Friday, July 20, 2012
Friday Flashback: Castle Freak (1995) -
When something is too good to be true, it usually backfires. Which is exactly what happens here.
When the film starts, an old woman (apparently the famed duchess) is getting some food scraps ready to feed to a mysterious guest in the dungeon. Once she opens the dungeon door she pulls out a cat o' nines whip and proceeds to whip the living hell out of someone (something?) that is chained to the floor, and it's safe to assume it's a regular occurrence. Unfortunately for the duchess, she overdoes it a bit and has a heart attack, dropping dead and leaving our poor soul alone to rot away in the dungeon.
He has brought his wife and blind daughter to live in the Italian castle he has inherited, but Susan is still blaming John for the death of their son in a car accident. Seems John was drunk, and not only did little mini-Reilly get killed, but Rebecca was blinded. John keeps trying to make it up to Susan but she isn't having it and in fact rebuffs his advances in a major way several times in the film.
Almost immediately after arriving John learns both the fate of the duchess and the ghost story surrounding the castle. Tales have been told that the duchess had a son, Giorgio, who must have disappointed her terribly by being a "freak" so she locked him up in the basement dungeon. It's tough to determine why on earth the duchess even kept her monstrous son alive and captive if she was so disgusted by him she never let him see the light of day. Perhaps she knew it would make good ghost story fodder.
The thing is, Giorgio the Freak (Jonathan Fuller) hears the commotion of Rebecca chasing after the cat and from then on he makes it his mission to get out of his restraints and head upstairs to mingle with the new owners.
John is chastised by Susan for letting Rebecca roam the castle alone, and in a weak moment he heads to a nearby bar in town for some local flavor. Not only does he get blindingly (sorry, couldn't help it) drunk, but he latches on to a hooker and brings her home to play. From listening to prior conversations with his wife, it seems like it may not be the first time he's satisfied his urges outside the marital bed.
Unfortunately, John's satisfaction is short-lived and he becomes despondent after having castle-wall sex with said prostitute. When he hears his wife he makes the hooker hide, leaving her vulnerable and looking very much like a delectable victim-in-waiting.
Giorgio is now exploring the castle on his own, thanks to his appetite for his own thumb and a little drool. He sets out to satisfy a few urges of his own. John's hooker is his first victim (human one, that is) and the entire scene is a raunchy, gore-infused frolic that really redefines "going downstairs". After that, Giorgio is insatiable and tears off into the castle to track down Rebecca or any other woman that may be able to assuage his appetite.
As the film comes to its inevitable clichéd ending,we have ridiculous chase scenes and excessive gore, but that should come as no shock to any seasoned horror fan. As Rebecca continues to feel Giorgio's presence nearby she attempts to convey her fears to her parents but they have a rough time believing her, in particular her mother. When the mutilated corpse of the prostitute is found by the cops searching the premises, John can't seem to talk his way out of it and starts to believe his daughter's crazy stories. The cops arrest him and take him away, leaving Susan and Rebecca alone and vulnerable with Giorgio hunting the castle grounds in search of his next victim.
You could do a lot worse than this atmospheric offering from the same people that brought you films like Subspecies and Puppet Master. And anytime there's a scarred naked man-creature running amok through an ancient castle, count me in.