Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 7th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1995
Director: Stuart Gordon
Writers: Stuart Gordon, Dennis Paoli
Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Jonathan Fuller, Jessica Dollarhide, Massimo Sarchielli, Elisabeth Kaza, Luca Zingaretti, Helen Stirlingi
BluRay released: July 15th, 2013
Approximate running times: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, DTS-HD Stereo English
BluRay Release: 88 Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £10.31
Castle Freak was co-written and directed by Stuart Gordon, who is best known for his adaptations of the literary work’s of H.P. Lovecraft, most notably the films Re-Animator and From Beyond. The screenplay was adapted from the H.P. Lovecraft story ‘The Outsider’. Key collaborators on Castle Freak include screenwriter Dennis Paoli (The Dentist, Dagon), composer Richard Band (The House on Sorority Row, Puppetmaster) and cinematographer Mario Vulpiani (Dillinger Is Dead, Scandalous Gilda).
Let’s face it, film and short stories / novels are two vastly different mediums. And while most filmmakers set out with the best of intentions. Rarely do they ever capture the essence of what made the literary source material so compelling.
Out of all the authors that I have had the pleasure to read over the years. None have affected me as much as the literary works of H.P. Lovecraft. So naturally I hold any film adaptation to a very high standard and unfortunately the majority of them never come close to realizing the vistas of his nightmarish prose.
This brings us to Castle Freak, which takes inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The Outsider’ and yet the end result is a fairly routine Horror film (albeit a very gruesome one). Along the way there are no great shakes, with the bulk of the film’s ‘surprises’ standing out like a sore thumb. And by the time that this film resolution arrives, there is a feeling of relief that the film is finally over.
Though the kill scenes are sufficiently gory, they are done in such a gruesome way that it ends up weakening their impact. The key to any great Horror film is not to reveal too much and in the case of Castle Freak, excess reigns supreme.
The cast features two faces that those familiar with Stuart Gordon’s other H.P. Lovecraft films should recognize, Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton. They both starred in, Re-Animator and From Beyond. Unfortunately their inclusion in this film is not enough, since performance wise none of the cast leave that strong of an impression. Overall out of Stuart Gordon’s five adaptations of the literary works of H.P. Lovecraft, Castle Freak is easily the oddest duck of the lot.
Castle Freak comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. The image is in very good shape as flesh tones and colors look accurate, black level and contrast levels look consistently good throughout. Grain looks natural and there are no issues with compression. It should be noted that the grain looks thicker during some of the darker moments.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a DTS-HD Stereo mix in English. Both audio mixes presented here are uncompressed audio mixes and they both sound great. Dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Range wise both do a superb job with the ambient aspects of the soundtrack.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (2 minutes 14 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and a vintage ‘Making of’ featurette (9 minutes 26 seconds – 4:3 full frame), a brand new interview with director Stuart Gordon (6 minutes 5 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), Trancers 1.5 preview (1 minute 31 seconds – 1:33:1 full frame), The Pit and the Pendulum trailer (2 minutes 29 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a short film titled ‘The Evil Clergyman’ (28 minutes 59 seconds – 1:33:1 full frame) and a featurette titled ‘The Premier of The Evil Clergyman’ (6 minutes 6 seconds – 1:33:1 full frame). The Stuart Gordon interview and the featuretter for The Evil Clergyman, though both brief they are both valuable glimpses into each of these films. Overall Castle Freak makes its way to Hi def via a solid release from 88 Films.