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The William Castle Film Collection (13 Frightened Girls / 13 Ghosts / Homicidal / Strait-Jacket / The Old Dark House / Mr. Sardonicus / The Tingler / Zotz!) (2009)

William Castle  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Directors: William Castle
  • Format: Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: October 20, 2009
  • Run Time: 692 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0024FAG3U
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,476 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Iconic horror director WILLIAM CASTLE created a simple, but winning formula for his films: a little comedy, a lot of scares, a preposterous gimmick, and a clear sense that fright films should be fun. This even meant Castle would, like Hitchcock, appear in his trailers and even the movies themselves. Though his career spanned 35 years and included everything from westerns to crime thrillers, he'll always be remembered for his horror films from the late 50s to the mid-60s. And now Sony presents all eight of his Columbia features - three making their DVD debut, the rest newly-remastered - in one "spook-tac-ular" collection. And as a bonus, it includes the award-winning feature-length documentary, SPINE TINGLER! THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY.

"Eight tales of tongue-in-cheek terror from one of the movies' masters of ballyhoo await classic horror fans in the lavish William Castle Film Collection. The five-disc set represents some of the high points of the producer-director's career at Columbia Pictures, after he'd established himself as a maverick with a taste for eye-popping promotional gimmicks with the Allied Artists hits Macabre (1958) and House on Haunted Hill (1959), neither of which is included here. The set kicks off with the obscure 13 Frightened Girls (1963), a lightweight thriller about espionage at a girls' school, but soon launches into high gear with 13 Ghosts (1960), a terrifically fun chillfest about a family that inherits a haunted mansion and the title gaggle of spooks, which can only be seen (by characters and audience alike) via a special ""Ghost Viewer."" Castle's homages to Psycho--the grisly Homicidal and Strait-Jacket, which stars an unrestrained Joan Crawford in a tale of ax murders penned by Psycho scribe Robert Bloch--are partnered on a second disc, while a third features Castle's team-up with England's Hammer Films for a darkly comic remake of the Boris Karloff classic The Old Dark House (1963) and an adaptation of Ray Russell's grisly Gothic chiller, Mr. Sardonicus (1961). The final double feature pairs one of Castle's most offbeat titles--the fantasy-comedy Zotz! (1962), which, like Old Dark House, stars Tom Poston as a nebbish who discovers a magical coin--with one of his best loved and most outrageous efforts, The Tingler (1959), with Vincent Price as a scientist who discovers a creature that feeds on human fear. While by no means a complete collection of Castle's film output--he continued to direct and produce well into the late '60s and '70s, most notably Rosemary's Baby (1968)--the Film Collection is a fine presentation of some of his most memorable projects, with a few enjoyable oddities thrown in for good measure.

Were the Film Collection simply the movies themselves, it would be a solid addition to any cult collector's treasure vault, but what makes the set truly special is the wealth of extras that accompany the features. Brand-new making-of documentaries are offered for each of the films save Zotz, 13 Frightened Girls, and The Old Dark House; each discusses Castle's elaborate promotional gimmicks in detail, from The Tingler's ""Percepto"" (electrically wired seats) to Sardonicus's ""Punishment Poll"" (cards given to audience members to decide the fate of the title villain). Extensive news clips, photographs, and comments from a host of fans and critics, including David Del Valle, David Skal, Bob Burns, Castle's daughter Terry, Strait-Jacket star Diane Baker, and The Tingler's Darryl Hickman (who seems bemused by the film's favored status), make these featurettes invaluable to Castle completists. The gimmick in 13 Frightened Girls is given plenty of coverage in its extras--its cast of schoolgirls was culled from an international contest, and each was featured in a special intro shot for their respective country--while Strait-Jacket offers Crawford's costume screen test as well as a trial run at lopping off costar George Kennedy's head (!), plus an amusing promo clip in which Castle, Bloch, and their star plot out the perfect murder. There are also two episodes from the Castle-produced supernatural TV anthology Ghost Story (one under its retitle, Circle of Fear), both of which feature the man himself in typically grandiose cameos, as well as original U.S. and some international trailers for each title. And if that's not enough, there's also a fifth disc devoted entirely to the 2007 documentary Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story, which details his life and career of making people scream, via archival footage and a who's who of horror and science fiction, including Joe Dante, John Landis, Roger Corman, Fred Olen Ray, the late Forrest J. Ackerman, and countless others, each weighing in on the joys and thrills of William Castle's feature films. --Paul Gaita"

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Some of my favorite 60's horror films show up in this boxed set due out this fall. William Castle always had a gimmick with his films. Sometimes these had him appearing onscreen himself such as in Mr. Sardonicus, and sometimes it involved theatre tricks such as wiring the seats to deliver a mild shock during the Tingler or issuing life insurance policies during Macabre. Eight of the films Castle made for the then Columbia Pictures are included here.

Homicidal (1961), begins with a woman paying a hotel bellhop to marry her and murdering the justice of the peace who performs the ceremony. She sucessfully flees the scene. She also just happens to work in a large mysterious house where there seem to be a multitude of family secrets, dominated by the late owner's obsession with obtaining a male heir.

Mr. Sardonicus (1961) is the tale of a 19th-century villager who obtained a fortune by retrieving a lottery ticket from the pocket of his dead father's vest pocket. Problem is, dad had been dead for some time and the sight of him shocked Sardonicus into having the same death grin himself. Now he'll stop at nothing to retrieve his normal facial expression.

Zotz! (1962) - A mild-mannered college professor finds an ancient amulet that can make people move in slow motion, and when enemy spies learn about it, a hilarious chase ensues.

The Old Dark House (1963), is Castle's version of the J.B. Priestley novel. It follows an American car salesman to a spooky old Welsh estate where the members of an eccentric family begin to get picked off one by one.

The Tingler has Vincent Price as a scientist looking for a live creature that he thinks is the basis for all fright and also has the power to frighten people to death.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars VISIT A CASTLE FOR HALLOWEEN October 27, 2009
William Castle wasn't simply a film maker. William Castle was a showman. So much so that going to the opening of one of his films was an event as opposed to going to a movie. Special stunts were what Castle was noted for and several of these films featured those. While audiences can't appreciate the shows he put on in theaters these days, they can find enjoyment in his films on DVD with the release of THE WILLIAM CASTLE FILM COLLECTION from Sony.

This collection may not include all of his films but it does include a number of his better pictures as well as several never before released to DVD. And those that have already been released are given a well deserved treatment here by including them in this collection. So what's in it? Eight movies for young and old.

First off is 13 FRIGHTENED GIRLS. The catch here was Castle's search for girls from around the world to portray the members of an all girl boarding school who get involved in spy shenanigans. Light on scares and big on chuckles, the film is a low dose of Castle.

13 GHOSTS tells the story of down on his luck father who inherits a house from a rich uncle, only if he stays there. Too bad that this same uncle made a habit of collecting ghosts, 12 of which can be found there now. And the 13th? Watch to find out. The trick here was a set of glasses with blue and red lenses, one to allow you to see the ghosts, the other to block them out.

HOMICIDAL was Castle's answer to Hitchcock's PSYCHO. The film opens with a brutal murder of a justice of the peace by a young woman who returns home to care for an invalid woman. Hateful to her employer's sister as well as the woman she watches over, what is the secret that is revealed only in the last minutes of the film?
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for films 2 for packaging December 4, 2009
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Retro rules! Well, most of the time, but not when it comes to cheap packaging!This review is not for the films as William Castle is a genius , this is for the packaging.Gave the packaging 2 stars because at least they aren't flippers, yippeeeee! But for the money i shelled out on this set,,,they could have at least been in thin cases! Don't even care that they slapped on 2 movies to a disc,,,but this gatefold cheap plastic glued to backing for a case ,is a retro( normally Warner Bros dvds ) style that must go,,,anyone who owns these knows that unless you are lucky,,,the glue comes undone over the years and then where do you put the dvds? In another case that's where, when it would be so much nicer for them to just DO IT RIGHT!Then they do that crap i really hate where they put one dvd overlapping the other , i mean if this was a $[...] dollar set that would be understandable,,,but this was no bargain.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Special features are excellent November 21, 2009
Verified Purchase
Castle freaks will want to have this collection for obvious reasons, but the best thing about it is the special features, which include a fifth bonus disk with an excellent full-length documentary about Castle's career.

The documentary features interviews with Castle's daughter, as well as Leonard Maltin, John Waters, John Landis, and others who provide intelligent commentary and insight.
It's not surprising to learn that Castle admired Hitchcock, and there was a bit of professional jealousy on Hitchcock's part as Castle became increasingly famous and was ultimately proclaimed the "master" of horror.
It's also interesting learn about the making of _Rosemary's Baby_.

On the other disks, aside from the films, there are documentaries about the making of _The Tingler_ and _Straight Jacket_. There are also a couple episodes of _Ghost Story_, a TV series which Castle produced in the early 70's. One, featuring John Astin as a security guard at a horror movie studio, has a great cameo by Castle as--what else?--a horror film producer. There was always something so great about seeing Csatle himself on the screen. He had such a presence.

I can find only two flaws in this collection. The first--unavoidable, I suppose--is that the films are only the ones made for Columbia. _House on Haunted Hill_ and _Macabre_ are conspicuously missing.

The second flaw is a bit of a soundtrack synchronization problem at the beginning of _Homicidal_. But it only lasts for a couple of minutes.

One thing I realized when watching these films again is that Castle was technically an excellent director. His use of light and shadow, framing of scenes, and camera work is really good--not "B" at all. And Von Dexter's music is perfect--I guess he was Castle's Bernard Hermann.

Overall, this is a must-have for fans of the man who "scared the pants off America."
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
thirteen ghosts is the best one dr zorbas daughter is shaped like a hourglass!
Published 2 months ago by brandon d baur
I have always been a big horror movie fan, but I was familiar with only a couple of William Castle's films...that is until now. Read more
Published 7 months ago by DR SHOCK
5.0 out of 5 stars The Drive In Hitchcock
Some of these flicks are really terrific such as 'Straight Jacket', 'The Tingler', 'Homicidal'. Some of the other titles not so hot.
But still fun. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Paul Barrett
5.0 out of 5 stars Cult classics. Must have.
Need i say more about William Castle. Tacky films but i grew up with these films so it was nice to see them on DVD. He is a lower version of Hitchcock. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Linda
5.0 out of 5 stars Alfred Hitchcock wantta be?
You have to see to believe this collection by William Castle, its awesome. He has his own style. I really was impressed with his stories, direction and characters. Great fun.
Published 14 months ago by Joyce Abajian
4.0 out of 5 stars You will enjoy if you know what kind of movies these were...
William Castle movie did entertain me a lot in the 60's and as a kid we did
enjoy the cheap gimmicks associated with his movies.
Ah those were the cgi... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Andre Villemaire
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Collection
This bundle of movies from William Castle was well worth the money. It was very well done including the packaging. It also came with a lengthy biography of Mr. Castle. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Rich King
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun films but they skimped on the documentary
Plenty of reviews on these films so I will pass on that. My only complaint is about the 5th "Bonus" disc containing the William Castle documentary. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Yankee Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
This came earlier than expected and was a great deal. These are hard to find movies and the quality was great
Published 19 months ago by janelle fitzpatrick
4.0 out of 5 stars A fairly good release at $40
This is the first product review I have done for a Columbia Pictures release.

The packaging has 7 discs in a fold out case. Read more
Published 19 months ago by David S. Graham
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Topic From this Discussion
These are all Columbia titles.

The reason The Night Walker and Lets Kill Uncle are missing is that they were released through Universal and Paramount respectively.

13 Frightened Girls is, I'm told, a light-hearted thriller. Not really of much interest unless a Castle completist.

Zotz! I... Read More
Oct 18, 2009 by Todd Armstrong Jnr |  See all 9 posts
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