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THE TINGLER - 3 Slimes
Copyright 1959 William Castle Productions
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 'a long time ago'

The Characters:  

  • Warren - Vincent Price! Pathologist who has been studying fear and its effect on the human body. The sharpness of his scalpel is only matched by his razor wit.
  • Isabel - Warren's cheating wife, she hates being married to a man not drawn to parties and social events.
  • David - Warren's assistant and a good guy, worries at times that the doctor might go too far.
  • Lucy - David's girlfriend and Isabel's younger sister.
  • Oliver - Unhappy man, helps his wife run an old theater, but does not like being married to a spinster.
  • Martha - Oliver's deaf and mute wife who has a serious phobia about blood, in addition to constantly washing her hands and making sure her safe is locked. Dies of fright.
  • The Tingler - Creature that feeds on fear and lives inside the human body. The one removed from Martha's corpse looks like a disgusting centipede.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Films based on crazy scientific premises (not that I critique any of those) are usually something I find easy to poke fun at. However, after watching this one for only a few minutes I had already suspended belief, entirely willing to go with the idea of a parasite living along my spine; a creature capable of killing me unless those very tensions we experience, in moments of terror, are screamed away.

We begin with a humorous introduction by William Castle, he gives us that trademark wry smile while talking about how scared we shall be watching his film. Then the grand showman hints at "Percepto" and members of the audience experiencing the Tingler sensation. Theaters had some seats set up to give the reclining watcher a mild electric shock, sort of a "tingling" along your spine! Imagine it, as a youngster, watching this film on a Saturday afternoon when suddenly a jolt makes you jump in the seat! Popcorn flies everywhere and friends wonder what in the heck your problem is. Who is going to sell the idea of electrocuting the audience these days? Surely, I was born twenty-five years too late.

Warren's duties as a coroner for Death Row bring him into contact with Oliver (whose brother-in-law was fried in the chair) and Martha. From idle conversation the disillusioned husband learns of Warren's belief that a person can die of fear, giving him the perfect chance to dispose of Martha. Assisted by the patented "hand reaching around the door" and a bathtub full of blood (in color!) his plan works and the poor lady is killed by her own terror.

Oddly enough if anyone in this film should want to kill off their spouse, it would be the good doctor. Isabel flounces her infidelity in Warren's face several times. He always catches her stealing kisses in the front yard or notices a strange tie clip left astray, she is lucky he does not take more drastic action.

Something happened a few paragraphs back that was important... ...oh, Martha died! Warren performs a spontaneous autopsy to remove the huge Tingler, its growth unchecked by screaming due to her voiceless nature. The actual removal is performed behind a screen and watching that ghastly shadow being pulled from a woman's lifeless body allows one's imagination to run wild.

Of course the Tingler manages to escape and cause panic in a theater - much like the one the audience was in. Now, as Price urges the audience to "Scream! Scream for your lives!" the projector is turned off and electric current is applied to those lucky patrons. After a few moments the thing is paralyzed by screaming and the interactive part of the film ends. The Tingler can now be returned to the host body (well, corpse) where the characters believe it will naturally expire.

The film keeps you guessing at a few points (hats off for not spelling everything out letter by letter), in fact I am still not certain Warren had nothing to do with the mute lady's death. Wouldn't that be delicious? He used Oliver as an unknowing patsy all along, having guessed the husband's scheme and providing a helping hand with the mysterious injection.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Women faint at the sight of blood.
  • Cats are mighty unfriendly after being trapped and placed into a metal cage.
  • Never commit adultery in your front yard.
  • Don't marry a pathologist if you poisoned your father to gain the inheritance.
  • Reading a wristwatch, while tripping on acid, is not easy.
  • Silent movies do not put women into a romantic mood.
  • Tinglers need love too!
  • Film cases make handy prisons for giant centipedes.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 9 mins - She has a doily on her safe, hehehehe!
  • 12 mins - Oh no, no obsessive-compulsive behavior here...
  • 20 mins - The book's front cover is on the wrong side.
  • 22 mins - Zing! Score one for Warren!
  • 29 mins - Zing number two! Warren is on a role!
  • 34 mins - Get your foot off the coffee table, what sort of manners are those?
  • 48 mins - I think she forgot to pay the electric bill.
  • 60 mins - Maybe Warren should sew the body up first, tearing a huge centipede off the spinal column might leave a mess.
  • 64 mins - Are those strings?
  • 76 mins - Scream! Scream for your lives!


  • Warren: "Try putting an electrode, soaked in saline solution, on your head and another one strapped to your leg, and then slamming two thousand volts between them. If it hurts, let me know."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note tingler1.wav Warren: "I have never seen anyone so terrified, or so unable to release her fear tensions."
Green Music Note tingler2.wav Isabel: "The only way Dave Morris will marry my sister is over my dead body."
Warren: "Unconventional, but not impossible."
Green Music Note tingler3.wav Warren: "Look at that Tingler Dave, it's an ugly and dangerous thing! Ugly because it's the creation of man's fear, which is ugly too. Dangerous because...because a frightened man is dangerous."
Green Music Note tingler4.wav Scream! Scream for your lives!

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Cliptingler1.mpg - 2.5m
That is one mean centipede.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 2 3 [4]
The Tingler
Reply #25. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:03 PM by Eric Christiansen
I saw this at least 4 times when it first came out...I wanted to see the reaction of the patrons when the tingler gets down into the theatre.  It appears critics of this movie seem to miss that the whole movie was shot in black and white EXCEPT FOR:  the part when her husband ran the bath - the water was BLOOD RED! That would scare anyone!
In general horror flicks back in this era never gave away or kept you in suspense almost to the end i.e. we never actually saw the tingler till three quarters through the movie...I would like to see Ron Howard create such a movie where it leaves the patrons in SUSPENCE!
Re: The Tingler
Reply #26. Posted on June 13, 2007, 10:39:16 PM by Robert
This movie did scare me when I was a kid, just the thought of some fat parasite living on your spine and all - but it was in the mid-1960's.  What I always found funny since adolescence, was the scene when the screen goes black and Price tells everyone to "Scream for [their] lives" in the theater.  After about twenty seconds of screaming, Price somehow manages to have his voice heard over the din to proclaim:  "The Tingler has been paralyzed by your screaming; there is no more danger.  We will now resume the showing of the movie."
  Now that scene was obviously to enhance the electrical events in the theaters, but it remains hilarious for 3 reasons to me:
  1) It was still dark, how did he know there was 'no more danger'? (there was obvious danger to come for the projectionist)
  2) Vincent didn't own the theater; it wasn't really his decision to 'resume the showing of the movie'; especially since the projectionist was about to get "tingled".
  3) Who the hell would stay in the theater after that for anything, especially to watch a silent movie?
Re: The Tingler
Reply #27. Posted on June 27, 2009, 07:30:52 AM by Michael O.
Yesterday I had the great luck to see the Tingler in all its Glory in Munichs Movie Museum, with "Percepto" and other Gimmicks on Overdrive. Not only had the Guys the vibration devices installed (one of them under my own seat as I was to find out). During the first LSD scene where Vincent experiences his Nightmare sequence, they used colored lights on the screen and had a plastic skeleton swooning under the ceiling - which propmtly fell off and landed in the midst of the audience for added, if involuntary, fun. And of course there was the highlight, the scene in the movie theatre, with staffers screeming in the pitch-black theatre, fooloing around with flashlights and being attacked by a rubber Tingler - hillarious. Kudos to the Guys at the Festival for going through all this effort to present this outragious flick in all its intended glory.

On a plot related note: The "good" doctor indeed caused Ollies wifes death, since he gave her a huge overdose of LSD, hoping from the beginning this would kill her and this enabling him to harvest a Tingler specimen for his experiments. Ollie doing his spook routine just helped that along. Watching him acting all righteous and morally superior to the poor fool later on, just underlines his questionable morals (and making him a darn complex character for a B-Movie).
Re: The Tingler
Reply #28. Posted on November 02, 2009, 03:35:43 PM by Flu-Bird
That thing looks like a king sized centipide  all those legs
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