Throughout the 1950's and 60's, William Castle produced and directed a series of horror films marked by their outrageous audience participation gimmicks. Castle treated moviegoers to buzzing seats, flying skeletons, luminescent ghosts and life insurance policies — and they loved every minute of it.
Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story is a documentary about the last great American showman. It is a rags to riches tale of a legend of exploitation and master of self-promotion, yet a man privately plagued by a fear of failure and a desperate desire to be respected among his peers.
Starting as a contract director for Columbia Pictures' notorious Harry Cohn, Castle would solidify his place as a brand name in horror in 1958 with Macabre. After mortgaging his house to make the film and haunted by the thought of audience indifference, Castle developed a surefire publicity stunt to attract a crowd.
Every patron would be insured by Lloyd's of London in case of "death by fright." Although nobody collected, audiences flocked to the theaters and Castle knew he had something he could take to the bank.
William Castle became a household name - an immensely popular master of ceremonies, with fan clubs and hoards of adoring fans at each town he visited. But despite his success, Castle craved the respect and accolades given to contemporaries like Alfred Hitchcock.He strived his whole career for a property that would prove his merit as an artist, which would finally come with his production of Rosemary's Baby.
Spine Tingler! traces how an obscure director for hire reinvented himself as a pop-culture icon. From his first job as Bela Lugosi's assistant to butting heads with Robert Evans, this jaw-dropping tale is told through revealing interviews with daughter Terry Castle, John Waters, Joe Dante, Leonard Maltin, Roger Corman, John Badham, Diane Baker, Marcel Marceau, and many more. Plus, there's a chance to catch the incomparable Vincent Price in clips from House on Haunted Hill and The Tingler.
Catch it tonight on Sky Arts 1 (Sky 243/HD 244; Virgin 284) at 4.35am and on Monday (10 January) at 3.30pm