VINCENTENNIAL: Tonight LAST MAN ON EARTH and THE TINGLER
THE LAST MAN ON EARTH will play at the Vincentennial Vincent Price Film Festival in a glorious 35mm print at 7pm on Friday, May 20th at the Hi-Pointe Theatre with an introduction and post-film discussion by Richard Squires, creator of the Web site The Vincent Price Exhibit (www.vincentpriceexhibit.com). Ticket information can be found HERE
Even though Richard Matheson’s novel I AM LEGEND has been filmed three times (officially), only one of the film versions worked with a script by Matheson himself (though billed as “Logan Swanson”). Originally a Hammer Film property (how great would that have been?), Matheson’s script was eventually sold to Lippert Productions and made cheaply in Italy with an Italian cast and crew, as THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964). For its bankable American star, Vincent Price was cast as the lead. Price was at the peak of his popularity from a series of brilliant Edgar Allan Poe adaptations directed by Roger Corman (the producers wisely emphasized the horrific elements of Matheson’s story with Price’s image in the advertising). But in LAST MAN Price delivers one of his best performances as the only “human” left after a biological plague has decimated the population. Whether he’s dealing with feelings of loneliness and grief, or simply displaying human pettiness, Price imbues the film with a sense of quiet despair. Price appears in nearly every frame of the film, and dominates the story with his great persona. Today, despite its low budget and black & white cinematography, with its remarkable opening scenes of death and desolation, and of Price nightly withstanding the siege of “vampires,” the film is viewed as a highly influential (George Romero cites it as an inspiration) and memorable version of the famous tale.
THE TINGLER will play at the Vincentennial Vincent Price Film at 9:30pm on Friday, May 20th and again at Noon on Saturday May 21st at the Hi-Pointe Theatre. These screenings will feature a version of the gimmickS ‘Emergo’ and ‘Percepto’ perfected by The Film Forum’s Bruce Goldstein and will feature an introduction and post-film discussion by Mr. Goldstein. Ticket information can be found HERE
During the 50′s and 60′s one man was known in Hollywood for gimmicks that made his thrillers unique. That man was producer/director William Castle. He was a master of promotion refer to as ‘ballyhoo’. Castle began his career making low budget ‘B’ pictures for Columbia. In 1958 he left the studio to make MACABRE. Castle came up with a gimmick to attract people to the theatre. Each person who purchased a ticket was issued an insurance policy for $1000 against death by fright. And for good measure he hired ‘nurse’ to patrol the lobby. For his next picture he cast Vincent Price in 1959′s THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. Of course Castle needed a different gimmick, Instead of insurance, he presented this film in ‘Emergo’. At one point in the film a skeleton would swoop over the audience. Columbia was aware of the big box grosses for these inexpensive films and welcomed Castle back . For his return he came up with ‘Percepto’ to hype THE TINGLER. Once again Price starred, this time as Dr. Warren Chapin who’s studying the effects of fear on human beings. He believes a creature he dubs ‘the Tingler’ emerges from the spine at times of extreme terror. Only a scream would suppress it. Also in the cast as his aide David was Daryl Hickman, whose brother Dwayne ( TV’s Dobie Gillis ) would costar with Price in DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINES in 1965. For most of the film Price plays the role of a kindly physician until he conducts a fear experiment on his cheating spouse. Later Price has a wild, crazed scene during an experiment on himself. In order to experience pure fear he injects LSD that David Picked up at a pharmacy! Later he must wrestle with a slithering Tingler that he had extracted from a deceased woman. The highlight of the film is near the finale when that Tingler gets loose in a film showing an old silent film (perhaps inspired by the real Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax in L.A. ). The screen goes blank as the shadow of the creature crawls past while Price implores the audience to scream for their lives. Then ‘Percepto’ begins as patrons in certain wired seats get a slight electric jolt. In 1993 Joe Dante directed MATINEE, a lovely tribute to these popcorn flicks featuring St. Louisian John Goodman as a Castle