In many of these cases, at least up until his amazing adaptation of David Mamets Edmond (2005), it feels that Stuart Gordon is searching around trying to find and replicate the same elements that made Re-Animator a success again, but without quite succeeding with From Beyond, Gordon reunited most of the cast and production personnel of Re-Animator in another splatter-heavy H.P. Lovecraft adaptation; and with Dagon, he and the same writing/producing team united on a further Lovecraft adaptation. It feels like Gordon is trying the same here on Castle Freak, which reunites Gordon with his Re-Animator principals Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, as well as scripter Dennis Paoli, producers Albert and Charles Band and musician Richard Band. There is nothing on the credits of Castle Freak that acknowledges H.P. Lovecraft as source, although many have taken the film to be based on the Lovecraft short story The Outsider (1921), to which Castle Freak has nominal similarities.
Castle Freak feels like Stuart Gordon is trying to revisit one of the Italian Gothic films of the 1960s the likes of The Blancheville Monster (1962), The Terror of Dr Hichcock (1962), The Spectre (1963), Castle of Blood (1964), The Long Hair of Death (1964), Bloody Pit of Horror (1965), Night is the Phantom (1965), Nightmare Castle (1965), Terror Creatures from the Grave (1965) and Baron Blood (1972). These would usually feature Barbara Steele and a plot about people inheriting a castle that had family secrets buried in the dungeons and/or resurrected sadistic nobles. Castle Freak rehashes the basic plot elements of these Italian films, albeit with a good deal more in the way of modern gore effects.
Alas, Castle Freak is routine in all respects. Stuart Gordon shot the film in a real castle in the small village of Giove in Umbria, Italy one that was in fact owned by the films Executive Producer Albert Band. Despite an impressive location, Castle Freak consists of nothing more than people skulking around the castle with little in the way of plot development. This video version seen here also gives the impression that much of the gore has been trimmed nevertheless, Optic Nerves deformed figure in the dungeon still looks nasty. However, with all of the gore trimmed, gone is the reason to watch much of Castle Freak. Occasionally, Stuart Gordons sense of black humour emerges like the scenes with daughter Jessica Dollarhide talking about how her true love will come for her as the creature creeps up and starts fondling her but Gordon never pushes any of this as far as he did in Re-Animator. Jeffrey Combss lead character is written with a self-loathing that is highly unappealing. Even the title, Castle Freak, seems silly and unserious.
Stuart Gordons other genre films include:- Re-Animator (1985), From Beyond (1986), Dolls (1987), the live-action Transformers film Robot Jox (1990), the vampire tv movie Daughter of Darkness (1990), the Edgar Allan Poe adaptation The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), the future prison film Fortress (1993), Space Truckers (1996), the Ray Bradbury adaptation The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit (1998), the H.P. Lovecraft adaptation Dagon (2001) and the true crime based Stuck (2007).