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The Best Hollywood Hoaxes for April Fool's Day
David Moats , March 31st, 2009 11:08

In honour of April Fool's Day, The Quietus collects the best Hollywood Hoaxes: from Joaquin's beard to Marilyn's letters; from the Hollywood makeup artists who made Bigfoot to Kubrick's moon landing; from electric shocks in the cinema to faux documentaries with Herzog; it's all here.

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William Castle's Gimmicks

King of the horror-film gimmick, William Castle perpetrated numerous hoaxes on the film-going public. He hyped the scare-factor of Macabre by providing life insurance policies from Lloyds to those who might die of fright and hired fake nurses to be on call during the screenings. A timer appeared on screen in Homicidal informing patrons of how much time they had left to claim a full refund if they were spineless cowards. He also pioneered several 'new technologies', such as 'Emergo' (a skeleton on a chord flying above the audience); 'Percepto' (joy buzzers in the seats); and 'Illusion-O' (Ghosts appear in only one lense of the 3D glasses); none of which, unsurprisingly, have really taken off.

Here's John Waters' highly embellished description of Homicidal:

"William Castle simply went nuts. He came up with 'Coward's Corner,' a yellow cardboard booth, manned by a bewildered theater employee in the lobby. When the Fright Break was announced, and you found that you couldn't take it anymore, you had to leave your seat and, in front of the entire audience, follow yellow footsteps up the aisle, bathed in a yellow light. Before you reached Coward's Corner, you crossed yellow lines with the stenciled message: 'Cowards Keep Walking.' You passed a nurse (in a yellow uniform?...I wonder), who would offer a blood-pressure test. All the while a recording was blaring, "'Watch the chicken! Watch him shiver in Coward's Corner'!" As the audience howled, you had to go through one final indignity – at Coward's Corner you were forced to sign a yellow card stating, 'I am a bona fide coward.' Very, very few were masochistic enough to endure this. The one per cent refund dribbled away to a zero percent, and I'm sure that in many cities a plant had to be paid to go through this torture. No wonder theater owners balked at booking a William Castle film. It was all just too damn complicated."

Find out more about William Castle's galloping madness here


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