Monthly Feature

Summer Camp presents: The Films of William Castle


Regular admission prices. Every film will be presented with its original exhibition gimmick!

Described by John Waters as “the greatest showman of our time,” filmmaker William Castle was the innovative purveyor of low-budget, gimmick-driven and highly profitable spooky movies throughout the 1950s and 1960s. A beloved cult figure whose films entertained and inspired a generation of future filmmakers and fans, and whose marketing moxie earned him a degree of begrudging respect from members of Hollywood’s A-list echelon, Castle toiled for years as a B-movie director at Columbia, churning out quickie Western and crime movies (even working as assistant director to Orson Welles on The Lady from Shanghai).

“I’m gonna scare the pants off America.” – William Castle

Striking out on his own as an independent producer/director, Castle hit upon a winning formula — scary movies pitched to a young audience, each with an endearingly goofy scare tactic (sporting an equally goofy name) that doubled as a sure-fire promotional gimmick: audiences at Macabre received a $1,000 Lloyd’s of London insurance policy against “death by fright”; The House on Haunted Hill came equipped with “Emergo” (consisting of a wire-suspended plastic skeleton flying over the audience); viewers watched 13 Ghosts with their “Illusion-O” ghost-spotting cardboard spectacles; while camp classic The Tingler was augmented by Castle’s most infamous gimmick, “Percepto,” in which randomly selected theater seats were wired with vibrating joy buzzers. Castle also became a self-styled Alfred Hitchcock of Horror, appearing on-screen as himself (with his trademark cigar clamped firmly between his teeth) to introduce his films and set up their gimmicks with mordant delight. Mainstream success came in the late 1960s when he produced the blockbuster horror classic, Rosemary’s Baby, which featured the greatest gimmick of all: Satan! Castle’s colorful career was later winningly memorialized in Joe Dante’s 1993 comedy, Matinee, starring John Goodman as a Castle-esque filmmaker in the 1950s. The Loft Cinema is proud to present four of William Castle’s greatest camp classics on the big screen, presented with their original exhibition gimmicks – after all, who doesn’t want to get “tingled” at the movies?

June’s Reel Reads Selection! Purchase a copy of Step Right Up: I’m Gonna Scare The Pants Off America by William Castle during the month of June and receive a special “Loft Reel Reads” discount off the cover price – 20% for Loft members and 10% for the general public. Copies of the book are available at The Loft Cinema and Antigone Books.