Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Castle Freak (1995, Stuart Gordon)


How to know you’re in a horror movie: you have been blinded in a car accident, your parents are played by Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, and Combs’ haunted ex professor is moving the family into a huge Italian castle. This is Stuart Gordon’s Castle Freak, an exercise in slow burning fear that, although a bit too slow, is still creepy and entertaining.

I mean you have a movie where a deranged monster escapes and the family hangs around, because…why not? Sure later on they can’t leave but the minute I found out the castle had a rather serious issue I would be running far, far away. Yet when the blind daughter, played by Jessica Dollarhide, tells her parents someone is in the castle they dismiss her as hearing things. The fact that her parents are fighting only complicates things and adds to more problems later on.

One thing I like about Gordon’s work so far (I’ve seen his two other Lovecraft inspired films from the 80s) is that he embodies his movies with a sense of dread, plus gore. The creature effects here are nasty and brutal enough, and the last act is suspenseful. Despite its flaws Castle Freak is a solid entry in the “Don’t go in the house” type of movie, which by the 90s seemed to be on life support for some reason.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Late Phases (2014, Adrián García Bogliano)


Ever since the 1980s werewolf movies have become more improved and more interesting. Late Phases works as a slow burning and intense character study that has a fantastic last act. The rest of the film works as a look at a hard man that is paying for the choices he’s made in his life. Unfortunately for him there is a werewolf, and this beast is human the rest of the time. Don’t get too attached to that nice little old lady next door: she gets ripped to shreds. Makes me think of Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon.

Cinema screen tough guy Nick Damici plays Ambrose, a Vietnam War veteran who is haunted by the past. He is also blind, and has just moved into a retirement community. His relationship with his son, Will, played by Ethan Embry, is on the ropes due to Ambrose being kind of a grumpy asshole. In fact, this film spends more time on its characters than the actual creatures that the film is supposed to be about.

I loved the last act and I did like how the film kept me guessing about who the werewolf or werewolves were in the closed gate community. Although Late Phases doesn’t really reinvent the werewolf sub genre it is a really well made and captivating horror film. One of the aspects I enjoy about modern horror is that the best it has to offer is usually well made and very engaging. This film happens to be a good study in how to make the best out of a low budget situation. Also for a low budget film the creature effects were rather solid. Nice.

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