From The Grindhouse Cinema Database


"Percepto!" was a gimmick where producer/director William Castle attached electrical "buzzers" to the underside of some seats in theaters where The Tingler was screened.[3] The buzzers were small surplus airplane wing deicing motors left from World War II. The cost of this equipment added $250,000 to the film's budget. It was used predominantly in larger theaters.

During the climax of the film, The Tingler was unleashed in the movie theater, while the audience watched Tol'able David (1921), in which a young woman escapes the unwanted advances of her boyfriend and is targeted. In the real-life theater, a woman screamed and then pretended to faint; she was then taken away in a stretcher, all part of the show arranged by Castle.[1] From the screen, the voice of star Vincent Price mentioned the fainted lady and asked the rest of the audience to remain seated. The film-within-a-film resumed and was interrupted again. The projected film appeared to break as the silhouette of the tingler moved across the projection beam. The image of the film went dark, all lights in the auditorium (except fire exit signs) went off, and Price's voice warned the audience, "Ladies and gentlemen, please do not panic. But scream! Scream for your lives! The tingler is loose in this theater!"[3] This cued the theater projectionist to activate the Percepto! buzzers, giving some audience members an unexpected jolt, followed by a highly visible physical reaction. The voices of scared patrons were heard from the screen, replaced by the voice of Price, who explained that the tingler was paralyzed and the danger was over. At this point, the film resumed its normal format, which was used for its epilogue.[1]

An alternate warning was recorded for drive-in theaters; this warning advised the audience the tingler was loose in the drive-in. Castle's voice was substituted for Price's in this version.[4]

Castle's autobiography, Step Right Up!: I'm Gonna Scare the Pants off America, erroneously stated that "Percepto!" delivered electric shocks to the theater seats.[4]

Two Joe Dante films contain scenes which reference the "Percepto!" gimmick: Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) and Matinee (1993).

In Videohound's Cult Flicks and Trash Pics, "Percepto!" came in at #9 on the "Film Gimmicks" list.


  1. Heffernan (2004), p. 100-104
  2. "The Great Gatsby in 3D: Top 10 Movie Gimmicks". TIME. Jan 12, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
  3. Browne (2001), p. 144
  4. "The Tingler". Retrieved April 27, 2017. Also included is "William Castle's Drive-In Scream! Scene," which is an additional scene created for the drive-in market and features Castle's own voice replacing that of Vincent Price.
  5. Castle (1976)

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