Cracked.com articles don’t ordinarily make me depressed.
This one, however, did. You see, William Castle is one of my heroes. He was a huckster on an epic scale. I’ve mentioned here before (quite a bit) that I am no good at marketing. Castle invented new marketing gimmicks for just about every movie he made, and while some were really terrible, they were all inventive and original, and they worked. People saw his movies just to see what kind of bizarre schlock he would come up with next.
(John Goodman’s character in Joe Dante’s Matinee was clearly based on Castle.)
One of my favorite Castle gimmicks was for Mr. Sardonicus. He gave the audience cards to hold up to indicate Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down–does the villain live or die at the end? It was an interactive movie, with the audience deciding which of the alternate endings would be shown.
Only it wasn’t. I had believed for years that Castle had two endings filmed and used the audience poll to determine which final reel was run in a particular showing, but it turns out that there was only one–the Thumbs Down ending. There’s no evidence that the other ending was ever made.
I don’t know why I find this so depressing. I mean, I know that this guy was a mountebank of the highest order, it really shouldn’t surprise me. “Bloodcorn” didn’t really have blood in it, and the nurses stationed in the lobby for screenings of “The House On Haunted Hill” were most likely not registered RNs. Still, the “Ghost-Viewer” from “13 Ghosts” really worked, in the sense that one of the lenses really would erase certain images from the film.
Gimmicks are one thing. Mr. Sardonicus only having one ending feels like outright fraud, and that’s different. I suppose it’s depends on where you draw the line between playing with the audience and screwing them.
And I suppose we all have to draw that line for ourselves.
Oh, well. In other, completely unrelated news, I have decided that The Worms Of Heaven will have the structure of a Broadway musical. I’m finding it to be a versatile yet restrictive structure, much like a sonnet.