmicks and one that Vincent Price fans eat up. I’ve always enjoyed this one and when I saw that Umbrella Entertainment was releasing it with another Price film I knew I had to revisit it. I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send a copy my way. Thanks guys!
**Spoiler Alert** the film follows Dr. Chapin who is studying the effects of fear on the human body and his obsession with this has lead to the discovery of a creature called the tingler. When you scream it paralyzes the creature allowing it to drop free of your body, however, if you do not scream or unable to scream it is able to feast on your fear. **Spoiler Alert**
The Tingler is one of the more popular Vincent Price films but, honestly, it’s not one of my favorite. There is several more of his films that I would prefer over this one. With that being said, this is probably my favorite gimmick of Castle’s where he would have theater employees scare movie goers by sneaking up behind them with the tingler.
The acting in this one is great. Price has never let me down in a film and this one is probably his most out there performance. Watching him scream and hallucinate is a highlight of the film and completely out of character from his other work. The supporting cast is fun as well with some unintentionally funny moments coming out of their serious approach to such a silly story. I really enjoy the cast in this one and the characters they delivered.
The story for this one is obviously written around the gimmick that Castle had created. It works from a marketing stand point and as a late night creature feature it has some fun moments. I really enjoyed the silly side of this film and when you look at it from the gimmick stand point you can’t help but smile thinking about all the people in a theater finding themselves being spooked by employees. It’s clever all around and the movie is so enjoyable.
Finally, the film has blood but nothing too crazy. However, it does have some creature feature fun with the tingler crawling around an old theater terrorizing the audience. I loved the look and it has that 1950’s b-movie charm. Overall, The Tingler is such a fun film. It’s a silly story but the cast and idea behind it makes for such a good time. Fans of classic horror or Vincent Price should really check this one out.
The Mad Magician
Director – John Brahm (The Twilight Zone, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour)
Starring – Vincent Price (Theater of Blood, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein), Mary Murphy (Circle of Fear, My Favorite Spy), and Eva Gabor (Green Acres, The Rescurers)
Release Date – 1954
Rating – 3/5
Tagline – “Astonishing! Astounding! Amazing!”
Vincent Price is one of my favorite actors from the black and white age of horror. He never lets me down but there has been a few times where he was brilliant but the film was not as entertaining. When Umbrella Entertainment announced the double feature of Price’s The Tingler and The Mad Magician I was really excited to check it out. The Tingler is one I’ve always enjoyed but I had never seen 1954’s The Mad Magician before. It was a fun flick but an easily forgettable one as well.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows Don Callico (Price) who has spent his life creating illusions for several of the world’s biggest names in stage magic. However, after dedicating so many of his years doing this for other people he has decided to star in his own stage show. Sadly, his big day is ruined when his boss stops the show and confiscates his newest act. Heartbroken and destroyed, he sets out to kill all those people that has ruined his dreams and broke his heart. **Spoiler Alert**
The Mad Magician is enjoyable but it’s not as fun as other films he has been in. You would think that I would enjoy this a lot more considering it was a proto-slasher but the way in which it was done distracts the viewer. I wanted to love it as much as I do his other films but it wasn’t as fun.
The acting in this one is actually pretty fun. Price delivers a stellar performance as always while channeling different personalities. Honestly, aside from the hallucination scene in The Tingler, this is probably his most ambitious performance that I had seen. The supporting cast is entertaining but they don’t touch Price.
The story for this one is similar to the classic slashers several decades before they were trendy. We follow someone that was wronged as they seek out and murder those that did him ill. The film works for the most part but I’m not much of a fan of the magic back drop. Nothing about the film feels terrifying or menacing. In fact, the only reason I enjoyed the film was because of how over the time Price was in the film.
Finally, like most films of the mid-50s, this one is not gruesome of bloody. We get a few camera tricks and fun camera angles but The Mad Magician lacks atmosphere and bloodshed. Overall, The Mad Magician is fun for a first time watch but it doesn’t really hold up well nor does it deliver on the chills that other 50s classics starring Price does. It’s worth at least one watch but that’s it.