William Castle. Director, Producer, Screenwriter and Actor. When it comes to B – movie horrors, Castle’s name will always be mentioned. He was always considered to be a joke but a genius too. The ‘gimmicks’ he created can only be explained as legen… (wait for it )…..dary! So here is some of his best gimmick’s from his outstanding career.
13 Ghosts (1960)
13 Times The Thrills! 13 Times The Screams! 13 Times The Fun! This was the tagline for the 1960 film. Castle used Illusion – O and created what appeared to be the classic blue/red 3D glasses, but were actually ‘Ghost viewers’. So when audiences wore them, they saw the ghosts and when removed they appeared less visible.
It became a success and was shown on TV many years after its release.
House On Haunted Hill (1959)
Called Emergo, this gimmick occurred during the exciting finale of the film when a skeleton appears from the acid and sets charge for Annabelle. But another skeleton on a wire would hover over the audience with these huge red eyes.
Now as a first time viewer you can imagine how scary it would be. But the film became so popular that some audience members would attack the prop in an attempt to bring it down, some even brought baseball bats. On the plus side, Alfred Hitchcock saw the film and thought ‘yep, I’ll make Psycho now’.
The Tingler (1959)
Castle and the always smooth actor Vincent Price once again collaborated with The Tingler. Castle pondered with different ideas for a while, such as bean bags to tickle people’s legs, a screech when the Tingler was on the prowl and a device to tickle the audiences. But he eventually landed on the idea of Percepto.
Castle would hide buzzers under some cinema seats and it would tingle randomly throughout the film. It had become so popular that audiences would rush in the cinema to find the bugged seats for the full effect.
This gimmick is one of Castle’s most appreciated. He created the ‘Fright Break’, this appeared on screen just before Miriam enters the killer’s house. Castle then very kindly gave audiences 45 seconds to leave the cinema if the horror was too much, he also offered a full refund!
This may all sound nice but if you left you had to stay in the Cowards Corner and be judged by others as they left the cinema. Oh, and during the trailer he threatened to kill anyone who ruined the ending, Castle was always delightful like that.
Mr Sardonicus (1961)
For his next film he created the Punishment Poll. Audiences would be given glow – in – the – dark thumbs and they decided the fate for our main character, be cured or die. Castle would once again appear on screen to explain the options but no audience members wanted to save him.
But, there are a few theories about this gimmick, such as, the vote was rigged by putting speakers in the cinema shouting punish. Another being how Castle never filmed the cured alternative ending which would explain why the voting was rigged. But either way, it’s a great gimmick.
The final legendary gimmick is simple. He created a million dollar life policy for a cockroach called Hercules so yeah.
Castle was a genius with his gimmicks and his passion for entertaining audiences cannot be denied, he did make some B movies without the gimmicks which are pretty good. He even purchased the rights to Rosemary’s Baby, but Paramount Pictures were concerned that he would make it another B movie so he got a cameo instead.
I’ll finish with one of his best quotes:
“We all have a common interest, bigger and more horrible monsters and I'm just the monster to bring them to you”
Thank you Reading!