Castle Freak is a 1995 American direct-to-video horror film directed by Stuart Gordon. The film stars Jeffrey Combs who portrays John Reilly, an American recovering alcoholic who inherits an Italian castle when a distant relative passes away. John travels to Italy with his estranged wife Susan (Barbara Crampton) and blind daughter Rebecca (Jessica Dollarhide). The three plan to stay at the castle, but unbeknownst to them, a freakish monster locked away in the basement of the castle is about to escape and commit a series of murders. The police place John as the prime suspect, leading him to confront his alcoholism, fight the demon and prove himself innocent.
Castle Freak went into production in 1994 after Gordon noticed art for the film in producer Charles Band's office. Gordon agreed to develop the film on Band's condition that the film take place in a castle, contain a freak, and would be shot on a very low budget. Gordon obliged as he would be able to cast who he wanted in the film and would get final cut. The film was shot in 1994 in a castle owned by Band in Italy, where Gordon had previously shot The Pit and the Pendulum. The film was shot during a period when Full Moon Pictures was having financial issues and was released to little press on home video in November 1995.
Plot[edit | edit source]
After inheriting a 12th-century castle which belonged to a famed Duchess, John Reilly and his family, including his wife Susan and their blind teenage daughter Rebecca, travel to Italy to visit. Susan blames John for the death of their five-year-old son in a drunk driving accident which also cost their daughter her eyesight. On the advice of the estate's executor, the three plan to stay at the castle until they can liquidate the estate. Unbeknownst to them, the Duchess' son, Giorgio Orsino, who was kept imprisoned and tortured by the Duchess in revenge for her husband leaving her, still lives in the dungeons of the castle.
After killing and eating a cat, the disfigured beast escapes by means of breaking off his own thumb to get out of the manacles which bind him. Giorgio begins to roam the castle, prowling around the bedroom of the terrified Rebecca, who can hear, but not see, him. When she claims that there's someone else in the house, John believes her, but Susan does not. John, still wracked with guilt about the death of his son, turns to drinking alcohol and hires a prostitute who doesn't speak English from the nearby town, angering Susan further for cheating. As she leaves the castle, the prostitute is ambushed and horribly mutilated by Giorgio, and the maid discovers the still-living prostitute before she herself is murdered. Susan plans to leave with Rebecca, but the police order them to stay while they investigate the missing prostitute.
John learns that Giorgio is actually his half-brother and that the Duchess was his father's first wife. The Duchess chained Giorgio up and tortured him all of his life because her husband abandoned her and their son for her sister (John's mother) and went to America. However, the police arrest him upon discovering the bodies of the maid and the prostitute. Susan and Rebecca stay the night in the castle, praying together for forgiveness for John. Giorgio kills two policemen, then abducts Rebecca and chains her up in his cell, but Susan rescues her and stabs Giorgio, making him angry. Determined to save his family, John escapes the police station after a fight with a policeman. He comes to his family's rescue, fighting Giorgio on the roof of the castle and sacrificing his own life to pull Giorgio off the roof and kill him as well. Susan tearfully forgives John and they reaffirm their love as he dies. The son of the prostitute is seen with the policeman (who is the boy's father) at John's funeral.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Jeffrey Combs as John Reilly
- Barbara Crampton as Susan Reilly
- Jonathan Fuller as Giorgio (the Freak)
- Jessica Dollarhide as Rebecca Reilly
- Massimo Sarchielli as Giannetti
- Elisabeth Kaza as Agnese
- Luca Zingaretti as Agent Forte
- Helen Stirling as Duchess D'Orsino
- Raffaella Offidani as Sylvana