Saturday, 14 May 2011

Review - Castle Freak (1995 - Dir. Stuart Gordon)

A low budget shocker from the director of Re-animator, Stuart Gordon, this loses the comedy of Re-animator and plays it straight. Well fairly, Jeffrey Combs has a couple of theatrical moments which raise a smile. You have to let him off though; he makes any film/tv programme at least watchable and he is 'genrely' ubiquitous. 

He plays John Reilly who, with his wife and blind daughter, inherits a castle in Italy. The film starts with the death of his son, a fairly standard beginning then, that brings on all kinds of emotional problems. Add a Kaspar Hauser like Castle Freak into the mix - kept in a cellar by his mother who repeatedly whips him with a chain adorned with nails - and bring on the fun and games.

The titular Castle Freak is a brilliant creation not shown in his entirety until the end of the film. In the early stages he is shown in the dark or as a shadow. Then he dons a natty bedsheet for a costume that has a hole ripped for one eye to peek through, possibly his best look. Finally, you get to see him in his naked scarred glory and you also find out that he hasn't got any middles. Or tongue. Poor fella. When he's charging around the castle at the end he is genuinely scary.

There is one scene that leaves a nasty taste in the mouth and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. The scene involves Mr Freak biting a prostitute in areas that are generally covered up in polite society. You can possibly justify it by saying that he is only copying what he has seen before, which is backed up by him later whipping the housekeeper. Plus he is an equal opportunites freak. He kills as many men as he does women. I still can't say it was comfortable watching a very harsh cumulo nimbus scene though.

Saying all that makes it sound like a veritable festival of gore. It's not. Virtually none. Strangely it doesn't need it. It's disturbing enough without it. Considering the low budget this film is actually better than it has any right to be. And it contains two fantastic moustaches on two police guards just for a treat.

If you like this you could try:
Re-Animator, Dagon, Necronomicon.


  1. I like it but 6/10 is a little generous, although Barbara Crampton puts in a decent shift. I too liked the freak's fashion sense and generally sneaky demeanour.

    1. Castle Freak's fashion sense is possibly only bettered by the killer in Hell's Ground.