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  Castle Freak The Thing In The Walls
Year: 2020
Director: Tate Steinsiek
Stars: Clair Catherine, Jake Horowitz, Emily Sweet, Kika Magalhaes, Chris Galust, Omar Shariff Brunson Jr, Elisha Pratt, Genti Kame, Klodian Hoxha, Klodjana Keco
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Some time ago, there was a woman (Kika Magalhaes) who lived in a remote Eastern European castle and had long adopted a strict, religious lifestyle involving regular worship of Jesus Christ, embodied by a large crucifix on the wall of her chamber which she knelt in front of and beat herself with a flail to drive the sin from her body. She would also use that on the creature that lived in the walls, a deformed, pitiable but dangerous entity which looked on through peepholes at those in the castle, though one day when it saw the woman lying dead on the chamber floor, it sent the creature into a further madness it never escaped from. Now, it is time for the castle to be adopted by new owners, the daughter of the dead woman, Rebecca (Clair Catherine).

She has a spot of backstory of her own, as she has recently suffered a life-changing mishap when her boyfriend John (Jake Horowitz) crashed the car she was a passenger in while on a cocaine and alcohol binge, an accident that not only was preventable, but could have stopped Rebecca losing her sight. This was a remake of the Stuart Gordon horror of the nineties, made for the Charles Band
Full Moon company and therefore largely straight to video in most territories, which this project echoed by having Band on board as producer but the production company was actually Fangoria, the dedicated horror magazine that funded various lower budget shockers of the type they believed their readers would thoroughly appreciate.

There was certainly a crowd-pleasing element to this. That said, you would have to wait a good while for it to arrive, as there was a mopey mood to most of this remake before it reached the stuff you imagine most would want to see. As with the first version, the female protagonist was blind, though here a grown woman rather than a teenage girl, nevertheless still obsessed over by the hidden, skulking, titular freak who observes from the secret passages in the building. Catherine, it had to be said, did not make the most convincing of blind ladies, she was no Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark for instance, as the actress had a habit of looking around the set at people she was talking to, plus objects she had to interact with.

She did not give the impression of someone who had been struck sightless, only behaving as if she could not see when it suited the script, which was by horror author Kathy Charles. Before we arrived at that outrageous finale, this Castle Freak wasn't much fun, though to be fair neither was the movie that inspired it, a relentlessly downbeat and miserable effort that seemed to aim for some integrity in how joyless it was. This followed that cue for almost an hour and a half, going nowhere in particular as Rebecca suffers the odd vision, the couple's reprobate friends show up to party and get offed by the freak in slasher movie tradition, and some hard to grasp message was made about outsiders the film didn't seem to get a handle on any more than many other horror flicks produced down the decades.

There were sex scenes and nudity to keep you from nodding off, but it wasn't until John, feeling the need to stray from his increasingly go-nowhere relationship, accidently has sex with the freak, which has a huge vagina containing a massive tentacle, when the H.P. Lovecraft mythos makes its entrance that the film woke up, and approximates something approaching entertainment, but it's too long arriving, and if it had occurred in the first act would have made for a more promising prospect. It is worth waiting for if you find yourself watching it and wondering if you should continue, however - interestingly, it was produced by Barbara Crampton, who had gained genre immortality through her connection to Gordon (to whom the film is dedicated), though not in the original Castle Freak so much, despite being one of its stars. This appeared to indicate Gordon's most celebrated effort was up for remaking next, judging by the mid-credits scene. Music Fabio Frizzi.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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