William Castle

"Step Right Up! I'm Gonna Scare the Pants Off America - the title of William Castle's autobiography sums up his career as a producer and director of sensationally promoted, low-budget exploitation horror films (most of them made before the term 'exploitation' was used for movies)." - The Illustrated Who's Who of Cinema, 1983

William Castle

Director / Producer / Screenwriter
(1914-1977) Born April 24, New York City, New York, USA

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Horror, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Haunted House Film, Gothic Film, Film Noir
Key Collaborators: Edwin Bryant (Editor), Robb White (Screenwriter), Von Dexter (Composer), Richard Dix (Leading Actor), Rudolph C. Flothow (Producer), Joseph Biroc (Cinematographer), Leif Erickson (Leading Character Actor), Bernard Herzbrun (Production Designer), Cary Odell (Production Designer), Vincent Price (Leading Actor), Joan Crawford (Leading Actress), Robert Bloch (Screenwriter)

“Made dozens of second-rate second features from 1943-1957 before producing and directing a sequence of laughter-inducing spooky movies, often accompanied by gimmicks such as skeletons on wires dangling over the audience, seats that give electric shocks, and 'fright breaks' so that cowards could leave.” - Ronald Bergan (A-Z of Movie Directors, 1983)
"Eccentric director of routine low-budget horror films, with a flair for self-promotion… Like latter-day P.T. Barnum, upon whom he modelled himself, Castle lured audiences to his chillers by appearing in their trailers and psyching the audience up to be scared. Most of his films included outrageous gimmicks such as an insurance policy against death by fright for Macabre (1957), skeletons that whistled over the audience in a process called 'Emergo' during critical scenes in House on Haunted Hill and his most audacious stunt, 'Percepto', which literally shocked the audience by wiring selected seats in the theatre with electricity and administering mild jolts during moments in The Tingler (1959). Castle is also noted as the producer of the psychological thriller, Rosemary's Baby (1968)." - The Hollywood.com Guide to Film Directors, 2004
"When only 21, New York-born Castle directed Bela Lugosi in a Broadway production of Dracula. Perhaps that gave him a taste for both showmanship and the impact of shock, At any rate, after 15 years as a director of co-features in Hollywood, only a few of which (When Strangers Marry, Johnny Stool Pigeon, The Saracen Blade, New Orleans Uncensored) are even worthy of note, Castle suddenly found his niche as a kind of Alfred Hitchcock of the 'Z' movie, a carnival barker who invited (literally, as he often appeared in trailers and promotional shorts) his audience to step right up and be scared to death." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Film Directors, 1999)
“After a transitional period as a dialogue director, he began directing on his own in 1943. In the following three decades he turned out numerous low-budget films, showing some flair for crime and action situations. In the late 50s he took on the additional function of producer and subsequently specialised in chillers and horror films, most of which were panned by critics for 'poor taste' but faired handsomely at the box office.” - The Film Encyclopedia, 2012
"Low-budget filmmaker whose promotional artistry generally overshadowed the (limited) merits of the movies themselves." - Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia, 1995
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
When Strangers Marry (1944) ✖︎, The Tingler (1959)
Worth a Look
Hollywood Story (1951) ✖︎, House on Haunted Hill (1958), Mr. Sardonicus (1961), The Night Walker (1964), Strait-Jacket (1964)
Approach with Caution
Fort Ti (1953), 13 Ghosts (1960), Homicidal (1961), I Saw What You Did (1965)
Not Recommended
Shanks (1974)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
✖︎ 1,000 Noir Films Jonathan Rosenbaum Martin Scorsese
    Strait-Jacket
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