This is classic hokey-ness at its hokey best. In the 60’s we just knew … anything with Vincent Price was something we had to see.
His most well-known movies are based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe … The Raven, The Pit and the Pendulum, House of Usher, and others. But I’m always surprised at how few of my friends remember The Tingler. How could anyone forget The Tingler? Fortunately it lives on, popping up occasionally on the TCM channel.
The little rubber monster – with legs that couldn’t even move, for pete’s sake! – was more disgusting than scary. The acting wasn’t so great, but was better by this time (1959) than most of its predecessors.
But the concept was intriguing …
Vincent Price’s character, Dr. Chapin, discovers that humans have a tiny, barely noticeable parasite living at the base of their spine. Every time the human host gets frightened, the parasite feeds off their fear and grows! Then more fear, more growth, and it gets bigger and bigger until it finally kills the host.
Now we know the real reason why horror movies aren’t good for us!
But this thing could be killed by screaming … release that fear, get it out of your body, and the parasite will starve and die. So we’re okay … go ahead and watch those horror flicks … just be sure to scream at the appropriate times.
(Can you see now why I loved watching these movies? Trained counselors and psychologists will tell you that it’s healthy to release negative emotions and not hold them inside. They had to go to school to learn that, but I found out simply by staying up late on Friday nights watching movies!!)
Of course, when the characters in the movie find out we all have a tingler inside, that makes a perfect ploy for one guy to kill his deaf/mute wife by scaring her to death, knowing she can’t scream. And there’s the classic scene inside a movie theater where people are watching a scary movie, and Dr. Chapin gets on the intercom to tell them all to Scream! Save yourselves and SCREAM!!
They did manage to capture the tingler from the body of the murdered wife, and another character, who wants to murder Dr. Chapin, releases it into the room where he’s asleep on a sofa. I can’t believe that in 1959 they couldn’t figure out a way to make the tingler’s legs move a little more naturally. I bet any toymaker could’ve solved that problem for them … maybe it was a budget issue …
In any case, while Dr. Chapin sleeps on the sofa, this big rubber centipede-looking thing gets dragged across the floor and up onto the sofa and onto Dr. Chapin via an invisible string. It then proceeds to choke him with its mandibles …
And now that I’m thinking about how they dragged that thing across the floor … forget the screaming … all they really needed was a cat!