Wil­liam cas­tle at columbia Vol­ume One

Gim­mick! Gim­mick! Gim­mick!

SFX - - Reviews -

The king of stunt cin­ema and his gimmicks are cel­e­brated in this box set, cov­er­ing Wil­liam Cas­tle’s early-’60s out­put.

The Tin­gler (1959) – aka the one where au­di­ences were buzzed by seats rigged with vi­bra­tors – is a non­sen­si­cal chiller star­ring Vin­cent Price as a sci­en­tist who dis­cov­ers that ex­treme states of ter­ror cause a sort of timid rub­ber lob­ster to ges­tate in your spine. Price is great in a less vil­lain­ous role, but the film is ploddy; a solid B-movie, but not as much fun as its rep­u­ta­tion sug­gests.

Far bet­ter is 13 Ghosts (1960), aka the one where au­di­ences were given a “ghost viewer” to see the spooks. A hugely en­ter­tain­ing haunted house flick with a ghostly chef and a lion amid its phan­tom pa­rade, the reg­u­lar splashes of vi­brant red and blue among the black-and-white give it an odd vibe of but­toned-up psychedelia.

Homi­ci­dal (1961) – aka the one that isn’t re­ally in SFX ter­ri­tory – is a bla­tant Hitch­cock knock­off that, nev­er­the­less, proves that Cas­tle could play things straight. It’s an en­ter­tain­ing thriller, though it does have a whiff of trans­pho­bia.

Com­plet­ing the set is the ex­cel­lent Mr Sar­don­icus (1961) – aka the one where the au­di­ence chose the end­ing... sort of. Here a dis­fig­ured Baron forces a doc­tor to per­form fa­cial surgery on him to re­move his ric­tus grin. It works be­cause, for all his cru­elty, Sar­don­icus is as much vic­tim as vil­lain, given a tragic back­story and brought to life with a ter­rific per­for­mance from Guy Rolfe.

While the films are a mixed bag, they all look su­perb, with beau­ti­ful 4K scans. A lav­ish and well­p­re­sented set that gives Cas­tle’s out­put the treat­ment it de­serves.

The films look su­perb, with beau­ti­ful 4K scans

Ex­tras The Tin­gler, Homi­ci­dal and Mr Sar­don­icus all have journo/ pod­caster commentaries. 13 Ghosts misses out, but is pre­sented both in black-and-white and the orig­i­nal “Il­lu­sion-O” ver­sion, and there’s an in­ter­view with ac­tress Pamela Lin­coln. Spine-Tin­gler! The Wil­liam Cas­tle Story (82 min­utes) is an ex­cel­lent doc­u­men­tary with con­tri­bu­tions from John Lan­dis, Roger Cor­man and John Wa­ters; it comes with its own short Mak­ing Of. Else­where, Kim New­man gives a fond ap­pre­ci­a­tion of The Tin­gler while Jonathan Rigby cel­e­brates Mr Sar­don­icus. Plus: trail­ers, mu­sic tracks, in­tros, promo and ar­chive ma­te­rial and book­lets. Will Sal­mon

De­spite the film’s in­fa­mous “pun­ish­ment poll”, in re­al­ity only one end­ing was ever shot for Mr Sar­don­icus. What a swizz!

That dis­guise was fool­ing no­body.

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