SPHE Press Release: William Castle Film Collection

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  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Eight Classic Shockers from the Legendary Master Showman

    in One Chilling DVD Collection October 20

    WILLIAM CASTLE FILM COLLECTION

    Five-Disc Set Includes Three Films Making Their DVD Debuts: Zotz!,The Old Dark House, and 13 Frightened Girls!
    Plus The Tingler, 13 Ghosts, Homicidal, Mr. Sardonicus,
    and Strait-Jacket

    Bonus Features Include the Award-Winning Documentary
    Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story






    CULVER CITY, CALIF. (August 17, 2009) – The master of ballyhoo who became a brand name in movie horror with his outrageous audience participation gimmicks will be remembered on October 20 when the William Castle Film Collection debuts from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE). The set features eight of the legendary producer/director’s most notable films, including The Tingler(1959), 13 Ghosts (1960), Homicidal (1961), Mr. Sardonicus (1961), and Strait-Jacket (1964). Also included in the collection are Zotz! (1962), The Old Dark House (1963), and 13 Frightened Girls(1963), each making their DVD debuts. The extensive bonus materials include original theatrical openings, alternate sequences, vintage footage and original theatrical trailers, as well as two episodes of the television series, Ghost Story produced by William Castle.
    Also included as a bonus feature, is Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story (2007), the acclaimed documentary on William Castle by director Jeffrey Schwarz that won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2007 AFI Film Festival. The film features archival interviews with John Landis (An American Werewolf in London), John Waters (Pink Flamingos), Budd Boetticher (The Tall T), Roger Corman (The Little Shop of Horrors) and legendary mime Marcel Marceau. The five-discWilliam Castle Film Collection will be available for $80.95 SRP.
    About William Castle
    Intrigued by the circus of Barnum and Bailey, New York stage plays, radio and the movies, William Castle (1914 - 1977) knew what he wanted to do with his life and spent most of his teenage years working on the stage in a number of jobs ranging from set building to acting. He left Broadway for Hollywood at the age of 23, going on to direct his first film (The Chance of a Lifetime) six years later.
    Castle honed his craft over the next decade turning out every manner of film. He also worked as an assistant to director Orson Welles, doing much of the second unit location work for Welles’ noir classicThe Lady from Shanghai, starring Rita Hayworth. Castle had a reputation for getting the work done, and eventually decided to produce and direct his own pictures. The first, Macabre, boasted ad lines like “See it with someone who can carry you home!” and “If it frightens you to death, you’ll be buried free of charge!” The hype worked and Castle became famous for directing films with many gimmicks, which were ambitiously promoted, despite being reasonably low budget B-movies. By the mid-60s, he abandoned the gimmicks and went on to produce the Roman Polanski classic Rosemary’s Baby(1968). His autobiography was entitled “Step Right Up! I’m Gonna Scare the Pants Off America.”
    The Tingler (1959)
    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. It becomes activated by fright and can only be destroyed by screaming. 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 audience would get a “tingling” sensation and were encouraged to “Scream - scream for your lives.” The Tingler has a running time of approximately 82 minutes and is not rated.

    13 Ghosts (1960)
    Castle aggressively promoted this 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!” in 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). 13 Ghosts has a running time of 85 minutes and is not rated.

    Homicidal (1961)
    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. Theaters had a nurse offering a blood-pressure test, a recording blaring “Watch the chicken! Watch him shiver in Coward’s Corner,” and required walkouts 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.Homicidal has a running time of approximately 87 minutes and is not rated.
    Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
    In this gothic tale set in 1880 London, a Baron’s face is frozen into a permanently grotesque 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. Mr. Sardonicus has a running time of approximately 89 minutes and is not rated.
    Zotz! (1962)
    Tom Poston (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. Zotz! has a running time of approximately 87 minutes and is not rated.
    Frightened Girls! (1963)
    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 Frightened Girls! has a running time of 89 minutes and is not rated.
    The Old Dark House (1963)
    Tom Poston (Zotz!) was again cast by Castle in this project about an American car salesman in England who receives a mysterious invitation from an old, eccentric millionaire to visit the house in which he lives with his twin brother. The Old Dark House has a running time of approximately 86 minutes and is not rated.
    Strait-Jacket (1964), 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 killing her husband and his mistress, returns to her home and grown daughter. While trying to re-connect with her daughter, Diane Baker (The Best of Everything, Marnie) the mother’s behavior raises suspicions about whether she is still a dangerously deranged killer. 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. Straight-Jacket has a running time of approximately 93 minutes and is not rated.
    DVD Special Features
    · Commentary with Producer/Director Jeffrey Schwarz and Terry Castle.
    · Disc 1 featuring 13 Frightened Girls/13 Ghosts includes:
    • 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.
    · Disc 2 featuring Homicidal/Strait-Jacket includes:
    • Featurette: “Psychette: William Castle and Homicidal.”
    • Featurette: “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.
    · Disc 3 featuring Old Dark House/Sardonicus includes:
    • Featurette: “Taking the Punishment Poll.”
    • Featurette: “Ghost Story: Pilot (The New House).”
    • Original Theatrical Trailer.
    · Disc 4 featuring The Tingler/Zotz! includes:
    • 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 features the documentary: Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story.
    Visit Sony Home Entertainment on the Web at www.SonyPictures.com
    DVD Catalog # 27255
    UPC Code: 0-43396-27255-2
    Order Date: 09/17/09
    SLP: $80.95
    [FONT= 'Times New Roman'] [/FONT]
     
  2. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    SWEEEET! I've never seen any of these, but they all sound like a fun time.

    Thanks to Sony for picking up the ball that Warner Brothers fumbled for a loss.
     
  3. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    Will 13 Ghosts include the glasses? It would also be great if they included the Punishment Poll cards also. But this is still a buy for me.
     
  4. Marcel H.

    Marcel H. Supporting Actor

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    Will be buying this set too but not in October. Already too many DVDs preordered.
     
  5. KELLYBOY

    KELLYBOY Agent

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    This carries set a hefty price tag and there are so many titles coming out in the fall that I want, e.g. CLAUDETTE COLBERT COLLECTION, RITA HAYWORTH COLLECTION, ESTHER WILLIAMS COLLECTION, 2 Film Noir sets from Sony, NORTH BY NORTHWEST - BR & SNOW WHITE BR, that I may pass on this set unless I can get it for a very low price. I already own STRAIT JACKET & HOMICIDAL.
     
  6. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Hard to justify when I already own half of these movies....couldn't they have done two boxes, one with the previously-released material and another of the not-previously-released movies? These aren't good enough to spend $20 per movie MSRP on.
     
  7. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

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    Mike S. at Sony says all will be the gimmick versions, so I'm sure that will include 13 GHOSTS (which will no doubt have the viewers).
     
  8. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    Great news. What was an I want, is now a I have to have.
     
  9. Bradley-E

    Bradley-E Screenwriter

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    This is really tempting. I'm going so broke with Blu ray buying, but this may be fun to have in my collection. Excellent Halloween viewing.
     
  10. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Can anyone tell me if "The Old Dark House" is the same 'chapter film' involving a disturbing sequence with a cracked ventriloquist and his peculiar wooden dummy in an insane asylum with some genuinely delirious voice dubbing effects and briliant film editing?
     
  11. bgart13

    bgart13 Screenwriter

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    It's the OLD DARK HOUSE that Castle directed, Hammer produced and Tom Poston starred in.
     
  12. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Thanks!

    Looking forward to this collection too!!
     
  13. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    I think the film you are thinking of is DEAD OF NIGHT. The 1945 film is an acclaimed British anthology about a group of visitors to a remote country manor relating their nightmares to one another. An antique mirror reflects an ancient crime, a Christmas party is visited by a ghost, and a ventriloquist's dummy begins taking on a life of its own. It is a real creepy film.
     
  14. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Yes, that's the one!

    My mistake... it aired on TCM earlier this summer.
     
  15. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    It is out on DVD, region 1 I believe
     
  16. JeffMc

    JeffMc Supporting Actor

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    The region 1 disc of the 1945 version of DEAD OF NIGHT (which was paired with QUEEN OF SPADES) has been OOP for quite some time now.
     
  17. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    You are correct. I was lucky to get it a couple of years ago. I see that it has now doubled in value. I still want to keep it. It is funny in that I ordered it because of the great poster it had, after getting it and finding this gem, I have done a lot of research on 40's British Horror. They really made some great films with good story and a lot of atmosphere.

    I have read that THE OLD DARK HOUSE is not one of Castle's better efforts and is mostly ignored by everyone, although I have never seen it, I am a fan of Tom Poston (poor man's Don Knotts) I really am looking forward to finally seeing this.
     
  18. John Morgan

    John Morgan Supporting Actor

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    Regarding DEAD OF NIGHT, I also have the DVD of this. When TCM showed it recently, the transfer was much better in both sound and visual. Luckily I put it on my hard drive and made a DVDr of it. Despite the TCM logo intrusions, I threw out the pressed DVD and inserted the DVDr in the package.

     
  19. JamesSmith

    JamesSmith Screenwriter

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    I liked "the Old Dark House." I'm not big on horror, but this is a scary tale that I could show some family members and when I was little I remember being surprised by who the villain was revealed into being. Today it's kind of obvious.

    I really wish "the Old Dark House"would be released individually, I'd buy some copies for some friends.

    James
     
  20. Stephen PI

    Stephen PI Supporting Actor

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    It is a pity Columbia don't own "Macabre" (Allied Artists), which would have been an essential part of this box-set.
     

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