Sunday, 27 April 2014

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

(You may remember that I have already reviewed Castle Freak a fair while ago but it came up as Barbara Crampton's random selection in the FA Cup so I've passed on the reviewing duties to Doccortex for a second opinion - evlkeith.)

My first voyage into the world of the FA Cup of Actors and highly enjoyable it was too. I was fearing the worst as Castle Freak doesn’t exactly look like my cup of tea, but I was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere, story and the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a fairly standard horror offering, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for with straightforwardness and, it has to be said, sleaziness.

Having said that, I thought I was focusing on Jeffrey Combs for the FA Cup, and he is absolutely terrible in this. He’s wooden, joyless and displays such a lack of subtlety that I find it difficult to believe he is actually an actor. (I don't actually think he is - but he's still a quality horror icon - evlkeith.) Luckily enough however, I was supposed to be focusing on Barbara Crampton who strolls through the film with an air of class and confidence that led me to believe if she ever got her hands on the Castle Freak she’d kick hell out of him. She’s way better than this standard of film on this performance. I was going to knock a point off the score because of Combs, but Crampton cancels out his amateurishness.

To cut a short story even shorter…married couple John and Susan with their blind daughter, rock up at a spooky Italian castle that they’ve inherited. Surprise, surprise, a castle freak lives in the castle and all kinds of high jinks ensue when he gets loose. The freak himself is a somewhat pathetic villain in the truest sense of the word, but his makeup is believable and he atones for his slightly melancholic demeanour with a sneakiness and violent nature that he combines brilliantly with a creepy and sleazy side of his personality. At times he’s almost scary, but he certainly lives up to his name.

All in all it’s an entertaining package of spooky atmosphere, decent acting (apart from Combs) and amusing horror antics from the freak. It’s approaching an average viewing experience but not quite, so I’ll award Castle Freak 4.5/10, which sends Barbara into the next round of the FA Cup. It’s a well deserved victory and on this showing I’d look forward to seeing her in some meatier roles.

If you like this you could also try:
Hell's Ground, From Beyond

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