William Castle's Daughter Terry Castle Talks Her Dad, His Movies, His Gimmicks, and His Resurrection!
Dread Central: So, tell me about the Film Forum program. How did that all come together and how were the films picked?
Terry Castle: Bruce Goldstein sent out an email to friends and family about how there was going to be a Return of William Castle program at Film Forum. He’s done the series a couple of times there, but he’s also taken it around the world. I was here when he did it before and it’s amazing! I was over there today. For the first time, I got to see Emergo happen. I finally got to see the skeleton rush across the room. He’s electrifying seats for THE TINGLER. He’s really doing all of the gimmicks. It’s really great fun and quite an honor, quite a tribute.
Dread Central: So, are there plans to bring this program to other theaters in other areas?
Terry Castle: I think for Bruce there are. This is what he would like to do. Yes, absolutely. He’s taken the films to Switzerland and to France, but I think he would love to take it around the country.
Dread Central: What I’d like to do next is to talk a little about the specific nights and get some of your impressions on certain films. The first night at the festival, we have STRAITJACKET and HOMICIDAL.
Terry Castle: HOMICIDAL, to me, is one of my dad’s scariest films. I was a little bit older when that one came out and my father actually had a 16mm print of it and a 16mm projector at home. I remember at midnight he would have me invite my girlfriends over and he would carefully weave the film into the projector. My mom would pull down the little screen and we would watch HOMICIDAL which really was quite scary. That was great. Half of my friends couldn’t watch it. It was really funny because my dad gave my sister, my mom and I a charm from every horror films he made. So, my charm bracelet has axes and daggers and coffins. It’s pretty cool. I was kind of a weird chick. “There’s that girl with that weird bracelet!”
Dread Central: Did that ever hinder you later… like when it came to boys?
Terry Castle: You asked me about my father being a larger than life character… On my very first date, poor guy… He came to the door to get me and my father met him with this big cigar in his mouth and he’s really imposing. The poor guy was literally shaking. “I-I-I’m here to pick up your daughter.” My dad looked right in his eyes and he blew smoke right in his face and said, “I just want you to know… whatever you do to my daughter you’re going to have to do to me.” [laughs] I was home by eight o’clock.
Dread Central: [laughs] As a dad myself… that’s awesome!
Terry Castle: I didn’t think it was that awesome! [laughs] This was also how sweet my dad was… Every Sunday night, we’d go to this restaurant in Beverley Hills called Scandia. It was actually right in West Hollywood. He loved going to Scandia. He’d get the best table… He loved it. We’d sit down and look at the menu and he’d look at me and say, “Terry, when you’re with me, you can order anything off the menu you want, but as soon as you go on a date, you have to order the cheapest thing on the menu.” [laughs] He felt sorry for the poor guy I was going to date. He didn’t want him to have to pay. That’s the type of person he was.
Dread Central: So, the next night at Film Forum is HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL and, a personal favorite if mine, MR. SARDONICUS. I love that movie.
Terry Castle: Isn’t it good? That would be a fun one to remake, actually. Do you want to remake it with me?
Dread Central: Oh, sure! Absolutely!
Terry Castle: So, let me ask you… Did you vote Mercy or No Mercy? Of course, you voted for No Mercy.
Dread Central: What, are you kiddin’? No Mercy, of course! No quarter!
Terry Castle: Yeah! When I see the end of that film though, when I see my father… I just saw that today. They were just playing that trailer at the rehearsal today… Every time, I start crying hysterically. It is so my father. When he is up there with his hat on with his tongue in his cheek and he asks, “What are you gonna vote?” It’s like, “There’s my daddy!” I can’t even tell you what it does to me. It gets me right to my soul.
Dread Central: I first saw MR. SARDONICUS on Bob Wilkins’ CREATURE FEATURES back on KTVU 2 in the Oakland / San Francisco area. What a great movie.
Terry Castle: Ok, I have a question for you… I saw on your web site that you studied mortuary science. Is that really true?
Dread Central: Yes.
Terry Castle: Ok, I want to tell you something and I have a question for you. We were in Honolulu, Hawaii at the Kahala Hilton. My dad is sitting around the pool with a big cigar, his hat on, and he’s reading PLAYBOY. And in that issue was the short story, MR SARDONICUS. They always had really great short stories back then. So, he read it, he optioned it and that’s how that happened. He loved it and knew it had to be a film. And what happened with the ending was that he had the No Mercy ending and the studio said it was way too cruel. They said that he couldn’t have that ending. He had to change the ending. And that’s how my father came up with the idea of, “We’ll have two endings and we’ll let the audience vote.” So, here’s the question… Do you know that you’re friends with William Castle?
Dread Central: Yes, I am… on Facebook, you mean.
Terry Castle: Yes. I just wanted to make sure. Do you believe he’s back from the grave?
Dread Central: Sure! There’s a part of me – the cynic – that suspects that it’s shtick. But then, there’s another part of me that thinks that if he was back, it’d be so awesome! I mean, the prospect of communicating with someone from beyond the grave… would be awesome.
Terry Castle: Wouldn’t it be fun?
Dread Central: In fact, I gotta tell you something… I just got a note from your father. When I opened my email and saw “William Castle has sent you a message” there was a part of me that got very excited.
Terry Castle: It’s wonderful to believe. And that’s something that every twelve year old in 1961 would want as well.