Fan-Written ICHF: The Tingler

This ICHF was written by Scatha, who you can find at  I may have made a few touch ups and notes here and there, but the bulk of this entry is their work!


Image borrowed from

I know this movie isn’t actually that scary.  My sister actually laughed at it the first time we saw it, and she was 10.  For some reason, though, it terrified me enough that it’s still on the corner of my mind, and honestly, the concept is sort of frightening!  

The Tingler is, well, it’s a movie.  It’s supposed to be a horror movie so I’ll treat it that way, even though the title monster is about as impressive and expressive as a dollar store dildo.


“That’s uncalled for.” (image provided by Scatha)

I’m going to have to explain this movie a little more than some ICHF entries-mostly because I don’t know if anyone reading this has seen it and also to spare anyone reading this from having to.

The Tingler itself is sort of an interesting concept-a monster that curls up in the base of the spine of every human, who grows stronger as the human host gets frightened.  If the fear builds long enough, the Tingler will crush the spine of the host, and burst out of them to crawl off and feed on the fear of other people. Screaming, or ‘releasing the fear,’ weakens the Tingler so it never really grows large enough to do anything normally.  This limits the effectiveness of the Tingler as a monster, normally, but the movie makes it plenty horrifying, even if the monster isn’t scary itself.

We are treated to scenes of a mute, deaf woman being tormented in her room, unable to leave, almost supernatural things happening to terrify her.  She ends up dying of fright, since she is unable to scream…..

We find out that this lady is Martha Wiggins, the wife of theatre owner Oliver Wiggins, who only ever shows silent films.  His friend, Dr. Warren Chapin, who was the first person to figure out the existence of the Tingler, performs an autopsy. During the autopsy, Chapin removes the Tingler from Martha’s spine, and keeps it in a wire cage, which is the best place to keep anything.  Nothing has ever escaped a wire cage in a horror movie.  He also elects to keep it in his house.

Like an idiot.

This goes wrong almost immediately, of course.  First, his wife tries to use it to murder him, because she’s a massive bitch.  Out of a hosts body, a Tingler is actually incredibly strong-strong enough to kill a grown man easily.  Luckily that fails and he recaptures it, and then, as you do, the doctor tries to kill it.

Turns out, though, you can’t actually kill a Tingler that has left it’s host-you can only neutralize it by returning it to the original host.  We also find out that Oliver is just as big an asshole as Chapins wife-he used his wifes many phobias to terrify her to death so he could steal all of her money and run off into the night.  The Tingler gets loose once more as the two argue, fleeing into the theatre below and frightening the movie goers. Chapin, realizing this, runs into the theatre to instruct everyone to scream.  The Tingler is finally weakened enough to grab and put back into Martha’s body. Chapin leaves to call the cops on Wiggins, but they turn out to not be needed as Martha’s body sits up on her gurney, staring at Oliver as he begins to silently scream.

As a character, the Tingler isn’t the most interesting of monsters.  The film itself was also a bit lackluster, though the use of black and white with only sporadic color, specifically a shot of a blood filled tub in the Martha torture scenes, is honestly very visually interesting.  The concept of the Tingler has silently terrified me for years, though, so it was pretty successful that way. Having something growing in me the more frightened I become until I just drop dead if I can’t scream is sort of an awful thought, even if that monster was portrayed by what frankly looks like a goddamn rubber centipede from the shitty toy shelves at Walmart.

All in all, The Tingler isn’t exactly the best movie, but I dunno about you, after seeing it, I scream if I’m scared.  Just, you know, in case.

Editor’s Note: Fun fact – when this movie was in theaters, they actually rigged seats in the audience to vibrate, making audience members think the Tingler was crawling up their spines.  The audience was then encouraged to “scream for their life.”  We don’t do cool shit like that in movies anymore and it makes me sad.

This entry was posted in Atomic Horror Characters, Creepy Columns, Iconic Characters of Horror Fiction, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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