Tales of the The Discontented Spouse: “The Tingler” (1959)


DOES THIS MEAN THAT THE HONEYMOON IS OVER?: Cuckolded hubby Dr. Warren Chapin (Vincent Price) consults advice from Guns & Ammo as to how to resolve a domestic disagreement with his wife Isabel (Patricia Cutts) in William Castle’s “THE TINGLER”.

            “The Tingler”  (1959)

WARNING: The following review contains plot spoilers.

     If Vincent Price eventually became labelled with the unwelcome moniker of “The Master of Horror”, it might be confidentially stated that he is also the Duke of Domestic Discontent, a somewhat overlooked facet within his filmography, that is put to the test in William Castle’s 1959 bizarre horror film “The Tingler”, Price’s second collaboration in as many years with0000tinglerOS the notorious director and shameless promoter of theatrical gimmickery, after “House on Haunted Hill”; yet another example of  cinema chills generated in an atmosphere of homicidally fractured matrimony, which would extend as a characterizing constant through much of Price’s 60’s horror output, especially his Poe collaborations with Roger Corman.

     In “The Tingler”, Price plays another of his preoccupied husbands ill-matched with a wife to whom there is never the whisper of a clue as to what might have explained a mutual attraction in the first place, except to provide the film with the convenient marital schism which will either encompass the entire conception of the film (as with “House on Haunted Hill”), or act as a handy motivating catalyst (as in “Pit and the Pendulum”). In the case of “The Tingler”, there would appear to be no relevant context of narrative immediacy fueled by the combative Chapins, though there is a curious cumulative effect to the method screenwriter Robb White (who also penned “House on Haunted Hill”) employs by telling the entire story within the intimate circle of three different pairings: the Chapins, the Higgins’-  who, though secondary in prominence, will be the eventual catalysts to every 0000tingler3important action in the film  -and the unattached though romantically involved couple, David (Darryl Hickman), Warren’s lab assistant, and Lucy (Pamela Lincoln), Isabel’s younger sister. With its rather absurd abundance of the murderously inclined pas de deux on display, the script presents a bleakly cynical view of spousal devotion; a perspective made manifest in the script’s narrow but consistent relationship blueprint depicting all of the men as parasitically indebted to their women for financial support, which, in the film’s view, leads to anxieties of emasculation with an inevitable escalation into murderous impulses.

To read the complete review, simply click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews.wordpress.com/chandler-swain-reviews-drive-in-cinema-2/

About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
This entry was posted in Film Reviews, horror, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, vincent price and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Tales of the The Discontented Spouse: “The Tingler” (1959)

  1. beetleypete says:

    Good comprehensive review Chandler. Not one of my favourites, I have to say, and quite a pain to sit through. It might have a certain retro interest these days, but that’s about all.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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