"Without a doubt, the greatest showman of all time was William Castle.
King of the Gimmicks, William Castle was my idol. His films made me
want to make films. I'm jealous of his work. In fact, I wish I WERE
- John Waters, "Whatever Happened To Showmanship?" American Film,
That last part perhaps excepted, I share director Waters' passion for
the delightful (and frequently shameless) filmography and very persona
of producer/director William Castle entirely. How many other
show business moguls can you name who staged anti-Semitic protests at
their own community theatres, electrified the seats of movie theatres
to literally shock their target audiences (The Tingler), and
yet who also had the artistic right stuff to collaborate with not only
the legendary Orson Welles (The Lady From Shanghai), but
Roman Polanski (Rosemary's Baby) as well?
As Waters argues out in his essay: "Why do today's producers waste
untold millions on media junkets, national television spots, and giant
print ads, when they could come up with something as delightful and
effective as handing out vomit bags at horror films?"
The man who discovered Divine has a point: take a look at the
dreary and generic ad campaign for the big-budget Warner Bros. remake
of Castle's House
On Haunted Hill. Where's the promise of THX-mastered chills
to come? The Death-By-Fright Insurance from Lloyds Of London? The extra-large
"Cowards Corner" to better service the capacity of the contemporary
multiplex? Crikey, there's not even a decent close-up of the film's
star attraction, Geoffrey Rush mugging it up as a literal modern-day
Vincent Price. Rush is buried in the back while the regular gallery
of pretty faces stares out from the silhouette of a hand. Granted, it's
a step up from The Faculty. But the promo art isn't a far step
from that of non-genre releases like Body Shots.