William Caste was the King of Gimmicks. He was the P.T. Barnum of the Cinema. He was a marketing genius, and he remains one of my personal creative heroes, as I have mentioned before. Others have sought to emulate him but none has ever been as successful with it. If you’re not an A-list director and your films don’t typically feature A-list actors and you don’t typically have support from the major studios, how do you get people to come see your movies so you can turn a profit? You just have to get creative.
Here is a short list of some of the gimmicks that have been employed by studios and directors to snag the interest of the public. Out of the eight highlighted, three of them involve William Castle films. They could easily have compiled a list of ONLY Castle stunts, but they were, I assume, aiming for diversity. No mention is made, sadly, of the joy buzzers Castle had installed in the seats of theater patrons for one film, or the skeleton mannequins that would drop from theater ceilings around the country. Castle’s “biggest” movie, which he sadly didn’t get to direct (because the studio considered him too much of a “niche” director, he was only allowed to serve as producer) didn’t need gimmicks because it came with its very own curse. The film was ROSEMARY’S BABY. Considering the effects the curse took on some of the principals, though—Director Roman Polanski’s wife was murdered and he later got banned from the country for statutory rape; Castle himself would see his health take a downturn; Mia Farrow would end up married to Woody Allen—it’s probably just as well that he didn’t play a bigger part in the production.