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Castle Freak 
Written by: on May 5th, 2012

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

DVD released: May 14th, 2012
Approximate running time: 91 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 18
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: 88 Films
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL
Retail Price: £9.70

Synopsis: A family gets more than they bargained for, when they discover that there is something sinister lurking in the castle they inherited.

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.

The DVD:

Note: This review is based on a test disc and may not be representative of the final product.

88 Films presents Castle Freak in a anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. For this release a brand new Hi def transfer has been sourced and the end result is easily the best this film has looked on home video.

This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in English. The audio sounds clean, clear and balanced throughout.

Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (2 minutes 9 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and a vintage ‘Making of’ featurette (9 minutes 27 seconds – 4:3 full frame) and trailers for Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Puppetmaster, The Dead Want Women, Gingerdead Man 2: The Passion of the Crust, Tourist Trap, Killer Eye: Halloween Hunt, The Pit and the Pendulum, Skull Heads, Meridian and Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. Overall Castle Freak gets a strong release from 88 Films.

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