CASTLE FREAK (1995) Reviews and overview

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‘Hideous. Hungry. And loose.’

Castle Freak is a 1995 American horror feature film directed by Stuart Gordon from a screenplay co-written with Dennis Paoli, loosely based upon the short story The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft. The Full Moon production stars Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton.

John Vulich provided the special effects makeup for the freak.


After inheriting a 12th-century castle that belonged to a famed Duchess, John Reilly and his family travel to Italy to live.

Unbeknownst to them, the duchess’ son still lives in the dungeons of the castle. He breaks free, and tries to harm John and his family, killing others in the process. John must now save himself and his family from this castle’s unknown inhabitant before the “castle freak” has his way with them…

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“Gordon carefully fleshes out the characters, which are further bolstered by decent performances from Combs and Crampton. Even the minor stock characters such as the housekeeper and the hooker aren’t your usual stereotypes. Elements of The Shining also trickle throughout proceedings; a highly dysfunctional family (alcoholic father, confused mother, incapacitated and vulnerable youngster) moving to a vast and sprawling location only to encounter horror.” Behind the Couch

Castle Freak is the kind of movie only a card-carrying horror fan could love. Comprised of material that breaks down as about one third cruel and depressing, one third stupid and cheap, with a final third of intelligent and well-executed gothic tragedy creeping in around the edges, it will take a sympathetic viewer to find time to appreciate the latter aspect.” Breakfast in the Ruins

“Although not as out-and-out gory as Gordon’s Re-Animator, Castle Freak is all the more sickening for setting its horrors in a far more realistic milieu. There are no talking heads or protruding pineal glands found here, just a sober, brutish, unflinchingly ferocious illustration of mankind’s inherent brutality.” Dave Jay, It Came from the Video Aisle!, Schiffer Books, 2017

” …spectacularly misunderstands “The Outsider,” the story on which it is nominally based. Rather than turning the tables on monstrosity and finding its horror in a cosmic loneliness–as the story does–it’s a stock “nuclear family in peril” film in which the horror elements act as marriage counseling for a couple who are on the rocks. It’s disappointing.” Krell Laboratories

Castle Freak is a solid, even near-classic horror movie. Unlike the gory roller-coaster rides of Re-Animator and From Beyond, it is very serious and very adult. The only major flaw is one unnecessary and detestable scene of brutal violence.” Andrew Migliore and John Strysik, Lurker in the Lobby: A Guide to the Cinema of H. P. Lovecraft

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Cast and characters:

  • Jeffrey Combs … John Reilly
  • Barbara Crampton … Susan Reilly
  • Jonathan Fuller … Giorgio
  • Jessica Dollarhide … Rebecca Reilly
  • Massimo Sarchielli … Giannetti
  • Elisabeth Kaza … Agnese
  • Luca Zingaretti … Forte
  • Helen Stirling … Duchess D’Orsino
  • Alessandro Sebastian Satta … JJ
  • Raffaella Offidani … Sylvana
  • Marco Stefanelli … Benedetti
  • Tunny Piras … Grimaldi
  • Rolando Cortegiani … Tonio
  • Carolyn Purdy-Gordon … The Gelato People (as Carolyn Gordon)
  • Suzanna Gordon … The Gelato People
  • Jillian Gordon … The Gelato People
  • Margaret Gordon … The Gelato People
  • Michael Todd … Guy in Bar (uncredited)


Filming locations:

Giove, Terni, Umbria, Italy

Technical details:

90 minutes  | 95 minutes (unrated)
Audio: Stereo
Aspect ratio: 1.33: 1


Castle Freak was released direct-to-video on 14 November 1995.


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