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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 #9. Posted on February 16, 2003, 07:43:54 PM by TomVee
Saw this in the movies when i was around 9 and it scared the beejesus out of me! It does not have the same impact on TV, unfortunately, plus I am a lot older now. A rubber centipede moved by wires simply does not have the same impact as it did when I was 9 and watching it on a huge screen in a dark theater. Price is great, by the way.
The Tingler
Reply #10. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Clement
Loved the movie when I first saw it as a kid back in 1959. I still have the "tingler button" I was given when I entered the theater. It's a small disk about the size of a dime with a red T on it. It is made of glow in the dark plastic and it's supposed to keep the Tingler from getting you. Must work. I haven't been attacted by a tingler ever since.
The Tingler
Reply #11. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Wasyl
I remember seeing this on TV in the late 60's, everyone in my class saw it and talked about how scary it was during recess.  I watched it again with the neighbourhood kids on a summer afternoon, and when shrieking when The Tingler escaped out of it's box.  That's when my mom had enough and came in the room and shut the TV off!
The Tingler
Reply #12. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Mike Ziemba
The other night I was trying to describe this movie to some of my friends when we were dicussing old/bad movies.  They had never seen the movie and so I decided to try to find a copy.  I saw this movie when I was about 8 years old on TV (1966?).  It made quite an impression.  I remember chasing my little brother around with the leftover spine from a fish dinner - I think he felt a bit of the "tingler" that night.  Many years passed before I was able to catch this little jem again - too bad my little brother moved to Florida!
The Tingler
Reply #13. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Zenguy
I saw this film at a matinee when I was a kid and it gave me nightmares for months.  However, it's not the best of the Castle films.  "Mr. Sardonicus" would have to rank as the Number 1 all-time scary Castle film.  
The Tingler
Reply #14. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Fish Biologist
Everybody is wrong :  It's a hellgrammite (scarier than centipede, eh?), aquatic larvae of the Dobson Fly.

Great bait for smallnouth bass!
The Tingler
Reply #15. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Rick
I saw this in a theater when I was about eight. I doubt our theater was rigged with electricity, but sometime into the film my leg fell asleep because I was on the edge of my seat (literally). When I noticed that 'tingling' sensation I started screaming like there was no tomorrow. I freaked out all my friends. It was a riot. I'll never forget it, this was the most scared I've ever been in a movie, bar none. I rate it 10 thumbs up, just because of the fantastic memory of that experience. Rick
The Tingler
Reply #16. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:03 PM by T Diemer

    The tingler is obviously a velvet worm, or periapetus, a phylum of invertibrates that live in Central and South America. The missing link between annelis and arthopods.
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