Castle Freak (1995 Video)
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In this film, an Italian Duchess delivers a baby, Giorgio Osina and keeps it locked away in a basement cell, hidden from the public. Slowly, this child reaches adolescence and develops sexual appetites which it cannot fulfill naturally, because of its severed penis.
A lot of years pass, the old Duchess dies of old age and John Reilly(Jeffrey Coombs) inherits the castle of the late Duchess. He moves in with his wife Susan(Barbara Crampton) and blind daughter Rebecca(Jessica Dollarhide) unaware of the gruesome creature locked away in the basement. Sometime later, Rebecca stumbles across the basement and finds the door of the cell where Giorgio is kept prisoner. He is aroused and desperately tries to free himself. He breaks off his own thumb to get out of the manacles that bind him to the wall.
Watch the film to find out what happens next.
Verdict: The plot is meager and really not at all good. The special-effects are average as well as the sound-effects. This film doesn't feel like a typical Stuart Gordon film. We see two actors from previous Gordon movies like Jeffrey Coombs and Barbara Crampton. Jeffrey has the bulk of the lines in the movie and though he carries the weight of the whole film on his shoulders, he fails to shine. Barbara has a very small role in the film and doesn't make any impact on the film.
Johnathan Fuller is excellent in his portrayal of the freakish Giorgio. As the title character of the film he plays a depraved individual with unnatural sexual appetites. The gore in the film is graphic, but today's generation will find this film rather tame.
More Stuart Gordon films: Robot Jox(1989), The Pit and the Pendulum(1991), Fortress(1992. Must see film starring Christopher Lambert).
Thanks for reading. Live long and prosper.
The basic premise of the movie is a standard horror trope. A family that's already being torn apart by familial strife due to some past trauma finds themselves in the middle of some supernatural terror. In this case, an alcoholic Combs, his pretty wife and blind daughter move to a castle in Europe that he finds he's inherited, but may already have a resident deep in its' bowels.
The problems start with the look of the film. The viewer can see that Stuart Gordon (the director) has some genuine talent when it comes to creating a shot, with a heavy inspiration from the Hammer era of horror. The movie evokes, images of dark, romantic paintings and has moments of pure shivery chill. It's all ruined, though, by a muddy, dull color palette in the film itself. This thing looks like 80s PBS drama and gives the movie an appearance of being far older than it really is. The film quality ends up spoiling any true beauty.
The problems continue into the acting. I am a huge fan of Combs. His roles in THE FRIGHTENERS and WOULD YOU RATHER are some of my favorite characters in horror. He brings an intellectual insanity to his villains that is fun to watch. On the other hand, he's just given too much room here and too much drama. The same goes for Crampton. Large chunks of the plot in this movie steer away from the terror in the dungeon to focus on the forces tearing the family apart (alcoholism, loss, infidelity). I didn't find either actor to be completely up to the task of pulling off these moments of dramatic dialog. Some of the weight of that error falls on the script itself, too, which is clunky.
What saves the movie from being a disaster is the "monster", the titular freak. He is gradually shown in slow reveals that lead up to the inevitable unmasking and he's a well-done creature design. The makeup looks good on camera, even in spotlight, and he inspires some terror. The movie isn't afraid to shed some blood, either. Buckets full of gore are thrown around, complete with raw, torn up skin effects that look great for low budget horror. WARNING to those who may be sensitive or unwilling to push the envelope some, there is a scene about halfway through the movie that will tarnish your images of oral sex, much like Gordon does in REANIMATOR.
What gives "Castle Freak" an edge over similar horror product is the overwhelming feeling of tragedy. A pall hangs over this whole film; one has to wonder if this family is ever going to be happy again. Giorgio, too, comes with his own desperately unhappy back story. As is the case with many a movie monster, he's quite pitiable as well as hideous. Fuller is excellent in the role. As often as he creeps you out, he earns your sympathies.
While Combs does tend to get his due as a truly talented actor, this viewer would have to point to "Castle Freak" as a solid example of just how good Crampton is as an actress. She's more than just a pretty face. The dramatic tension between John and Susan is palpable. Dollarhide, too, is very good, delivering a sensitive and vulnerable performance. It's somewhat wearying that Susan keeps automatically dismissing Rebeccas' insistence of the other presence in the castle. Stubborn characters can be hard to deal with in this or any other genre.
Director Stuart Gordon and his largely Italian crew create vivid atmosphere. They mostly try to avoid bright colours. In fact, this is one of those instances where it feels like the filmmakers tried to create a slightly colourized version of a black & white movie. The makeup effects by Optic Nerve are impressive, and Richard Bands' music is excellent.
"Castle Freak" definitely deserves a wider audience. It's a serious, somber story where one does get emotionally invested in these characters.
Inspired by, rather than officially based on, the H.P. Lovecraft tale "The Outsider".
Seven out of 10.
If you don't believe me, check out the director's dark fairytale Dolls, his twisted Lovecraft adaptations From Beyond and Dagon (and Re-Animator, of course), and the gritty shocker King of the Ants—all solid films worthy of a place in any self respecting horror fan's DVD collection. But better than any of those, in my humble opinion, is Castle Freak, a splendid Gothic horror that really does deliver the goods in practically every department: it's stylish, atmospheric, sexy, emotionally charged, scary, gory, and more than a little perverse, and even features the classic combo of Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton amongst its cast.
Combs plays John Reilly, who along with his estranged wife Susan (Crampton) and blind daughter Rebecca (played by teen hottie Jessica Dollarhide), has travelled to Europe to take up temporary residence in the 12th century castle that they have recently inherited. As John sets about writing an inventory of the castle's contents, Rebecca explores her new home, unaware that a monstrously deformed freak lies chained up in the dungeon, and he's very, very hungry...
In the hands of a less daring director, this could so have been an instantly forgettable piece of cheesy B-movie hokum, but Gordon's unique, twisted approach elevates it way above your usual direct to DVD fare, and guarantees a few eye-openers along the way. Be honest, how many horror films do you know that offer full frontal shots of their creature's mutilated genitalia? And can you name more than a couple of titles that depict a woman's nipple being bitten clean off? Or have you ever seen Jeffrey Combs bury his face deep in a hooker's crotch before giving her a quick knee-trembler? I'm guessing that you answered 'no' to at least two of those questions.
Gordon's stalwarts Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton are a married couple on permanent edge due to his drinking and a car accident that took their young son away and blinded their daughter. These three inherit a castle in Italy-and sadly something comes with it...something crazily angry, озверели, savage, strong and with a taste for freedom- and flesh.
It's lovely to have this transfered to DVD-especially as the old VHS copy I had had several key scenes of delightful nastiness spliced-how rude! When a film is as intense as a Stuart Gordon one, you know you are not going to get a happy ending but the ride will be a worthy one. There's even a little bit of chit-chat and FX leftover for an extras gift on the disc-this will come up on the menu; there is no mention of it on the back of the DVD case.
This is a good price and a decent movie with a cool monster and a nice wallow in proper horror when it meant so much more than the stanglehold of Бесконечная non-horror slashers, cannibals, A-listers being dead-and- not-knowing-it, remakes, biopics of serial killers, and now stupid Asbo- brat паршивец culture masquerading as terror today!
The film is far more serious affair then the previous Gordon/Combs/Crampton/Lovecraft collaboration. "Re-Animator" and "From Beyond" are certainly great in their own ways but "Castle Freak" is a much richer, deeper film. It's also far scarier. Gordon had previously displayed a strong handle of atmosphere on "Dolls." Here, he graduates to full shadows expert. The final act, where Giorgio stalks mother and daughter throughout the castle, each hiding in deep shadows, is intense and sustained. The blind daughter is an inventive device, as it allows the villain to creep around her undetected several times. The castle is an excellent location, of course, which helps. It's definitely the most frightening film on the director's resume.
It also delivers on the gross-outs. Gordon had, perhaps unfairly, received a reputation for a goremeister following "Re-Animator." There's also more to his films then that but, honestly, "Castle Freak" delivers some nauseating gore effects. A cat being pulled back through a trap door is an early, unnerving moment. Bones crack and flesh rips as a thumb is gnawed off. The most notorious moment involves the titular freak's encounter with a prostitute. In what is probably a homage to extreme Italian filmmakers like Lucio Fulci, deranged Giorgio attempts to recreate an earlier rendezvous. It's a disturbing, memorable moment that skillfully combines twisted gore and protracted thrills. The make-up design for Giorgio is impressively unnerving as well. He looks truly starved and tortured. Odds are this movie will show you far more eunuch bits then you desired to see.
The performances truly anchor the film. Jeffrey Combs frequently trots out his Herbert West personality without acting much while Barbara Crampton is usually confined to indistinct scream queen roles. Combs shows no ego as the alcoholic John. He sweats and cries, frantic, a man at the end of his rope. He is pulled between his frustrated libido, his persisting guilt over his son's death, and his own guilt over refusing to take responsibility for it. It's a career-best performance for Combs. Similarly, Crampton blows the roofs off. She marks a strong figure against Jeffrey, her grief translating as anger, not self-pity. Her own path to forgiveness is also wrought. As the blind Rebecca, Jessica Dollarhide conveys the blindness well, if not the character's panic. It is disappointing that she would disappear from acting after this. Jonathan Fuller no doubt had the most difficult performance, under extensive make-up and without his voice. He makes Giorgio far more then just a hideous villain but a sympathetic being. "Castle Freak" is a world where monsters aren't born, they're made.
For once, the fisticuff endings doesn't feel awkward, a natural evolution of the characters and themes. The final scene, powered by Richard Band's typically excellent, mournful score, conveys a poetic sense of sadness and resolution. "Castle Freak" is fantastic all around, a true hidden gem. If you're a Combs or Gordon fan, you've probably already seen it but I think it's essential viewing for any horror fan.
I mean, don't get me wrong, there's A LOT of cheese here (the final battle is especially ridiculous) but for a film that's almost twenty years old, it certainly doesn't fail to entertain."
The star is Jeffrey Combs. I had seen him in "The Frighteners", "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" and "House on Haunted Hill", but had to read about "Castle Freak" to learn that Stuart Gordon frequently casts him. I enjoyed "Castle Freak", but I don't mind watching these sorts of movies. They're definitely not for everyone.
Its difficult to decide whether CF was the oppressor or the oppressed. An individual who is manacled, castrated and left to rot in a dungeon since childhood, coupled with frequent lashing with a cat-o-nine tails, cannot hope to grow up into a normal human being. And when such a person breaks free, he is bound to create havoc, since his alienation is total, because he has no sense of right or wrong. And so it happened with CF in the film.
As usual, Combs rocks, and the female characters: the prostitute, the mother and the daughter, all display their hot bodies with aplomb. The yelling of the mother got on my nerves after a while, and my only regret is that she was not ripped apart by CF.
A point of confusion: Just how long was CF in the dungeon after his crazed mother died? How did he survive without food and water for so long, till Combs' family arrived? I know that its futile to search for logic in a horror film, but still..
Watchable, at least once, but certainly not a collectible. And yeah, the irritating, selfish mother, most definitely deserved to be messed up a bit by CF..
Combs and Crampton are grieving parents after a car accident leaves their son killed and their daughter blinded. She can't seem to forgive the distraught dad for being intoxicated behind the wheel when it happened, which leaves the plot open for Comb's inevitable redemption. Sooner if not later, the family inherits a castle in Rome, and unfortunately, they also inherit the hideously deformed and tortured man chained up in the basement. After eating a cat, the freak gains enough strength to break his chains and go on a rampage after anyone found in the castle. Its pretty tasteless stuff as the completely naked creature bites a prostitute to death, tears out the throats of policemen and other sorts of gory mayhem, meanwhile the blind daughter and Combs are the only people convinced that there is someone else in the castle.
This is a dingy looking movie that fails to provide mood or ambiance short of trying pretty hard. Combs and Crampton are now pros at what they do considering the material that they're given. The creature is more amusing than scary, but gore fans will be pleased with the overall gruesomeness. Too bad Full Moon Pictures didn't end their stay with a better bad movie, but left audiences in the rain with just plain bad instead.
"Castle Freak" is a legit feature...sorta. It's shot on film, it has real actors and locations, but still suffers the trappings of a low budget...the sets are underwhelming and nothing much happens. And that's one of two major beefs I had with this movie.
1) Nothing much happens, and what does transpire is old news...there's a Thing in the cellar and before we dispatch with it there's a modicum of bloodletting and screaming. Meanwhile we have to sit through a healthy heap of tedium concerning the domestic problems of a small family. Despite the presence of some good B-movie actors these scenes seem superfluous to the action...which we never quite get to, except...
2) When it does happen, it's outrageously repulsive. Not the most offensive thing you've ever seen it's just...this movie is just really icky! Out of nowhere there are a couple of things that transpire that include naughty bits that are just...unpleasant, and not in the fun way. I wasn't so much offended or caught in that so-gross-it's-fun mode as just...well, sorry I had to bear witness to it--and the effects weren't even that well done. It's just...the sight of the Freak and what he does to his victim is just...blecchy! And it's so completely out of touch with the rest of the movie, which is very "USA Up All Night," back when that show was on. It's really weird to see an average little quirky B-film with this kind of grue in it. I'm glad they went there, actually, I just wish the film would've either sustained/accelerated it (as Gordon did so well in "Re-Animator") or not even gone there to begin with.
It's not bad, really it isn't...what's good about it is great--the castle, the final fight, the mysterious Italian village aura and the compelling idea of what exactly the Freak is all about. But the combo of this not being quite bad enough to be really bad or good enough to be really good left me ambivalent, and left me stuck with the sickening images of Freak's mutilated crotch and the prostitute's mutilated boobs. If that's what you want stuck in your head, see this film immediately.
I watched it with a couple of friends last night and we more or less knew what to expect from it but actually this was still a really pleasant surprise for me since Castle Freak have certain elements that really surprised me and that I really liked. This has a simple story, we have that John Reilly (Jeffrey Combs) has inherited a castle that is located in Italy. The castle belonged to a duchess, in the very first sequence of the movie we see her and we see a certain action, we know that someone named Giorgio is also in the castle and John together with his ex-wife and his daughter (Barbara Crampton and Jessica Dollarhide) soon will see Giorgio. So we learn certain things, we learn that now John and his wife doesn't have a good relationship, a terrible chapter in the past marked their lives, John was an alcoholic and one night he was driving, his companions were his daughter and his son, his daughter is now blind and his son died that night. Then there's nothing to say when we see that John's wife is now away from him. John has been sober for a long time (I think he says that for 9 months) but during his stay in Italy he will drink again, he will not return to home. Giorgio is certainly the most important character, some kind of monster that at first was thought to be just part of the imagination of Rebecca (John's blind daughter). "There's someone else in the castle" will repeat Rebecca, his father will think that also however that chapter will be back and as I wrote he will drink again, he will take a prostitute to the castle, that his ex-wife and daughter are there is not an impediment once drunk mainly because the castle is an immense place with hundreds of rooms. Castle Freak has certain scenes that I wasn't expecting and certainly are graphic enough to can make that some persons cover their eyes. Of course Giorgio is the protagonist of those scenes, one that I like is when he loses some of his fingers while trying to be free again but is when he start to kill when those scenes happens. Giorgio is witness when drunken John is doing certain, obvious, things to the Italian prostitute. "I didn't kill her, I fu***d her, Okay?" will say later John to the police and certainly he was saying the truth however he "teach" Giorgio to do those certain things however Giorgio boy did something more. Giorgio is one hell of a disgusting character however is story is a tragic one, he is the son of the duchess and of the father of John who ran away with the sister of the duchess (mother of John). Then the duchess did her "revenge", she made of her son some kind of monster, she forgot that Giorgio was also her son. Now Giorgio can't be, the very last scene is really great.
Then I had my third pleasant time with a Stuart Gordon movie, if you come across with the DVD of Castle Freak or you find it on TV don't think twice, watch it, is amazingly entertaining, watch it with your friends and have a really good time!
This movie had a few things going for it, however: the monster is actually pretty cool, pretty scary-looking. And there is a pretty decent amount of nudity from Raffaella Offidani, herself a star of Italian "erotic" films. The gore, however, leaves much to be desired, as does the acting, even from the experienced Jeffrey Combs.
Other than this I've only seen two other Stuart Gordon films: Re-Animator and From Beyond, both of which were outstanding. But I won't let this little footnote in his career keep me from watching many more of his movies.
Stuart Gordon ("Re-Animator") directs this film with a cast consisting of Jeffrey Combs ("Re-Animator") and Barbra Crampton ("Re-Animator"), produced by Charles Band ("Re-Animator"). Maybe you've caught on, but this is something of a "Re-Animator" reunion... with a few people missing. And a much lower production value (the film quality looks like 1970s issue or something from PBS during British comedy hour). For the most part, this is pretty solid film.
Combs is quite good, and one wonders why he's not given leading roles more often. Crampton is also good, and the blind girl (Jessica Dollarhide, in her only feature film) was remarkable. The freak? I have to say the makeup, effects and even the mannerisms were impressive. There's a scene where a prostitute meets her end... and they really went out of their way to show how horrific the freak could be.
The story isn't fast-paced or action-packed, so if you need to be constantly entertained, this may not be for you. But if you like a good development in your plot, I think you'd appreciate this lost treasure (definitely one of the lesser-seen Gordon horror films). I wasn't paying as close attention as I should have been, because I was half in the bag from drinking Scoresby Scotch (it's the connoisseur's Scotch)... but it kept me feeling pretty good. Thanks, Full Moon Features, for one of your better offerings.
Traveling to Italy, John Reilly, (Jeffrey Combs) and his family, wife Susan, (Barbara Crampton) and daughter Rebecca, (Jessica Dollarhide) learn they have inherited a giant castle in the countryside. Deciding to sell the castle, they spend the night so they can take inventory in the morning. Exploring the castle, they start to find evidence of why they've inherited the castle and who was living in the castle before them. She starts to suspect that someone else is in the castle with them, which they laugh off as being a wish born from her handicap, and their irritation towards each other continues to grow. As they soon fall under a series of strange accidents and disappearances, they come to believe that there is someone inside the house, and are forced to defend themselves in hopes of getting out alive.
The Good News: This one here wasn't that bad, and had some quite good moments to it. The fact that the castle here is an old-school Gothic masterpiece is something to be admired, since there's something about the design and flow of it that just lends itself to a creepy surrounding. There's the grand design of the place with the way that it's constructed and furnished, as well as the fact that it genuinely looks like it hasn't been lived in for a long time due to the amount of dust, cloth over the furniture and much more, lead to an overall great location. So many scenes here play up the creepiness of the castle, from the blind walk into the catacombs following a cat to the walk-through to gather inventory to the great sequence where they're chasing off after strange noises in the distance and are unsure of what they're chasing after, are all excellent examples of the film using the glorious castle suspense in great ways. The design of the creature in here is just as good, as the deranged and deformed features, over-sized teeth and the sharpened claws on the hands and feet are perfect in keeping with a great monster which is imposing and quite creepy. Once the bedspread is utilized manages to improve the design and make it much better. The scene where it escaped, by biting it's finger off to wriggle out of chains, is a great scene and manages to work in a couple brutal moments and is an overall great scene. The opening sequence is just as good, getting the brutal punishment underway that starts it off with a disturbing, cruel manner, setting up the rest of the film perfectly. There's a rather sleazy sex scene in the catacombs which manages to get really nice amounts of nudity into the film, that is well-done and combined with a later sequence with the prostitute inside the lair, comprise some nice amounts of nudity. The last big part of this that works is the really nice gore provided here, since the kills are really bloody. There's one that has the skin from around their hips and legs eaten away, another is bashed in the head repeatedly with a large chain, there's an eyeball eaten out, slashings with broken beer bottles and much more in here that makes for some bloody good times. All of these here make the film rather enjoyable.
The Bad News: This one here only had a few small flaws to it. The fact that the film spends a long portion of time with the family drama and the tensions with each other over their dead child is something that can get irritating. It's something that requires everyone to simply yell at each other for no reason at all, since the flashback actually makes it clear that there's no reason to be like it at all due to it being a complete and total accident, and is just thrown in for the last-second reprieve at the end. That is obvious, and ever since the flashback that supports everything from the one character states, all it does is just aggravate due to it taking up so much time on something that already has a foregone conclusion. The fact that it starts getting to the main action a little late in the film is something else, since this one has the creature loose about twenty minutes in, yet the rampage doesn't really start until close to the end, leaving a large middle section creepy but action-less, and that can be a turn-off to some. Otherwise, this here was a really fun film.
The Final Verdict: A really fun and enjoyable creature feature that has enough good parts about it to be able to entertain with only a few mild flaws to hold it down. Highly recommended for fans of this style of film, fans of the cast or creative practices or just a creepy monster film, while those who can't appreciate them should heed caution.
Rated R: Graphic Violence, Full Nudity, Language and mild animal violence
The film takes place in the homeland of great Horror, namely Bella Italia, where it is excellently set in an eerie old castle. John and Susan Reilly, a troubled married couple, have inherited the castle, and come to Italy with their blind daughter in order to take a look at their inheritance. The Reillys soon have to realize that their marital disputes are not their only trouble in their creepy new home... Gordon's regular star, the great Jeffrey Combs who is without doubt one of the greatest Horror actors of his generation, stars as John Reilly, the family father, and he is great in the role. His fellow "Re-Animator" cast member, the beautiful Barbara Crampton is very good as the wife. Jonathan Fuller is also very good. The film is creepy and highly atmospheric throughout and has many highly intense moments. Castles are always a great setting for Horror films, in my opinion, and this one is particularly eerie. This certainly isn't one of Stuart Gordon's best, but there is no doubt that it outshines most other Horror productions from the mid 90s. As far as I am concerned, "Castle Freak" doesn't reach the brilliance of "Re-Animator", but it is definitely a creepy, highly atmospheric and original, above average example of good 90s Horror. Recommended!