I believe in a quality you might call “magical ballyhoo” — a tradition of marketing that is whimsical, poetical, prankish, and itself theatrical. In most senses, P.T. Barnum can be considered the inventor of this art form, although, like many great inventors, all he really did was synthesize many existing ideas and practices and present it in new packaging. While we love to go around saying that such hype is the coin of the realm today, few — very few — practice it in the true spirit I am talking about. Typically, it’s more a corporate, unimaginative shoving of something down our throats. True showmen have been surprisingly rare in Hollywood, for example. A few names spring to mind: Cecil B. De Mille, Mike Todd, Orson Welles. But, when it comes to ballyhoo, true ballyhoo, none can hold a candle to low-budget horror genius William Castle. As they do every so often, New York’s holy temple of repertory cinema the Film Forum is doing a retrospective of his works (h’m….that sounds inappropriately pretentious. Let’s just say, “showing a bunch of his movies”). Watching Castle’s films on home video is like what Audrey Hepburn’s character in Charade said of smoking filtered cigarettes, “It’s like drinking coffee through a veil.” You need to be in a theatre, not just because one always needs to be with other screaming, laughing people at such experiences, but because Castle’s films come with hilarious gimmicks, such as “Emergo”, his gambit for The House on Haunted Hill, which consists of a skeleton that rolls toward the audience on a fishing wire, and “Percepto”, the “electric shock” in the seats that accompanies The Tingler. 13 Ghosts provides special “ghost viewers” that allows you to see the titular phantoms (one of which, as I recall, is a headless lion tamer). The very best of these shockers feature one of my favorite actors, the great Vincent Price, at the very peak of his form, relishing every moment of Gothic melodrama like a poisoned bon-bon. 15 of these gems will be shown today through September 6, in double and even triple features. For full details and schedule, go here…if you dare!