Castle Freak DVD Review
Directed by Stuart Gordon
Written by Stuart Gordon, H.P Lovecraft
1995, Region 2, 95 minutes, Rated 18(UK)
DVD released on 14th May 2012
Jeffrey Combs as John Reilly
Barbra Crampton as Susan Reilly
Jessica Dollarhide as Rebecca Reilly
Jonathan Fuller as Giorgio
Massimo Sarchielli as Giannetti
Castle Freak is one of those movies that spent the majority of its shelf life lurking in the dark shadows of some dust-covered video store. There it lay, waiting to be plucked up by some inquisitive teens, intrigued by its foreboding title and creepy-as-hell illustrated cover. Little did you know that before drifting into bargain bin obscurity, this slimy creature-feature was responsible for the countless sleepless nights of those very same horror newbies. Cut to 2012 and Stuart Gordon's visceral 1995 horror has been given the re-issue treatment courtesy of 88 Films but is there still life shuffling around between its cold walls? Time to find out.
Loosely based on H.P Lovecraft's The Outsider, it's clear from the start that director Gordon never intended this to be a pleasant outing. It follows a small family who have inherited an enormous castle in the heart of Italy. Soon, we discover that patriarch Dave is a recovering alcoholic whose boozing past resulted in a car crash that killed his infant son and left his teenage daughter blind. Seeing this as an opportunity to start anew, the trio moves into this decadent, but ancient castle only to find out that they may not be entirely alone. Unbeknown to the castle's new residents, the disfigured son of the building's previous owner still exists deep with its depths.
Bloodied and battered, this squatting terror is eager to escape his depraved cell and introduce himself to his new housemates, whether they want him to or not. Trouble is, having lived a life of imprisonment and relentless beatings, his personal skills leave something to be desired. As Dave's alcoholism starts to catch up with him and people start to mysteriously disappear, pretty soon the local fuzz start pointing their batons straight at this troubled father figure. With his wife loosing faith and the grotty looking freak taking a shine to his sight-depraved daughter, it's up to Dave to find out exactly what's going on in this cursed castle.
Castle Freak blends murder mystery and grotesque horror as easily as it melds American and Euro-shocker filmmaking. With a predominately Italian cast, it has the feel of a foreign frightener albeit with American leads. Speaking of which, they all do their best with the material they have. While occasionally drifting into the realm of over-acting, Dave, played by Jeffrey Combs, creates a truly tortured soul of a father who's struggling to come to terms with some very poor life choices. And while the freak itself is predominately used for gross-out effect, Gordon bothers to give it a conflicted back story, adding a thoughtful dimension to what's essentially a drooling genre tool. While the movie's final moments might feel like a rather clumsy attempt to raise eyebrows, the overall feature is a gruesome gift that can definitely be recommended to those who like their horror gooey and with a little extra bite. Everyone else might want to leave this one on the bottom shelf.
Video and Audio:
Both great, had no problems with either!
The DVD edition doesn't feature much at all. The highlight is an all-too-brief ten minute 'making of' from '95. 88 Films also offers a theatrical trailer and jumbo sizzle reel for its other releases.