Castle Freak (2020), Barbara Crampton, (Horror Movie Review)

Last Updated on December 21, 2021

PLOT: A blind woman inherits a castle. To make sure things are on the up and up, she, along with her boyfriend, head over to Albanian to check it out. There is one problem; a murderous creature living in the walls. The estate is stunning, and a murderous freak is better than a faulty foundation.

LOWDOWN: It’s been a while since I revisited the original Castle Freak, but I have fond memories of its b-movie cheese, in-your-face nudity, and a great cast. I grew up on Charles Band’s Full Moon Empire, and those VHS tapes were always in my video store rotation growing up. So, was I excited for a Castle Freak (WATCH IT HERE) remake? Not really, but as an obscure film from the 90s, It has a better chance to entertain than something already well accepted and loved. I enjoyed the mean, funny, and bloody remake of Puppet Master with Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich being surprisingly entertaining. And since Castle Freak isn’t as well known, I was hoping for a similar or more intense take here. Does this live up to the cheese and charm of the original?

Castle Freak 2020 is more of a reimagining than a remake. We get a woman inheriting a castle and a “freak” in the walls, but to differentiate themselves from the ’95 version, they add a supernatural subplot involving the Necronomicon and some astral projection for good measure. I can get down with this trying to do something different, yet they end up without any of the heart of the original. Storywise it’s pretty cut and dry with Jake Horowitz as the selfish gaslighting boyfriend and Clair Catherine as the blind girl with terrible taste in men. We spend the majority of the runtime with two characters who aren’t fleshed out in any meaningful way and come off irritating and bitchy. I appreciate the nudity and gothic atmosphere, but that can only go so far If the sole duo sounds better off dead than alive.

I’m not saying I was rooting for the freak, but there isn’t a genuinely likable character here. The group of friends that head down to help with the move is as flat as my wallet and just us empty. I guess they were mere cannon fodder, but at least give me one person to root for.  There’s also something off about the dialogue which makes everyone sound clunky. It’s a mix of complaining and cold hard exposition jammed into every character. It’s not a good sign when your film is full of walking corpses, but Castle freak isn’t a character study. Yes, there’s no one to root for, but what does work are the kills.

It’s not all bad as director and effects artist Tate Steinsiek use Shudder and Fangoria’s liberties on the gore front to have fun with. It is mean and doesn’t shy away, with one scene in the bedroom being so f*cking gross it may stick with me long after this. The freak herself (gender swap here) is almost comical in approach, but I appreciate them barely hiding her. We get a lot of reaction shots, along with full-body framing of her wandering around the castle, murdering and masturbating. I always love when they don’t try and hide the monster for most of the film, and luckily, Castle Freak knows its purpose and puts it out front and center.

GORE: We get some neck snaps, stabbings, and much more. The gore is the reason for the season here, and I won’t ruin it for you.

BOTTOM LINE:  Being produced by one of the original leads and by one of the original producers, I was hoping Castle Freak would amount to a cool love-letter to the original. Instead, we get something far cheaper with a straight-to-DVD feel. I dug the gore, along with the kills, and as a so-good-it’s-bad b-movie, this may find a big audience eventually. Things get really f*cking goofy towards the end, which has its moments, and so Castle Freak can be pretty fun If you don’t take it seriously. I can see this being a fun shoot full of cool makeup and blood, but more of a focus on the story could have done wonders. This should have gone the route that Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich did and lean more into the horror-comedy. We should be purposely rooting against the characters instead of unintentionally. I’d recommend a toke and a shot to help you get started because this can be a drag at times if not. Castle Freak 2020 isn’t on the bottom of my list, but it doesn’t do much better.

Castle Freak comes to VOD on December 4th, 2020

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