Full deetz for the William Castle box:
13 Frightened Girls (1963, 89 min.)
Castle launched a worldwide hunt for the prettiest girls from different countries to cast in 13 Frightened Girls!. The stunt helped generate publicity for the film about the thirteen daughters of international diplomats in a Swiss boarding school, who stir up trouble when they mess in the diplomatic affairs of their parents and a Russian spy is discovered murdered.
13 Ghosts (1960, 85 min.)
Castle aggressively promoted the film with floats going up and down Hollywood Blvd. with “ghosts” riding along, holding signs, touting the movie. He named the gimmick created for 13 Ghosts “Illusion-O,” which was a special hand-held piece of cardboard with two transparent colored strips, one red and one blue. If you wanted to see the ghosts in the film, you looked through one, but if you were too frightened, you could look through the other and they weren’t visible. The film promised and delivered “13 Times the Thrills! 13 Times the Chills! 13 Times the Fun!” for the story of a family who inherits a haunted house, but discover a special pair of goggles that allows them to see their ghostly tormentors. The film starred Martin Milner (TV’s “Adam-12”) and Margaret Hamilton (The Wizard of Oz).
* Featurette: “The Magic of Illusion-O”
* Original Theatrical Trailers
* Original “British” trailer introduction for 13 Frightened Girls
* Original “Candy Web” trailer for 13 Frightened Girls
* Original “Candy Web” theatrical opening message from William Castle for 13 Frightened Girls
* Original “Candy Web” theatrical closing message from William Castle for 13 Frightened Girls
* Alternate opening (British) for 13 Frightened Girls
* Alternate opening (Swedish) for 13 Frightened Girls
* Alternate opening (French) for 13 Frightened Girls
* Alternate opening (German) for 13 Frightened Girls
Homicidal (1961, 87 min.)
In Homicidal, the brutal stabbing murder of a justice-of-the-peace sparks an investigation of the dark family secrets in a sleepy small town. Castle promoted the film with a “Fright Break,” a 45-second timer during the film’s climax as the heroine approached a house harboring the sadistic killer. The voiceover advised the audience of the time remaining in which they could leave the theatre and receive a full refund if they were too frightened to see the rest of the film. To ensure filmgoers did not opt for the refund, Castle instituted the “Coward’s Corner.” Patrons were expected to follow yellow footsteps up the theater aisle, bathed in a yellow light and sit in a yellow cardboard booth in the theater lobby. Castle included a nurse offering a blood-pressure test, a recording blaring “Watch the chicken! Watch him shiver in Coward’s Corner,” and required them to sign a yellow “Coward’s Certificate” card stating, “I am a bona fide coward.” Needless to say, very few filmgoers opted out of the screening.
Strait-Jacket (1964, 93 min.)
Advised by his financial backers to eliminate the gimmicks, Castle hired Hollywood’s legendary Joan Crawford (The Women, Our Dancing Daughters) to star as an ax-murderess in this story of a mother, who, after a 20 year stay in an insane asylum for a double murder, visits her estranged daughter and raises suspicions about her odd behavior. At the last minute, Castle had cardboard axes handed out to patrons and sent Crawford on a nation-wide promotional tour of theaters showing the film.
* “Psychette: William Castle and Homicidal”
* “Homicidal Youngstown, Ohio Premiere”
* Featurette: “Battleaxe: The Making of Strait-Jacket”
* Vintage Featurette: “How to Plan a Movie Murder”
* Original Theatrical Trailers
* Joan Crawford Wardrobe Tests
* Joan Crawford Axe Test
* Strait-Jacket TV Spots
Mr. Sardonicus (1961, 89 min.)
In this gothic tale set in 1880 London, a Baron’s face is frozen into a permanently grotesque hideous smile after digging up his father’s grave to retrieve a winning lottery ticket accidently left in his pocket. The gimmick allowed audiences to vote in a “Punishment Poll” during the climax of the film where Castle himself appears on screen to explain to the audience their options. Each member of the audience was given a card with a glow-in-the-dark thumb they could hold either up or down to decide if Mr. Sardonicus would be cured or die at the end of the film. Supposedly, no audience ever offered mercy and the villain was always punished.
The Old Dark House (1963, 86 min.)
Tom Posten (Zotz!) was again cast by Castle in this project about an American who sells cars in England who receives a mysterious invitation from an old, eccentric millionaire to visit his house in which he lives with his twin brother.
* Featurette: “Taking the Punishment Poll"
* Featurette: “Ghost Story: Pilot (The New House)"
* Original Theatrical Trailer
The Tingler (1959, 82 min.)
Legendary horror star Vincent Price (Edward Scissorhands) stars in The Tingler, the terrifying story of a docile creature that lives in the human spinal cord. They become activated by fright and can only be destroyed by screaming. In the film’s finale, one of the creatures kills a mute woman because she was unable to scream and the creature is let loose in a movie theatre. Castle promoted the film with the gimmick of “Percepto,” where audiences would actually feel the sensations of the actors on the screen. To achieve this, theaters wired select seats with tiny motors underneath that would vibrate during key scenes in the movie. The certain members of the audience would get a “tingling” sensation and were encouraged to “Scream - scream for your lives.”
Zotz! (1962, 87 min.)
Tom Posten (TV’s “Newhart”) finds a Zotz coin and discovers its awesome powers. After attempting to share its secret with the US government (where he is brushed off as a lunatic), his discovery captures the interest of foreign agents, who attempt to steal it. To promote the film, Castle provided each filmgoer with a “magic” coin which, unfortunately, did absolutely nothing.
* Featurette: “Scream For Your Lives: William Castle and The Tingler”
* Featurette: “Ghost Story: Graveyard Shift”
* Alternate Drive-In Sequence for The Tingler
* Original “Scream” Sequence for The Tingler
* Original Theatrical Trailers
DISC 5 (BONUS DISC):
* Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story