Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Terrific for what it offers...
on 9 June 2012
Using H.P. Lovecraft's "The Outsider" as a starting point, Stuart Gordon again teams with actors Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, writer Dennis Paoli, exec. producer Charles Band and composer Richard Band to complete a loose trilogy of H.P. Lovecraft adaptations that began with the excellent Re-Animator and continued with the underrated and memorable From Beyond (notably, original producer Brian Yuzna was directing his own features at this point and did not return, but he did do a third Lovecraft picture with Gordon and Paoli in 2001's DAGON).
Castle Freak is a direct to video release, unlike Re-Animator and From Beyond, but don't let that fool you - it's definitely a great film from a great genre director. The black comedy which purveyed through Re-Animator, and lessened slightly in From Beyond is now pitch black, when apparent, in Castle Freak. This one is grim, intimate and extremely unpleasant at points. It's also well plotted and very well acted (the actress playing the daughter is not that great, though). I highly recommend it if you're already a fan, but I would definitely point you to Re-Animator and From Beyond first. Re-Animator has a lovely edition out in the US from Elite labelled the MILLENNIUM EDITION and remains one of the best DVDs I own. From Beyond was restored to it's director's cut and released by MGM a couple of years back, again in the US.
However, Full Moon's US DVD of Castle Freak is from the same ugly master they used for the VHS and laserdisc releases. 88 Films' lovely new DVD is, while obviously still from the same negs (faded blacks here and there), a lot sharper and more detailed and now in widescreen, which suits the film perfectly, actually, though I don't believe it was displayed theatrically in this ratio anywhere but a few festivals. Audio sounds a bit cleaner too. Extras are pretty much the same - Videozone and a trailer, but here we also have a lot of trailers for other Empire/Full Moon releases 88 films will be putting out. It's laid out a bit awkward but it's a nice effort.
The cover is also reversable, so the ugly one it comes with can be replaced with the original laserdisc cover (though I think I still prefer the US VHS/DVD cover, with the monster's face, even if it does spoil the film!). I suppose 88 films will be taking these cues from Arrow and Scream Factory in the US? Sounds good. Hopefully they will put the Trancers sequels out in widescreen (and Blu-Ray, hopefully!)
Note: a blu-ray is out now and is even better!