Friday, November 11, 2011

The Outsider: Castle Freak (1995)

Castle Freak (1995)
starring: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton and Jonathan Fuller

Before new-age technology ravaged Full Moon Videos into cheaper-than-aglet Direct-to-video flairs, there was once a time when the company was actually a pretty decent name to know in terms of genre flicks. Not only do they made the most memorable bunch of killer tinies (toys, dolls, puppets, etc.) but they also had made some pretty decent and unfairly unsung slasher films, one being the Lovecraft inspired "Castle Freak".

A family with a troubled past comes to Italy to visit an inherited Medieval Castle from a distant relative who bit the dust after whipping something nearly to death. (oh the irony!) A traumatized father (Reanimator star, Jeffrey Combs) and his wife (Chopping Mall's Barbara Crampton) had grown distant to one another after losing their son to a car crash years ago, an accident that had also blinded their daughter.

As bitter as the family is right now, it's nothing compared to what lurks behind the castle walls; chained to a room, a disfigured monster wails in pain and hunger, soon breaking out of his captivity and finding his way to the surface to terrorize the castle's new occupants. With the family starting to grow more distant and a missing prostitute and housekeeper somehow gets linked to them, is it too late to find the truth behind it all and stop the monster from taking more lives?

From Stuart Gordon, the director behind Dolls and Reanimator, Castle Freak is one of the many lines of his Lovecraft-based horror flicks, though not as nearly faithful to its literary origins as Reanimator or his Masters of Horror episode "Dreams in The Witch-House". In turn however, the film captured a well-twisted take on Lovecraftian fear of dwindling madness among the sane as inner demons continue to torment the family, forcing them to face it all in order to save themselves from a real threat. This mentioned, there's a lot of drama going whenever the film's not serving body parts (which to be frank was kept to a minimal, mainly consisting of bludgeonings and cannibalizing live victims), instead giving the entire film a tragic feeling and a dark atmosphere.

This being said, I am glad that the casts made their roles work at finest performance, with the freak itself also well made in terms of visually fluid and very realistic looking make-up effects as well as being characterized as a tragic villain that serves as a perverse mirror to our family's dark past.

Castle Freak deserved it's cult status and more; depressing, intense and a shocking monster-slasher movie with a lot of black heart, it's a good look back to the good ole' years of simplistic 80s horror despite being a 90s release.

1elderly female suffers a heart attack
1 boy killed in car accident (implied in flashback)
1 cat eaten alive
1 female cannibalized while still alive
1 elderly female bludgeoned to death with chains
1 male strangled with chains
1 male had his face bitten, cannibalized offscreen
2 males falls to their deaths
total: 9

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