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Film / Castle Freak

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Castle Freak is a 1995 horror movie directed by Stuart Gordon, the director of Re-Animator and From Beyond and starring two of the lead actors from the both of them, Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton.

John Reilly (Combs) has inherited a castle in Italy, where he moves in with his wife, Susan (Crampton), and blind daughter, Rebecca. As time passes, strange happenings occur in the castle, and it becomes clear to John that there’s someone — or something — living in the castle with them. And it’s not friendly.

Loosely based on the H. P. Lovecraft short story, The Outsider.


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Tropes found in Castle Freak include:

  • Abusive Parents: Duchess Orsino put her five year old son Giorgio in a small room and subjected him to daily beatings, torture and even castration in revenge for Giorgio's father leaving her for her sister.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: Whereas the narrator of The Outsider is shown to have an understanding of his surroundings and to have some degree of literary knowledge, the castle freak is a savage monster of a man with no capacity for anything except violence.
  • Adaptational Villainy: While the narrator of The Outsider is certainly frightening in appearance, there's nothing to say that he would have hurt anybody, as the party guests fled when they saw him. The castle freak, however, is a lot more vicious and dangerous.
  • Adult Fear: Getting in a drunk driving accident that costs the life of one of your children and the sight of the other is certainly this. As is said blinded child being stalked by a murderous, barely human creature.
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  • The Alcoholic: John is a recovering one, though he relapses after his suicide attempt.
  • Amoral Attorney: Played with. Gianetti seems wholly unconcerned with much beyond getting his case done and isn't altogether worried that John may well have killed a local prostitute. But when he sees Sylvanna's ravaged corpse along with his own sister, the maid, beaten to death, he tries to throttle John on the spot.
  • Antagonist Title: The titular castle freak is the monstrous creature stalking the castle.
  • Anti-Villain: There's a few subtle implications that Giorgio just wants to feel loved, but he doesn't understand how.
  • Asshole Victim: In the opening scene, the Duchess whips Giorgio so badly she gets a heart attack and dies.
  • The Atoner: John badly wants to make up for the death of his son JJ and the blinding of his daughter Rebecca, caused by an accident when he was driving drunk.
  • Ax-Crazy: Giorgio only knows how to interact with others through violence.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Kind of. Giorgio covers himself up in a bedsheet, and John initially mistakes him for JJ's ghost.
  • Body Horror: The castle freak is facially disfigured, gray-skinned, horribly emaciated, covered in whipping scars, and is missing his penis. He adds to the extent of his deformities while escaping by breaking off his own thumb.
  • Bittersweet Ending: John is dead, but he's saved his family from Giorgio by taking him with him, and Susan has apparently forgiven him for the accident that killed JJ and blinded Rebecca.
  • Byronic Hero: John is a recovering alcoholic whose alcoholism resulted in a car crash that ended in the death of his son and his daughter being blinded, and even on the wagon, he's still an irresponsible parent, despite his half-hearted attempts to be a better person.
  • Cassandra Truth: Rebecca tries to tell both her parents that someone else in the castle, though John is quicker to believe her.
  • Chain Pain: Giorgio uses his chains as weapons in his fight with John.
  • Darker and Edgier: While Stuart Gordon is most well-known for darkly humorous Lovecraft adaptations, Castle Freak is visibly lacking in any of the sardonic humor of Re-Animator or the campiness of From Beyond, and plays its mature themes completely seriously. It’s also this compared to most other Full Moon Pictures productions.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: The prostitute that John has sex with, and that Giorgio brutally murders.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Duchess takes out her rage towards her husband for running away with her sister on Giorgio, who was their child, by locking him in a small room in the castle and only going in to torture him.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Played for Drama when Susan undoes her bra to pull Giorgio away from Rebecca, then stabs him with the knife she has hidden.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Duchess Orsino turns her son into a toy to vent her anger and hatred on for forty two years, torturing him constantly. But it's said she cared for her cats and regularly doted on them.
  • Fingore: To break free of his cuffs, the castle freak tears off his own thumb.
  • Freudian Excuse: The castle freak has a surprisingly valid one: his mother was ashamed of his existence, and as such, kept him chained up in a small room, only coming in to either to feed him or to beat him. As such, he doesn't have any concept of social interaction aside from what he'd known his entire life. He makes the life of the titular character of the story Castle Freak is based on look cheerful!
  • Full-Frontal Assault: With the exception of the bedsheet, Giorgio is completely naked. The one thing missing, however, is his penis, though he does still have an intact scrotum.
  • Gorn: This is, after all, a Stuart Gordon adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: John fights Giorgio to the death, allowing Susan and Rebecca to escape. He jumps off the roof, taking the castle freak with him.
  • Inspector Javert: The local police chief believes John is a murderer and goes after him for it. Turns out he has a personal reason, as the prostitute Sylvanna that John supposedly killed was his lover whom he has a son with, and he has every reason to believe John is the killer in pursuing him.
  • It Can Think: While largely animalistic in behavior otherwise, Giorgio shows a primitive intelligence, such as hiding in a bedsheet in a room with furniture that's covered in bedsheets, using the bedsheet to cover up his disfigurements, dragging both the hooker and Rebecca to his cell and chaining them up, and even seems to acknowledge Rebecca's blindness at one point.
  • Karma Houdini: The Duchess lives to an ancient old age unrepentantly torturing her son for forty-two years on end. The movie opens with her abusing Giorgio, before waltzing up to bed and dying quietly of old age.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Inverted. The Duchess' one redeeming quality is that she adores and dotes on her cats, but beyond that she's as wicked as it gets.
  • Manly Tears: John breaks into them when he sees what he thinks is JJ's photo on Giorgio's grave in the crypt.
  • Never My Fault: Susan tears down John with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, claiming that he never owns up to his wrongs.
  • Obliviously Evil: Giorgio doesn't seem to comprehend that he's done any wrong.
  • Police Are Useless: Forte refuses to search the castle when John tries to tell him there's someone else in there, believing him to have smashed the mirror himself. Once he starts interrogating him, he refuses to let him go until he gives him the answers he wants to hear, and refuses to take his family out of the castle. At the very least, he could have saved his own men if he'd just humored him.
  • Precision F-Strike: While being interrogated, John lets one loose. He then receives a blow to the head with Forte's baton.
    John: I didn't kill her, I fucked her, okay?
  • Psychopathic Manchild:
    • Due to his only human interaction in years having been the abuse he received from his mother, Giorgio doesn't realize that he's doing anything wrong when he commits murder and eventually sexual assault. He just observed John having sex with the prostitute, and as such, thought that it was perfectly okay for him to make advances on her the way he did.
    • The Duchess was implied to be a higher-functioning, gender-flipped version. The housekeeper said that she always demanded that she get what she wants, and was prone to violent tantrums when she didn't.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Once he escapes from his prison, Giorgio sees himself in a mirror, which he promptly smashes.
  • Really Gets Around: Sylvanna Lucci, the hooker, is said to have screwed most of the town, including John's lawyer, Gianetti.
  • Redemption Equals Death: John, who was responsible for the death of JJ and spent the majority of the movie being a jerkass and not owning up to his history, earns his wife's forgiveness by saving her and Rebecca from Giorgio. Saving them, in this case, entails a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Giorgio, despite being an emaciated monster dragging a rattling chain, is shockingly good at appearing and vanishing like a freaking ninja.
  • Taking You with Me: Unable to defeat Giorgio one on one, and with no other way to save his family, John attaches himself to Giorgio's chain and throws himself off the castle to drag Giorgio to his death.
  • Tragic Monster: The castle freak lived such a traumatic childhood, literally closed off from every other being but himself and his monstrous mother, and as such, has absolutely no idea how to peacefully interact with other living creatures.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When he finds the Duchess' whip, Giorgio flips out and starts using it to smash everything in sight.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Poor Giorgio. You just can’t help but feel sorry for the guy, with the miserable life he lived. Arguably, John did him a favor by killing him.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Rebecca tries to convince her parents that someone else is in the castle with them. This later applies to John, as well, although he initially thinks that the castle is haunted by JJ's ghost, and still later tries to convince Rebecca and Susan that he didn't kill the housekeeper and the hooker.
  • Your Cheating Heart: John cheats on Susan with a prostitute. It apparently runs in the family; his father, the Duchess' husband, ran away with the Duchess' sister, whose union bore John.
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