For a movie with such a dumb title and potentially throwaway concept, Castle Freak is actually a solid shocker in the same way most of Stuart Gordon’s best films are. Like most great horror movies that aren’t interested in simple roller-coaster shocks, it doesn’t try to make you feel good or provide you with an enjoyable experience. It’s an unpleasant little movie, mostly featuring characters who are pretty unlikable and there’s a poisonous, sickening undercurrent that makes the whole thing quite an unsettling watch. It’s one of those horror movies that feels dirty and discoloured, somewhat taboo but still trashy and simple.
It’s about a family – a husband (Gordon regular and general golden horror totem Jeffrey Combs), his wife and their blind daughter – with their fair share of marital problems who move in to a large estate the husband has inherited. Unbeknownst to them, however, there’s a hideous deformed creature chained up in the cellar who has just broken free. When Castle Freak unleashes the violence, it’s pretty full on especially when it all gets strange and sexual. At the heart of it all are some disturbing concepts and ideas (I was reminded of Lucky McKee’s The Woman which came much later of-course but nevertheless shares a lot of ideas with Gordon’s film). The inclusion of the blind daughter heightens the damsel in distress element to something less tired too though is perhaps not used to the full extent of its potential.
With the grand castle setting and exotic locale, as well as the general look and feel of the violence, I found myself thinking of 80s period Argento a lot. Hell, Gordon even uses the “break a thumb to get out of handcuffs” gag from Phenomena which is probably a coincidence but it’s an overlap which only made my own comparisons more concrete.
Another hit from Stuart Gordon for me. Quite a minor work overall but it has enough good to avoid being forgotten.
Watched the 88 films blu-ray