William Castle knew how to turn a fright-show buck. This king of the b movie gimmick thrilled theater goers with his hokey yet effective over the top cinematic antics. As the wackiness of his films played on screen the slyness of his carnival hucksters mind came to life in the audience. The show goers involvement was crucial during a Castle screening and examples of these ruses accompanied such films as 1959's 'The Tingler' with it's electrified theater seats that literally shocked movie viewers, or The Fright Break from 1961's 'Homicidal' which provided horrified patrons the opportunity to flee the theater, of course the catch to this charade was the humiliation of being handed a Coward’s Certificate on your way out the door. The mind of William Castle was truly unique but it was his involvement in 1968's 'Rosemary's Baby' that will forever endear him to me. 'Rosemary's Baby' is horror at it's best. A 136 minute ode to trusting innocence betrayed, mixed with good old fashioned good vs evil sensibility, that works its way into your psyche to make you think this could be true. In the lexicon of horror greatness this film will always be one of the reasons to love the genre.
Another pusher of the low-budget realm of fear is Roger Corman. This cinematic legend found a place in my heart when I was a mere toddler. It was his 1960 farce of a masterpiece 'The Little Shop of Horrors' that opened my minds eye to the macabre forever. This film has been colorized, bastardized, and turned into one wonderful musical both on stage and screen, but to me it will always be the original Corman production featuring whimpering man-child Seymore Krelboyne played to perfection by Jonathan Haze, sleazy skid row business man Gravis Mushnick embodied by the wonderful Mel Welles, and a Carnivorous Styrofoam Plant voiced by screenwriter Charles B. Griffith screaming feed me that left me forever wanting more thrills and hopefully terror if only of the pretend variety.
Simulated fear is the ultimate release whether it be achieved by diving into the deepest end of the ocean or dropping helplessly through the air toward the unforgiving ground below it still pushes the same thrill buttons in the human subconscious. Luckily my vicarious love of all things fear was given flight at the hands of imagination and some well crafted celluloid lunacy. Your feet stay dry and grounded but your heart pounds just the same.