Exploring fright in black-and-white. It's enough to make your spine tingle!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Five Questions with William Castle...From The Grave!

I hope Miss Sardonicus isn't the subject of a punishment poll anytime soon!

You all know of my love for William Castle's films- after all, the name of this blog is inspired by one of them! A couple of posts ago I mentioned a website that I adore: http://www.williamcastle.com/

I've been very excited by the recent renewed interest in Castle's work. Homicidal and Strait-Jacket are both on Netflix Instant and I've already blogged about my experiences at Film Forum's Castle retrospective. When I stumbled upon the William Castle: From the Grave blog I was like a kid on Christmas morning (or in the case of my childhood, a kid on Halloween night!) I couldn't resist asking Mr. Castle a few questions and he kindly took time from his schedule of spookin' and hauntin' to answer them. I've got to admit that the 10-year-old in me gets a little giddy every time I see that I have email from William Castle. And let me tell ya, if there's any filmmaker who's gonna return from the grave....let's just say it ain't gonna be Walt Disney, even if he is cyrogenically frozen! (He's not.) Castle revealed to me that he reads this blog but has been having some trouble with commenting- I guess blogger is a bit biased towards living followers.Without further ado, I give you my very first interview with a dead man!

MS: What would you say is the quintessential William Castle film? In other words, which film would you first recommend to viewers unfamiliar with your work?

WC: In today’s world, I think that your audience would enjoy The Tingler. But if possible see it in a theater or with a bunch of friends. It is really an experience that just keeps on getting better with time. Like old cheese or good cheap wine.

Personally I never tingle on the first date.

MS: Which was your favorite of the gimmicks and why?

WC: I loved Tingling the butts of my audience with the electric shocks exhibitors installed underneath their theater seats during The Tingler, but I have to say I loved “The Fright Break” and the concept of getting your money back if you were to chicken to see the end of the film. Of course, if you were too afraid, you had to stand in the “Coward’s Corner.”

(editor's note: for those who don't know, "The Fright Break" was used during Homicidal. It has one hell of a twist and it's on Netflix Instant so everyone should watch it!)

MS: You've scared so many over the years. I want to know- what scares YOU?

WC: The scariest movie I was lucky enough to see in a theatre as a living man was The Exorcist. But if you really want to know what scares me, it’s being irrelevant-- nobody wanting to see my movies now or then. It scared me so much when I was alive, I created gimmicks, my own inspired insurance policies.

MS: Do you haunt any multiplexes these days? If so, what are your thoughts on present-day horror films and filmmakers? Anything or anyone promising?

WC: I have been dead for such a long time. Recently I got to see An American Werewolf in London. I loved it! I also loved Paranormal Activity for its inspired Ad campaign and it really kept the audience on the edge of their seats. But I really loved Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Layrinth” and “The Orphanage.”

MS: 3D is having a renaissance right now. Do you think it's here to stay? If you do end up directing/producing from the grave (as we hope you do!), how would you utilize the new technology? Along the same lines- how do you think you might use the new various ways of marketing (internet, social networking, iphone, etc) to hype your movie and get people in the mood to be scared?

WC: 3-D has been delightful. I particularly thought that Coraline was inspired and that their use of 3-D was beautifully crafted. I personally think we won’t see too much more of 3-D. It has run its course. Not everything needs to be in 3-D. But certain worlds may be more interesting with this added perspective.

I would love to work with augmented reality. It is my dream. I want to you to be able to see me.

And there you have it- Miss Sardonicus' first interview with a dead man! I intend to keep in touch with Mr. Castle (or "Bill" as he signs his e-mails) so if you have any questions you'd like to pass along, send them my own way. Unless you're too chicken to talk to a dead man....in which case you belong in the "Coward's Corner"!


  1. I'd like to apologize for a couple of grammatical errors in this post- every time I try to edit it or make changes, the whole format gets messed up! Grrr. Don't send the grammar police after me!

  2. Please, the next time you talk to Bill, ask him how Joan Crawford is doing, I'll bet they must be real chummy these days. Oh and tell him that I think he missed his calling as an actor - he was awesome as the "Man near phone-booth" in Rosemary's Baby!