Director Stuart Gordon has had a long time relationship with actor Jeffrey Coombs. Their career together stretches back to the mid-80s when Gordon turned Combs into a cult movie icon by casting him as med student Herbert West in the under-appreciated horror classic, The Re-Animator.
The film became a college campus staple and became synonymous with other cult horror icons like Freddy Kreuger, Ash and Michael Myers.
Gordon and Combs would work together on nine different projects but three always stood out for horror fans; Re-Animator, From Beyond and Castle Freak.
Castle Freak reunited Combs and Gordon with their co-star from those other two films, Barbara Crampton. It wasnt until the other night that I finally finished seeing the “so-called” trilogy.
Castle Freak finds an estranged couple (Combs and Crampton) inheriting a run down Italian castle. A strange secret is buried within the castle and it seems only their blind daughter knows the answer. The secret is that a vastly disfigured man lives in the castle’s many dungeons. When some of the townsfolk go missing Combs is blamed.
In some ways this film feels more demented than Gordon’s other work is because the film is shot on such a low budget that it feels almost Blair Witch in places. Gordon’s always been known for his gore and really creepy characters but this naked, blood-thristy cannibal wrapped in a sheet was really sick.
Combs does his best he can with the material but really if he is in anything I will watch it.
Crampton is completely wasted here as his tormented wife who becomes more of a seeing eye dog to the daughter than a credible character. I did feel her hatred for Combs’s character was bang on though.
The movie just felt like it was a shadow of what this threesome was in Re-Animator and From Beyond. I do understand that this film was made 10 years after Re-Animator but still you would hope some of the magic was still there.
The threesome will all return again in 2010 with the 4th Re-Animator film, House of the Re-Animator and hopefully they won’t forget to bring the camp, buckets of blood and magic they once had.
2 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer