A low bar, a lower accomplishment…
Don’t get me wrong, I like the original Castle Freak (1995) but it never really merited a full review. Compared to the other works of H. P. Lovecraft that got turned into movies (Re-Animator (1985), From Beyond (1986), Dagon (2001), Color Out of Space (2019)), it’s just ho-hum. The other movies are balls-out bonkers and way more entertaining. Effectively, for Castle Freak (1995), there is nothing to review.
But then some damn fool went and remade Castle Freak in 2020 (CF 20). Now, I guess I have to watch that, and if ever Castle Freak (1995) (CF 95) was to get a review, it will be as a comparison to CF 20. So here we go…
The first thing to note about the difference between CF 95 and CF 20, is that there’s WAY more sex and violence in CF 20. In CF 20, the Freak fucks and murders her way through a colorful cast of characters. In CF 95, there wasn’t a lot to it. There were three main characters TOTAL, all of which had to survive to the end of the movie, so there wasn’t an awful lot of murder. The most graphic scenes from CF 95 was when the Freak eats a cat then eats a prostitute. Both of those scenes were fucked up and didn’t hold a lot back, but that was basically the bulk of the gore and violence. In CF 20, there were a lot more people to kill. Eight characters in total. And apparently killing them wasn’t the only thing on the agenda as the Freak even fucks the male lead… at one point her vagina kinda attacks another character. So, already CF 20 is upping the ante and doing more with the concept.
ONE little problem… the acting is ‘porno’ bad. It might be just shy better than porno, but barely. I mean it’s BAAAAAAAD. There’s one character that basically can’t deliver a line without sounding like he’s reading it directly from the script. Then there’s the female lead who does the best work but basically only as good as you’d expect out of an extra from an 80’s slasher flick. The other characters are more like caricatures, being based totally around ‘drunk and angry’ and nothing else. I honestly haven’t seen acting this bad since Phantasm III (1994).
Another thing I have to take issue with is how long it took the plot to get going. I mean, YEAH shit was happening before and after the 30-minute mark, but the cast of colorful characters don’t even show up until the halfway mark. The first 45 fucking minutes is basically this dumb game of cat and mouse involving the Freak and the two leads. And it’s not like there’s even exposition, it’s literally all setup. 45 fucking minutes of just STAGING the fucking movie.
The plot is also kinda week. They never exactly bother to deal with the estrangement of the female lead and her mother. Like, that kinda sticks out, doesn’t it? Bitch basically abandoned her and they never really talk about it. They also never firmly explain how no one knew she had a twin sister who was horrifically deformed. These would have been easy things to hang lanterns on, but they must have wasted that time in the 45 minutes of setup. It’s also kinda weird that the ‘freak’ sister isn’t very cooperative. You figure the cult would have raised her to be more dutiful. I mean, she’s in the house waiting for her sister to come back so they can summon Yog Sothoth, but then doesn’t even bother to try until the very end of the movie. She even captures and partially cannibalizes one of the cultists. Isn’t reuniting with her sister and opening the gates to the beyond everything she ever wanted? What has the cult been doing all these years?
Also, at the end there’s an easter egg, where they clearly plan to remake Re-Animator. They gotta step up their game if they’re gonna give Re-Animator a shot. It’s one of the greatest examples of bonkers HPL movie adaptations and might be a little out of this studio’s league.
So the real question here -since CF 20 was obviously not good- IS CF 20 “so bad it’s good.” Well… kinda. The abysmal acting really gets it there. It was enough to push CF 20 into riff worthy territory and in this case, I can recommend it. If you’re looking to get drunk and riff a movie with your buddies, it’s perfect for that. If you’re a Hardcore Horror Head, you may wanna give it a shot, just because of what it is, but don’t expect much more than the original. They really should have gone for balls-out bonkers and it’s disappointing they tried to take it seriously with acting this bad. But, again, it’s worth it for riffing.
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