Castle Freak~ 1995, Stuart Gordon

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Who among us has moved into a new place and NOT dreaded the day they might discover that there was, in fact, a castle freak hiding in the shadows, which the apartment management had failed to mention? Discovering that your new home also houses a dangerous, horribly disfigured psychopath who knows the ins and outs of your sweet two bedroom, one bath, party bungalow better than you ever could is a clear, constant danger to us all, and no one movie explores that very real fear better than Stuart Gordon’s super awesome Castle Freak, starring Jeffery Combs and Barbara Crampton.

In Castle Freak, Jeffrey Combs discovers that, well, what do you know; I’m totally royalty, and I just inherited a sweet castle in Italy! Never once expecting a fucking Castle Freak, Combs and his family travel to Europe to explore his newly discovered ancestral home, totally unaware of the damn Castle Freak, who is just waiting to screw up their day and/or straight up kill them. Talk about a case of the Mondays.

The Castle Freak does turn up, of course, and once he does he’s nothing but trouble. Aside from terrorizing Jeffrey Combs and his family, he also does all sorts of bad stuff around town that Combs ends up taking the blame for, and throughout most of the film he manages to do this while flying under the radar, because there is nothing stealthier than a wailing maniac who has lived his entire life confined to a dungeon knowing only brutality and violence.

All told, this is a redemption story. Combs’ character has, in the past, messed up real hard, so hard it makes Jack Torrence look like father of the year, and his family is just barely holding it together at the start of the picture. It’s a testament to the human will that he manages to use this murderous Castle Freak situation as an opportunity to turn it all around, to go that extra mile and win back his family’s trust, to say, “Yeah, I was drunk at the time, and yeah, the car accident killed our son and left our daughter blind- but hey, I got rid of that fucking Castle Freak, didn’t I?!” Way to be, Jeff. Next time you’re having hard time finding your silver lining, think back on Jeffrey Combs’ Castle Freak scenario and remember, if HE could do it, well then, darn it, you can too!

Loosely based (SUPER loosely) on H.P. Lovecraft’s The Outsider, Castle Freak is probably the lesser of Stuart Gordon’s Lovecraft adaptations, but it’s still really great. It’s a very simplistic, straight forward, low budget horror movie, and it’s lots of fun. I have a lot of affection for the film, even if it can’t hold a candle to Re-Animator, From Beyond, or Dagon, and Castle Freak remains a film I enjoy and would happily recommend.


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