Castle Freak

Castle Freak (stylized in all caps) is a 1995 American horror film directed by Stuart Gordon, loosely based upon the short story The Outsider by H. P. Lovecraft. It was released direct-to-video on November 14, 1995. The film contains elements of splatter and slasher films.

Castle Freak
Home video release poster
Directed byStuart Gordon
Produced byAlbert Band
Charles Band
Maurizio Maggi
Screenplay byDennis Paoli
Story byStuart Gordon
Dennis Paoli
Based onThe Outsider
by H. P. Lovecraft
StarringJeffrey Combs
Barbara Crampton
Jessica Dollarhide
Jonathan Fuller
Music byRichard Band
CinematographyMario Vulpiani
Edited byBert Glatstein
Full Moon Enterprises
Full Moon Entertainment
Distributed byFull Moon Entertainment
Release date
November 14, 1995 (USA)
Running time
90 min.
CountryUnited States


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 (infidelity). 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 brother and that the Duchess was his mother. The Duchess chained Giorgio up and tortured him all of his life because her husband abandoned her for 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 between two policemen. 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 police at John's funeral.


  • Jeffrey Combs as John Reilly
  • Barbara Crampton as Susan Reilly
  • Johnathan 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


Director Stuart Gordon was in Charles Band's office and he noticed a poster entitled Castle Freak with a Quasimodo-like man chained to a wall being whipped by a woman.[1] When Gordon asked about it Band replied "Well, that's a castle and there's a freak."[1] Band said he had no script but if Gordon wanted it, he could do whatever he wanted with the idea as long as he maintained the concepts of a castle and a freak.[1]

Gordon made the film for $500,000, which was his smallest budget ever.[1]


Home media

The film was released on VHS by Full Moon Home Video on November 25, 1997.[2] It was released for the first time on DVD by Full Moon Home Video on December 16, 1997. Full Moon later re-released the film on October 4, 2005 as a part of its Slab of Horror Movie Pack. On October 10, 2006, it was released by Wizard Entertainment for its four-disc The Stuart Gordon Presents Box Set. Wizard would re-release the film on September 1, 2009 and February 13, 2012 before releasing it for the first time on Blu-ray on May 14, 2013. In between that time, it was released by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment on November 9, 2010, and on February 12, 2013. It was last released on Blu-ray by Ais on August 13, 2013.[3]

Critical reception

Castle Freak has received mixed to positive reviews from critics, although many have praised its disturbing feel and tight storyline. It currently holds a 63% approval rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on eight reviews.[4]

Dave Dunwoody from Oh, The Horror! gave the film a positive review, complimenting the film's direction, acting, gore, and make-up and calling it "a standout among Lovecraft movies".[5] In their book Lurker in the Lobby: A Guide to the Cinema of H. P. Lovecraft, Andrew Migliore and John Strysik write: "Castle Freak is a solid, even near-classic horror movie. Unlike the gory roller-coaster rides of Re-Animator and From Beyond, it is very serious and very adult. The only major flaw is one unnecessary and detestable scene of brutal violence."[6] Joel Harley from praised the film, writing, "Castle Freak is a gem. It’s scary, gruesome and disturbing. It’s excellently acted by Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton. The cinematography, location, gore and special effects are outstanding. The creature design is awful (in a good way). Stuart Gordon’s direction is, of course, great. The plot with Reilly’s blind daughter seems somewhat obvious, but thankfully it doesn’t take as distasteful a turn as the one with the prostitute. It’s a minor work when compared to Re-Animator and From Beyond, but no less effective. In spite of its flaws, it ranks amongst the best Lovecraft adaptations of all time."[7]

TV Guide gave the film a mixed review, awarding it 2/5 stars, writing, "While it lacks the wry, subversive humor of his most popular films, Stuart Gordon's Castle Freak is a scary and satisfying exercise in straightforward horror."[8] Dennis Schwartz from Ozus' World Movie Reviews awarded the film a grade B-, stating that the film was "Not that interesting psychologically and not as freaky as it sounds". Schwartz did however, commend the film's reasonably good acting, and Gothic mood, concluding that the film was "slightly above the average of the usual Haunted House genre offering."[9]


On April 15, 2018, it was announced that Cinestate and Charles Band would be producing a remake/reboot of Castle Freak, along with the film's original star Barbara Crampton also producing and special effects artist Tate Steinsiek set to direct.[10][11] Announcing his involvement with the project on Instagram, Steinsiek wrote, “It’s such an honor to be taking not only a Stuart Gordon classic but also embracing the world of Lovecraft."[12][13] Crampton later announced that the film would feature an "Expanded Lovecraft Universe", with some elements from the first film, while introducing many new characters.[14]


  1. Fischer, Dennis (2011). Science Fiction Film Directors, 1895–1998. McFarland. p. 256. ISBN 9780786485055.
  2. " Castle Freak [VHS]: Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Jonathan Fuller, Jessica Dollarhide, Massimo Sarchielli, Elisabeth Kaza, Luca Zingaretti, Helen Stirling, Alessandro Sebastian Satta, Raffaella Offidani, Marco Stefanelli, Tunny Piras, Stuart Gordon, Albert Band, Charles Band, Maurizio Maggi, Michael J. Mahoney, Dennis Paoli, H.P. Lovecraft:Movies & TV". Amazon. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  3. "Castle Freak (1995) - Stuart Gordon". AllMovie. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  4. "Castle Freak - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  5. Dunwoody, Dave. "Horror Reviews - Castle Freak (1995)". Oh, the Dave Dunwoody. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
  6. Migliore, Andrew; Strysik, John (February 1, 2006). Lurker in the Lobby: A Guide to the Cinema of H. P. Lovecraft. Night Shade Books. ISBN 978-1892389350.
  7. Harley, Joel. "Film Review: Castle Freak (1995)". Joel Harley. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  8. "Castle Freak - Movie Reviews and Movie Ratings". TV TV Guide. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  9. Schwartz, Dennis. "castlefreak". Dennis Schwartz. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  10. Hamman, Cody. "Remake of Full Moon's Castle Freak is in the works". Cody Hamman. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  11. Miska, Brad. "Cinestate Also Remaking Full Moon's 'Castle Freak' - Bloody Disgusting". Bloody Brad Miska. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  12. Steinsiek, Tate. "Ill Willed on Instagram: "So I can finally announce, I'm Directing the upcoming reboot of Castle Freak! It's such an honor to be taking not only a Stuart Gordon…"". Tate Steinsiek. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  13. Sprague, Mike. "Castle Freak Reboot Coming Soon - Dread Central". Dread Mike Sprague. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  14. Crampton, Barbara. "Barbara Crampton on Twitter". Barbara Crampton. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
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