Whoa! Two Jeffrey Combs movies in a row?! It’s almost like I planned it that way! Spoiler Alert: I didn’t. If some of you guys remember posts that I made way back when my blog first started, I mentioned how I had found a book published by Fangoria that was filled with underrated horror movies. Some of those movies weren’t bad, but there were a lot of stinkers, and Castle Freak was one of the movies that the book listed. I think I quickly added it to my Netflix queue but at the time, it wasn’t available! What the fuck?! Luckily, it eventually made its way up the charts and into my house. What did I do then? I watched it! What a novel idea!
If a guy like Jeffrey Combs could marry a Barbara Crampton, there’s still hope for a chump like me!
After his estranged mother dies, John Reilly (Jeffrey Combs) with his wife Susan (Barbara Crampton) and blind daughter Rebecca (Jessica Dollarhide) move out to Italy and into the castle that was left to him. In addition to adjusting to life in a new country and in a giant castle, John and Susan are still dealing with the grief caused by John getting into a drunk driving accident that left Rebecca blind, killed their 5 year old son, and left John almost without a scratch. Through exploring the castle, Rebecca accidentally excites the titular “Freak”, who has been chained up in a basement for quite some time. John and Susan’s marital difficulties result in John turning to the bottle, as well as a prostitute. Once John passes out, the Freak finds the prostitute and has his violent, perverse way with her, and when no one hears from her, the police investigate and interrogate John. John starts putting together some of the weird things he’s been discovering around the castle and realizes that the Freak is actually his brother, and it was his mother that chained him up and tortured him all of his life because her husband abandoned her for America. John is able to escape the police and get back to the castle just in time to get in the way of the Freak attacking his wife and daughter, and as a last resort, chains himself to the Freak and jumps off the roof, killing them both. As John dies, his wife finally forgives him for the terrible things he’s done. Yay!
That’s a terrible ghost costume, Freak.
Would you believe that a movie starring Jeffrey Combs, written/directed by Stuart Gordon with influences from H.P. Lovecraft would have weird, violent, perverse content?! GET OUTTA HERE! Stuart Gordon has really been able to master the ability to take a concept that isn’t necessarily all that scary and make it just weird, surreal, and bizarre enough to make you feel uncomfortable. It should come as no surprise that Gordon found a way to make this movie uncomfortable as well. As if seeing Jeffrey Combs engaging in sexual activity with an Italian prostitute wasn’t weirdly bonerific as it was, you also got to see the Freak kissing her boobs and biting off her nipple, her grabbing for his somewhat disfigured penis, and eventually the Freak going down on her dead body. One the one hand, seeing Gordon really go for it with this grotesque freak with all the sex stuff was a bold move, but on the other hand, it was just kind of unsettling in the sense that you thought maybe Gordon was getting off on it. It might have been the quality of the DVD that caused this, but I also couldn’t really tell what was going on with the Freak’s dick. Whether he was castrated, disfigured, or totally intact I didn’t really know what the fuck was going on. The Freak seemed to be a huge pervert, and I don’t think I really ever caught on to why he was raping this prostitute, as well as trying to rape Rebecca, so it all just seemed to be a big, naked mess.
Can you believe someone would ever put a freak on a leash? WAIT…DID I REALLY WAIT THIS LONG BEFORE MAKING A KORN REFERENCE?! I MUST BE SO OLD!
Jeffrey Combs has really carved out a niche for himself in horror movies as being an eccentric outcast and typically only pops as in supporting roles. It was pretty cool to be able to see him take on the lead role for once and see him totally knock it out of the park. Granted, he has a certain look about him, so if he were to try to turn his career into a “leading man” direction, it might not be that successful, but this one time it was definitely an enjoyable change of pace. The chemistry between him and Barbara Crampton was enjoyable as well, and the whole backstory of their relationship heightened the tension that much more. Rather than take things the easier way and just have the tension of living in a new country, the whole dead son/drunk driving/blind daughter thing just added a whole new level to everything. Although there was a little too much weird sexual stuff happening in the movie for me with seemingly no explanation, the effects and gore were pretty good and the combination of Combs/Crampton/Gordon always has something to offer.
Wolfman Moon Scale