ReFocus: The Films of William Castle. Abstracts due May 15, 2016.

full name / name of organization: 
Murray Leeder

William Castle will likely forever be remembered first as "The Master of Gimmicks" and "The Abominable Showman": the director of exciting gimmick films like Macabre (1958), House on Haunted Hill (1959), The Tingler (1959), 13 Ghosts (1960), Homicidal (1961) and Mr. Sardonicus (1961), and the maestro behind the Emergo, Percepto and Illusion-O, the punishment poll and the life insurance policy against death by fright. But there was much more to his Hollywood career than this cycle, however innovative and indelible it may have been. He directed more than fifty films between 1944 and 1974, and produced both The Lady from Shanghai (1947) and Rosemary's Baby (1968).

I seek abstracts of 100-150 words for ReFocus: The Films of William Castle. Essays may focus on individual films or on themes and topics that pervade his films. Those essays selected will collectively cover the whole range of his career, from a dependable B-movie director for Columbia in the 1940s, to strange mix of comedies, thrillers and children's films he produced in the 1960s, to Shanks (1974), his dreamlike collaboration with Marcel Marceau. In an attempt to cover the full range of career, I intend this volume to be no more than 50% devoted to Castle's gimmicks. Topics might include Castle's influence on directors like Joe Dante and John Waters and the latter-day revival of the Castle "brand" through Dark Castle Pictures and the efforts of his daughter, Terry Castle. Essays might also consider Castle's dalliances into television (Ghost Story/Circle of Fear) and his book Step Right Up! . . . I'm Gonna Scare the Pants Off America, an entertaining showbiz memoir that should be taken with a grain (or a pound) of salt.

ReFocus: The Films of William Castle will be among the scholarly editions published by the University of Edinburgh Press in a new series of anthologies examining overlooked American film directors. Series editors are Robert Singer, Ph.D. and Gary D. Rhodes, Ph.D.

Essays included in the refereed anthology will be of approximately 5,000 to 8,000 words, referenced in Chicago endnote style.

Abstracts of 100-150 words should be submitted by May 15, 2016 and should be sent to

About the editor: Murray Leeder teaches Film Studies in the Department of Communication, Media and Film at the University of Calgary. He is the author of Halloween (Auteur, 2014) and editor of Cinematic Ghosts: Haunting and Spectrality from Silent Cinema to the Digital Era (Bloomsbury, 2015).