The gimmick: Mid-century director William Castle never met a gimmick he didn’t love. But his crowning achievement might be the one he employed for the 1959 horror flick, The Tingler. The film’s premise is that spine-tingling fear is actually the result of a creature growing at the base of spine — the eponymous Tingler — and it can only be killed by screaming. In the movie, a Tingler escapes from a scientist and heads into a movie theater full of people. To heighten the realism, Castle installed vibrating devices in the seats of unwitting film goers, triggering them at random during this scene.
The result: We wouldn’t want to be one of the hapless audience members at this one. The fun didn’t stop at the Tingler, though. Castle also paid people to scream and faint, only to be carried out on stretchers. He quickly earned a reputation for his gimmicks, and eventually had problems getting theaters to show his films because to put them on was “just too damn complicated.”