MIFF 2010 review: Spine Tingler!: The William Castle Story

29 Jul

A definitive, if slightly by the numbers, account of the king of gimmicks, the master of schlock and all-round Hollywood nice guy, William Castle. Well paced, featuring great clips and guests ((John Waters etc) and making excellent use of the 3d photo thing (which we first saw in ‘the kid stays in the picture) this is a constantly entertaining doco that is well worth viewing by film buffs and those who have missed out on his kooky films.

It was surprising to hear about the close relationship Castle had with some of the hard hitters from the serious side of film making. He worked closely and in parallel with a diverse range of figures: Orson Welles, Hitchcock, Polanski (he owned the rights to “Rosemary’s baby”, a film he was originally slated to direct). He was never as respected as these people, and, much to his chagrin, only ever rised to the top of the b-grade talent pool.

However, he did b-grade like no one else, with gimmicks and screwy technologies (emergo, percepto) that were so fun it didn’t matter if the movies were any good. Electric seats, death by fright insurance, ghost vision glasses, audience poll deciding ending etc. This is a warm and generous account of a much loved showman.




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