Last night, my husband David and I took two of our friends to see House on Haunted Hill at the Loews Landmark Theatre in Jersey City, NJ. Loews has a Halloween themed weekend each year and always puts together a great weekend of classic horror films. Tonight, film goers will be treated to Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The wonderful amazing thing about Loews is that it is run by a volunteer group called "Friends of Loews" (FOL). This group always manages to treat their audience to more than just a viewing of a classic movie. Sometimes, there are special guests at the showings who do Q&A sessions after the film. For House on Haunted Hill, William Castle's grandson Kyle Newell was guest speaker.
|Kyle Newell(center) during the Q&A session|
Kyle Newell is the son of Terry Castle, William Castle's daughter. Terry has spent her life keeping her father's spirit alive by producing remakes of her father's films and publishing books about her famous parent and his work. Terry contacted FOL about the showing of House on Haunted Hill. Terry said she would love to attend but had other commitments. However, her son Kyle is a student at NYU and he could attend the event. After the film, moviegoers were treated to the third generation of the Castle family sharing stories and insights about William Castle Productions.
|Lobby display at Loews|
First of all, the showing of House on Haunted Hill was an event in itself. Loews showed the film in EMERGO! just as it was originally shown. EMERGO! was pulley system set up at theaters showing House on Haunted Hill. At a key moment in the motion picture, as Vincent Price turned a handle on the screen, an illuminated plastic skeleton slid along two trolley wires from the proscenium of the theatre back to the balcony. The skeleton itself came out into the audience. Meanwhile its shadow was onscreen with Price. I have to tell you, I LOVED IT! Give me "cheesy" effects like EMERGO! any day over CGI! The audience responds to a tactile object coming into their space. It creates a shared excitement that CGI can not necessarily inspire.
Before the film began, Kyle was available to speak to attendees. David and I found him to be very personable and genuinely excited to speak to fans of his filmmaker grandfather. He told us that his grandfather had died prior to his birth. Therefore, he did not get to personally know his grandfather. However, his mother has shared her stories and experiences with him through his life. In addition, he loves viewing his grandfather's films and feels the films like House on Haunted Hill reflect his grandfather's personality. His grandfather made movies like House on Haunted Hill so that a family could attend horror films together and have fun together. Castle was also a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, so his later films like Strait Jacket, Homicidal, and Rosemary's Baby are intended for more mature audiences. This man certainly did know how to give the public what they wanted through the years.
|David and Kyle Newell|
After the film was over, Kyle got up on stage and spoke about William Castle. He told the audience about how Vincent Price would cook for the Castle family. His mother Terry recalls be served Turtle Soup that Price made himself. She did not like it, but ate it to be polite. Years last, his mother looked up Price's recipe in a cookbook he wrote. Apparently, the ingredient list was enough to tell her why she disliked the soup!
The audience had a number of questions for Kyle. The most popular question was "Why are the William Castle pages on Twitter and Facebook written in the first person?" Kyle gave a sly smile and basically said his grandfather had "returned." Apparently, William Castle lives and is VERY busy! He has written two novels for young adults Fear Maker: Family Matters and From the Grave: The Prayer. In addition, William Castle productions is in talks to make The Tingler into a Broadway musical.
Is William Castle really alive? YES! His family is determined to keep bringing new generations books, films, and other projects that bear Castle's unique style and spirit of entertainment. Apparently, Terry is always open to speaking with filmmakers and producers who wish to remake stories made famous by her father. Therefore, as long as his work is preserved and enjoyed, William Castle lives!
HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL: A William Castle Annotated Screamplay. Kyle was kind enough to sign our book. It truly was a great evening for two film buffs like my husband and I!
Here are two links you may enjoy if you liked this article or want to learn more about William Castle.
UPDATE: David and I did not realize we were photographed at this event. You can see the photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/11273693@N00/6292405820