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Wherein I Meet “The Tingler” September 24, 2010

Posted by Mary W. Matthews in Random Observations.
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Way back in 1959, Vincent Price starred in a B movie called “The Tingler.” I saw it on TV as a small child, and it scared the bejabbers out of me. Then I saw it again about ten years ago (not to mention this afternoon), and it was hilarious!

Researching fear, Vincent’s mad scientist/coroner discovers that when you’re terrified, a horror monster forms inside your body and grasps your spine. If you can scream, everything is fine; but if something keeps you from screaming, the Tingler will kill you.

Wishing to please Vincent for reasons of his own, an evil man frightens his mute wife to death. Conducting the autopsy, Vincent frees the mute woman’s Tingler. The Tingler grabs Vincent’s arm, but the moment he screams, the Tingler lets go and falls to the floor, where it is easily captured and shut into a heavy metal cage that Vincent had conveniently lying around.

Vincent’s two-timing wife, a classic Bitch from Hell, drugs Vincent and sets the Tingler free, hoping it will kill Vincent for her. It comes close, but Vincent’s daughter enters with a timely scream and Vincent has no trouble recapturing it.

The Tingler next manages to burst out of its heavy metal cage and escape to a crowded movie theater, which is showing an old silent movie, “Tol-able David” — a genuine 1921 classic that was a major box-office success in its own era. Humping itself along without having to move any of its limbs, the Tingler grabs the ankle of a young woman, who screams shrilly. Vincent plunges the theater into pitch-black darkness and announces to the audience that they have nothing to worry about, that the young lady merely “fainted.” Vincent restores the background lighting, and “Tol’able David” magically starts up exactly where it had been interrupted.

The Tingler next attacks the projectionist, ending the movie in favor of the Tingler’s shadow crawling across the screen. “Ladies and gentlemen,” Vincent announces, “please do not panic, but scream, scream for your lives! The Tingler is loose in this theater!” Major screaming ensues. Seconds later, Vincent announces, “The Tinger has been paralyzed by your screaming. There is no more danger.”

Vincent returns the Tingler to the corpse of the mute woman, and then, without bothering to close his original incision, leaves the apartment, with apparently no intention of notifying the police that the man had murdered his wife and was keeping her body in his apartment. The Tingler reanimates the corpse just long enough to scare the evil husband to death.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Vincent’s voiceover concludes the movie, “just a word of warning. If any of you are not convinced that you have a Tingler of your own, the next time you are frightened that you might die, don’t scream.”

The only other item of note is that the mad scientist’s assistant is portrayed by Darryl Hickman, older brother of Dwayne (and just as handsome). A major child star, Darryl apparently has had little success as an adult actor; he played Dobie Gillis’s older brother Davey, had a tiny part in 1976’s “Network,” and appeared four times in four different bit parts in “The Nanny” in the late 1990s.

I’m telling you all this because in late July, a stepladder gave way beneath me and I smashed my left wrist to smithereens, breaking my ulna (the forearm bone closer to the pinky), shattering my radius (the forearm bone closer to the thumb), fracturing my scaphoid (a small bone on top of the radius), and displacing all three, so that even today, about eight weeks later, my left hand no longer looks “centered” on my forearm. The original radiologist’s report was full of scary phrases like “significant subluxation” (bones moved out of their proper position) and “comminuted fracture” (medicalese for “smashed to smithereens”).

Here are the x-rays that were taken this morning, September 24:

I now have a titanium bar strengthening my radius bone; they seem to think my fractured ulna will eventually heal without help. For the rest of my life, MRIs will be rare and difficult, which I don’t actually mind. What I DO somewhat mind is that for the rest of my life, I, a sweet little old lady who LOOKS like an Episcopal Church Woman, will not be able to board an airplane without being treated like Mrs. Osama.

What amuses me, and the whole reason for this post, is that to me, my titanium bar looks like a miniature version of the Tingler.

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