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Tuesday, August 3

The Tingler is a trippy film

I’ve always been a huge Vincent Price fan, and one of my favorite of his films is The Tingler. Directed by William Castle, king of the gimmicks, The Tingler is a rather hokey but fun story. It involves a doctor named Dr. Warren Chapin, played by Price, who is studying fear and its effects on the human body. During the course of these studies he has discovered the existence of a strange creature called The Tingler that lives inside each of us. The tingler resembles a large centipede or insect of some kind, and grows along the spinal column of its victim. It feeds on the fear of its victims.

One of the more unusual scenes in this film involves a bit of experimentation by the good doctor – drug experimentation. In order to study the effects of fear in an extreme condition, he intentionally injects himself with LSD and keeps tabs on its effects as begins tripping. This climaxes in an unintentionally hilarious freak out moment as Vincent screams dramatically and passes out.

This scene in The Tingler is believed to be the first instance of LSD usage in a motion picture. I don’t believe the idea for this scene came from director William Castle. Granted, Castle was probably more than willing to go along with this or any trend, honestly, that might make his film more controversial or draw more butts to seats. However I believe the credit for this particular sequence has to go to writer Robb White.

White and Castle were long time collaborators, and White wrote the scripts for many of Castle’s best pictures – The Tingler, House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts, Homicidal, and Macabre, to be exact. White was a preacher’s son who tended, like many PK’s, to be a bit of a hellion. He went to school at UCLA (a historically liberal college) and experimented with LSD while there after hearing about it from writer Aldous Huxley. Huxley was, of course, best known for his novel Brave New World – he was also well known as an advocate for LSD, a legal drug at that time.

Huxley was also interested in the supernatural and parapsychology. I wonder if this was just a shared interest between White and Huxley or if perhaps if Huxley had more of an influence on White than just drug usage. White’s scripts for Castle are full of scenes and themes of the supernatural, ghosts, parapsychology and the macabre, all subjects that Huxley was interested in, so the idea he was an influence on White seems quite plausible.

The Tingler was a box office success – made for just $400,000 it grossed over 2 million. Castle was in his prime as a promoter and screenwriter White had turned in an unusual and imaginative script. Add to it Vincent Price at the peak of his abilities and you had a formula for success.


  1. 認識自己,是發現妳的真性格、掌握妳的命運、創照你前程的根源。.......................................................

  2. OK I have no idea what that says, but hopefully it's nothing dirty!

  3. Poor Vinnie had a bad trip. The Tingler is just so much fun despite the bad science. Wait, in the background...could that be the very same skeleton used in House on Haunted Hill? Perhaps Vinnie's acid trip was in Emergo!
    Personally, I think all the 4D theme park movies owe a great debt of gratitude to Castle. I was putting buzzers in chairs and skeletons decending on audiences long before Disney or Universal did their Shrek and Tough to be a Bug shows.
    Dreaded Dreams
    Petunia Scareum

  4. I love this freakin movie!