Review: Castle Freak (DVD)

88 Films brings Stuart Gordon's gothic creature epic Castle Freak to DVD!

  • Director: Stuart Gordon
  • Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Jessica Dollarhide
  • Year: 1995
  • Runtime: 91 Minutes
  • Company: 88 Films
  • Format: DVD
  • Discs: 1
  • Video: 1.85:1 - 16:9 - Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Region: 0 - PAL
  • Released: 5/14/2012

John Reilly (Jeffrey Combs, Re-Animator), his estranged wife Susan (Barbara Crampton, From Beyond) & their blind daughter Rebecca (Jessica Dollarhide) travel to Italy in lieu of learning that they have inherited a countryside castle from a recently deceased distant relative. Upon arrival, they learn of the estates' sordid history concerning a Duchess & her son that supposedly died at a very young age. In between dealing with the repercussions from a fateful incident months prior, the Reilly's accidentally unleash something living below. It's hideous, it's hungry...and it's loose!
Castle Freak is quite different from Gordon's previous films made up to the point of it's release and I love it for that very reason. Instead of humor & sci-fi zaniness that adorned Re-Animator & From Beyond, Castle Freak is much more of an atmospheric gothic antiquity that admirably mixes elements of slasher, eroticism & creature feature together with ease. There's an abundance of trademark nasty moments throughout that adds to the downbeat tone. Gordon's always had the pleasure having the stellar duo that is Jeffrey Combs & the beautiful Barbara Crampton at his disposal, who once again elevate this past genre fare into an superbly acted emotional tale.
Stuart Gordon's Castle Freak hit right at the tail end of the golden era of Full Moon, which by then had switched completely to catering to the video market with a few theatrical exceptions & would be Gordon's last film for the studio he essentially helped define. It's no surprise Castle Freak is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's 'The Outsider' since most of Gordon's filmography has been devoted to classic adaptations of the prolific author's literary works. Castle Freak is no exception and certainly belongs to that heralded oeuvre.

  • Video
88 Films' (essentially the UK branch of Full Moon) new DVD release of Castle Freak sports a brand new 1.85:1 framed, anamorphic widescreen HD transfer that blows previous releases out of the water. Detail is definitely improved upon thanks to the newly struck transfer although colors are slightly muted but keep in mind Castle Freak's cinematography is quite grainy & dark so it's true to it's intended look. It's great to finally have this in widescreen and 88 Films' disc is the best available.
  • Audio
A English Dolby Digital Stereo track is included. Dialogue, Richard Band's always one of a kind score and sound effects come through with no deficiencies.

Bonus Features
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Full Moon Trailers
  • Featurette - "Videozone: Making Of Castle Freak"
A vintage behind the scenes look during filming, filled with interviews from the cast on working with Gordon on a more serious toned film. These Videozone segments are a blast from the past and feel like a video-ized Fangoria!
  • Reversible Sleeve