After inheriting a 12th-century castle which belonged to a famed Duchess, John Reilly and his family, including his wife Susan and their blind teenage daughter Rebecca, travel to Italy to live. Susan blames him for the death of their son in a drunk driving accident which killed his five-year-old son and cost their daughter her eyesight.
On the advice of the estate's executor, the three plan to stay at the castle until they can liquidate the estate. Little do they know, however, that a horrible, freakish monster has been kept locked away in the basement. Unbeknownst to them, the duchess' son, Giorgio Orsino, who was kept imprisoned and tortured by the duchess in revenge for her husband leaving her, still lives in the dungeons of the castle.
Soon, the disfigured beast has escaped by means of breaking off his own thumb to get out of the manacles which bind him. The only reference to the H.P. Lovecraft story occurs when the monster beholds his hideous reflection in a mirror. He has emerged hungry for blood, leading to a series of unexplained deaths and disappearances, including that of a prostitute who doesn't speak of English that John picked up and brought to the castle after being rejected by his wife.
When the police name John their prime suspect, he must find the true murderer before he or his family becomes the next victim. Along the way, he must not only battle the creature itself but overcome demons from his own guilty past.
The prostitute is sexually mutilated and killed by the monster, who also prowls around the bedroom of the terrified Rebecca, who can hear, but not see, him. The monster later kills one of the policemen investigating the castle, as well as the maid who lives at the castle and finds the prostitute's body. Eventually he abducts Rebecca and she is manacled in his old cell. Susan comes to the rescue and manages to stab the monster and rescue Rebecca but the monster survives his wound and continues to attack Rebecca and Susan.
John starts putting together some of the weird things he’s been discovering around the castle and realizes that the Freak is actually his brother, and it was his mother that chained him up and tortured him all of his life because her husband abandoned her for America. John must now save himself and his family from this castle's unknown inhabitant before the "castle freak" has his way with them. A climactic rooftop battle between John and the monster ensues, ending in tragedy.
John's funeral began and the son of the prostitute is seen with the police at the end.Jeffrey Combs as John Reilly
Barbara Crampton as Susan Reilly
Johnathan Fuller as Giorgio (the Freak)
Jessica Dollarhide as Rebecca Reilly
Massimo Sarchielli as Giannetti
Elisabeth Kaza as Agnese
Luca Zingaretti as Agent Forte
Helen Stirling as Duchess D'Orsino
Raffaella Offidani as Sylvana
Helen Stirling as Duchess D'Orsino
Castle Freak has received mixed reviews from critics, although many have praised its disturbing feel and tight storyline. It currently holds a 63% approval rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on eight reviews. Dave Dunwoody from Oh, The Horror! gave the film a positive review, complimenting the film's direction, acting, gore, and make-up. Calling it "a standout among Lovecraft movies". In their book Lurker in the Lobby: A Guide to the Cinema of H. P. Lovecraft, Andrew Migliore and John Strysik write: "Castle Freak is a solid, even near-classic horror movie. Unlike the gory roller-coaster rides of Re-Animator and From Beyond, it is very serious and very adult. The only major flaw is one unnecessary and detestable scene of brutal violence.".
Castle Freak premiered on VHS on November 14, 1995 in the United States. The Unrated Director's Cut of the film was released on DVD on December 16, 1997. All released by Full Moon Entertainment. The film was featured as part of The Stuart Gordon Boxset, which also contained The Pit and the Pendulum and Deathbed. The set was made available by WIZARD ENTERTAINMENT on January 16, 2007.
In the United Kingdom, the film was first release on VHS format by Entertainment in Video. The Unrated Director's Cut was made available in the UK on DVD via Film 2000 on October 20, 2008. on May 14, 2012, entertainment company 88 Films released the film on DVD in a digitally restored widescreen version. This is the first time Castle Freak has been available in widescreen, all releases prior to this in the United States and other countries had only seen full frame versions.
Castle Freak was released for the first time in Blu-ray format on April 15, 2013 by 88 Films in the United Kingdom. This is the first country in which the film was released in Blu-ray.
Full Moon Features released the film in Blu-ray in the United States on April 30, 2013.