Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review: Castle Freak (1995)

I'm a huge fan of Stuart Gordon (Robot Jox! From Beyond! Re-Animator!) so when I realized I had missed a couple of items in his filmography, I knew I had to immediately rectify that, and I wasn't disappointed. Castle Freak is a lot of fun just like you'd expect with Jeffrey Combs involved. The titular monster looks fantastic especially when he puts the bloody bed sheet over his body, and right from the get-go, we get treated to a nasty scene of him breaking his own thumb to escape from his chains. Over the course of the movie, there are times when you can sympathize with this creature because of his horribly long, barbaric imprisonment and treatment as well as his stunted childlike intelligence. I could almost see this beast as a metaphor for the dark, repressed side of Combs's character.

The acting was great with Combs definitely stealing the show, and I like how his character is quite flawed. I think the writing is actually very smart with the relationships and how the story unfolds. Gordon does an incredible job the way he shows the monster and doesn't show it. The location is obviously a big character in the film, and they take full advantage of it, roaming down vast corridors, exploring all kinds of different areas, etc. You even get a rooftop confrontation at the end in the rain. It's quite a sight. I really, really loved the ending, which was more emotional than I expected and a real tribute to how well the characters were developed.

Of course, being Gordon, you get a bit of sex then some quite disturbing gore during some potential lovemaking. I think it all works really well, and Stuart Gordon deserves a lot more credit. Sure, it's gruesome at times but the writing, the characters, and the delivery sell everything. This is definitely another horror gem from the '90s right up there with Demon Knight in my opinion.