October 21, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 25 William Castle: The man with the gimmicks by Dennis Seuling No filmmaker loved the art of exploitation like William Castle. Castle produced and directed a successful series of horror films from the late ‘50s to the mid-‘60s, most of which relied on some gimmick to get audiences in their seats. “The William Castle Film Collection” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) includes eight of Castle’s films, three of which are making their DVD debut. Fascinated by the circus, New York stage plays, radio, and the movies, Castle spent most of his teenage years working on the stage in jobs ranging from set building to acting. He headed for Hollywood at age 23 and directed his first film six years later. He worked in many film genres and assisted director Orson Welles on the film noir classic “The Lady from Shanghai,” starring Rita Hayworth. His first movie as producer/director was “Macabre,” a routine mystery that Castle promoted with the phrase, “If it frightens you to death, you’ll be buried free of charge!” “The Tingler” (1959) stars Vincent Price as a doctor experimenting with the effects of fright. The concept, according to Castle’s script, is that when a person becomes frightened, the Tingler, a usually docile creature living on one’s spinal cord becomes activated. As the person’s fear escalates, the Tingler grows and becomes capable of breaking the person’s spine. The creature can be destroyed only if the frightened person screams. A main character (Judith Evelyn) is a deaf mute, and because she cannot scream, she is scared to death, freeing the Tingler to cause mayhem. The black-and-white film features gruesome images of a blood-filled bathtub and faucets dispensing blood. In theaters, certain seats were wired so that when the Tingler ran amok, audience members would receive a buzz. Castle coined the term Percepto to describe this effect. “Strait-Jacket” (1964) capitalized on Joan Crawford’s newfound fame as a horror star in “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” Here, she is harshly made up in dark pageboy wig, tight-fitting, age-inappropriate dresses, and jangling bracelets as an axmurderess released from an insane asylum after 20 years. As she tries to reconnect with her daughter (Diane Baker), suspicions arise as to whether she is still dangerous. When new murders occur, all eyes focus on her. “Homicidal” (1961), though not his most famous, is one of Castle’s best films. For once, the gimmick (a Fright Break 10 minutes before the end of the movie when audience members could get their money back if they sat in the Coward’s Corner) is secondary to the story. The brutal stabbing of a justice-of-the-peace initiates an Vincent Price experiments with the effects of fear in ‘The Tingler.’ investigation of dark family secrets in a quiet, small town. Castle was an admirer of Alfred Hitchcock and this, more than any of Castle’s other pictures, reflects the Hitchcock influence. Unlike most of his movies, which were geared for younger viewers, “Homicidal” deals with genuinely disturbing themes, manipulates the viewer throughout, and cleverly sets up a shocking climax. The other films in the five-disc Castle Collection box set are “13 Ghosts” (1960), “Mr. Sardonicus” (1961), “Zotz!” (1962), “Frightened Girls!” (1963), and “The Old Dark House” (1963). Bonus features include the documentary “Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story,” featurettes on Castle’s numerous promotional gimmicks, Joan Crawford wardrobe tests, and theatrical trailers featuring Castle. “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Live” (Time Life) is an impressive nine-disc box set chronicling rock and roll from its beginnings to the present. Created to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the set features 125 performances by the most influential and popular figures in rock music history. Among the artists are Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Tom Petty, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Eight of the discs feature an assortment of performances spanning more than two decades of ceremonies, induction and acceptance speeches, and never-beforeseen backstage and rehearsal footage. The ninth disc features “The Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” a concert that opened the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland in 1995. Performers at this concert include John Mellencamp, Bon Jovi, Lou Reed, Soul Asylum, The Allman Brothers, Sheryl Crow, The Kinks, John Fogerty, James Brown, and Al Green. Over the years, rock icons have inducted (continued on Crossword page) �������� �������� ��������� �������� ��������������������������������������������� Sunday & Monday NFL Ticket on Direct TV ���������� ���������� Halloween Party Football Menu & Bar Specials Regular Menu also available � �������������� �������� ��������� ������������������������ in our Bar Area PRIZE FOR THE BEST COSTUME! BAR & DRINK SPECIALS Saturday, October 31 9 pm until Closing �������������� ����������������� �������������� ������������������� � �� ����������������������������������������� �� �������������������� �������������������� ��������������������� �������������� ������������� � �� HAPPY HOU R �� ������� �������������������������������������������������������������������� 10-21-09 Ester/Janine ������������������������������������������������