The low-budget video nasty is getting an upgrade! Barbara Crampton announced, and Cinestate has confirmed, that they are in production of a re-imagining of the 1995 Stuart Gordon film.
So, if you’re like me and Mike, you will have spent many hours browsing through countless horror movies, having seen all the standards. (OK… MOST of the standards, there are a few we’ve missed.) So, you start looking for references that we can rely upon to sort through the clutter that is low-budget horror. Mike and I LOVED the cheapie Stuart Gordon films The Re-Animator and From Beyond, both produced by Full Moon Entertainment, a production house that in the late 80’s and early 90’s made its reputation on straight-to-VHS productions and on miniscule budgets. So we gave Castle Freak a try. I would say that it is the bookend set for this particular Stuart Gordon crew.
Castle Freak carried the same low-budget vibe but took its act to Italy, and they were able to shoot in a castle (duh), that was owned by Charles Brand the President of Full Moon Video. If you’ve got a set that cool, why not use it? The cast was largely Italian, with the addition of Full Moon stalwarts Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, both still very active in the genre today. As a result, the English in the production got a little muddy, somewhat reminiscent of the Leo Fulci movies from the 80’s. It often sounded half-dubbed, and the sound quality was overall rather muddy. It also featured some genuinely yucky and memorable moments. (Genital mutilation anyone?) So, this is an advanced degree horror movie, not a Gateway movie. It is, by any analysis, a video cheapie. But it managed to stay with me ‘lo these many years. And it had plenty of brio and attitude missing in many movies of its ilk. The Freak itself was hard to look at, and that’s a success for any movie monster. He’s, well… he’s freaky looking… and haunting. And rather pathetic. As would be appropriate for a 90’s film, the Freak is an EXTREME Quasimodo. Not nearly so empathetic as the malformed but loved bell ringer, but there is something rather sad about him. In an era devoid of original horror movies, I hold onto the nasty little Castle Freak as an original island is a sea of sequel sameness… warts, missing junk, and all.
It was at a pre-screening of Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich fan meet and greet at the Portland Horror Film Festival that Barbara disclosed that she was in fact, producing this new version, and was being produced by Cinestate/Fangoria. I realized how obscure Castle Freak is, when Barabara asked who knew about it, I was the only one who volunteered having seen it. As it turns out, according to Cinestate’s Amanda Presmyk, Charles Brand having seen Puppet Master: TLR, was so enamored with the new Puppet Master movie that he offered up his library to Cinestate CEO to see if there was anything that Fangoria would be interested in doing next, and good friend Dallas Sonnier, Dallas immediately insisted on Castle Freak. I wonder if they’ll go back to the same castle?
The script is being written, and Barbara might be featured (I hope she will be) but she is largely the producer for this remake. I do dearly hope that we get Jeffrey Combs returns in some form. What I think we can expect is if Fangoria does as good a job with this movie as they did with Puppet Master The Littlest Reich, we’ll get a bit more money injected into the project, and an improved script and level of supporting acting. And, if the precedent holds, we will still keep the indie spirit of the film. Cinestate isn’t exactly Universal Pictures, who is looking for the tentpole franchise… there is a clear love for the schlocky gory goodness that made the Full Moon production memorable.
The Scariest Things will stay on top of the story if we get more news about the FREAK.
You can hear Amanda Pesmyk describe in more detail the status of Castle Freak, and what else they have in store for horror fans in our exclusive Podcast interview!