Saturday, November 8, 2014

To William Castle

I spent many a Saturday afternoon at movie matinees. I saw the occasional Gidget film, but most of the matinees featured horror films. I remember The Last Man on Earth (I was traumatized when Vincent Price sobbed and then killed the infected dog) and The Kiss of the Vampire. Then there were the William Castle films: I Saw What You Did and The House on Haunted Hill.

My mother says that I had nightmares after watching The House on Haunted Hill. Funny, I don't remember that. I do remember the stage show when we went to see that film at the Century Theater in Audubon. We didn't get the skeleton moving across the ceiling, but my best friend's sister Jeanette was called up on the stage. I remember her sniffing a "blood-stained" handkerchief; she said it smelled like mercurochrome.

I recently watched a TCM documentary about Castle: Spine Tingler? The William Castle Story. It was a revelation. I had no idea that Castle worked on both The Lady from  Shanghai and Rosemary's Baby.

I enjoyed Castle's B list  films, Besides the classic House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts was fun. He was a great publicist and the master of the gimmick with fun names like emergo. John Goodman portrayed a movie-maker based on Castle in Matinee and captured his spirit and fun. Like many type-cast actors, Castle may not have fulfilled his dreams, but he made an impact on moviegoers who don't appreciate the blood and gore that make up the current movie horror.

I miss you William Castle.

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