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(aka "Stuart Gordon's Castle Freak" )

 

directed by Stuart Gordon
USA/Italy 1995

 

When the reclusive Duchess D'Orsino (Helen Stirling, AND THE SHIP SAILS ON) dies, distant nephew John Reilly (Jeffrey Combs, RE-ANIMATOR) inherits Castle D'Orsino and jets off to Italy with his estranged wife Susan (Barbara Crampton, FROM BEYOND) and daughter Rebecca (Jessica Dollarhide) who was blinded in a car crash whiel John was driving (the accident also took the life of five year old son JJ).The fractured family is eager to sell the castle, but must first make an inventory of it since no one other than housekeeper Agnese (Elisabeth Kaza, THE BEAST) has been inside the castle since WWII. Still mourning the death of his son, John becomes intrigued by the story of the duchess' son Giorgio, who also died young and was rumored to have been murdered by his mother after she was abandoned by the American soldier who fathered the child. Strange noises and nighttime visits from a shadowy, chain-rattling figure lead Rebecca to realize that someone else is inside the castle. When prostitute Sylvana (Raffaella Offidani, THE VOYEUR) is discovered horribly mutilated in the castle dungeons, the police arrest John, leaving Susan and Rebecca alone in the castle with the CASTLE FREAK.

H.P. Lovecraft's short story "The Outsider" has been cited as an influence on the script by Gordon's regular writing collaborator Dennis Paoli (DAGON); but that story was told from the perspective of the titular character, and any slight resemblance between the story and the film dissipates after the broken mirror scene early on in the film. If the castle location seems familiar, it is because it is the Castello di Giove which figures into a number of Italian-lensed Full Moon productions including
THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM and MERIDIAN. The dramatic aspects of the story never fully register despite sensitive performances by Combs and Crampton, and the downbeat tone may be off-putting to fans of RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, and DOLLS. Attempts are made to garner sympathy for the castle freak, and Jonathan Fuller (THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM) does manage to emote through the full body make-up job. John Vulich's (the 1990 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remake) effects are more grisly than gory, but the film's major gore set-piece is more ugly than transgressive. Richard Band's chamber score suits the more intimate scope of the film (although the budget was also a likely reason that this one did not receive the full orchestral treatment of Band's earlier scores for Gordon). Gordon's family (including wife Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, who usually has larger supporting roles in his films) are on hand as extras among the town locals. Although not one of Gordon's better works, CASTLE FREAK is one of the stronger Full Moon releases of the company's later period in terms of both quality and graphic content.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 14 November 1995 (USA)

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Comparison:

Full Moon - Region 0 - NTSC vs. 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL vs. 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for all the DVD Screen Caps!

1) Full Moon - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Full Moon are coming out with their Blu-ray edition in August of 2013 here:

 

Distribution

Full Moon

Region 0 - NTSC

88 Films
Region 0 - PAL
88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:35:09 1:30:45 (4% PAL speedup) 1:34:44.178
Video

1.31:1 Open Matte format
Average Bitrate: 4.63 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.6 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.85:1 - 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,742,733,677 bytes

Feature: 20,128,665,600 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Full Moon

 

Bitrate:

 

88 Films

 

Bitrate:

 

88 Films Blu-ray

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2065 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2065 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Subtitles none none none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Full Moon

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.31:1

Edition Details:
• VIDEOZONE (4:3; 9:29)
• Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 2:12)
• Full Moon Merchandise
• Full Moon Toys
• Trailers for VAMPIRE JOURNALS, HEAD OF THE FAMILY, HIDEOUS!, and CREEPS

DVD Release Date: 16 December 1997
Amaray

Chapters 14
 

Release Information:
Studio: 88 Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• VIDEOZONE (4:3; 9:26)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 2:08)
• Trailers for SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA, PUPPET MASTER, THE DEAD WANT WOMEN, GINGERDEAD MAN 2: THE PASSION OF THE CRUST, TOURIST TRAP, KILLER EYE: HALLOWEEN HAUNT, PIT AND THE PENDULUM, SKULL HEADS, MERIDIAN, and CANNIBAL WOMEN IN THE AVOCADO JUNGLE OF DEATH

 

DVD Release Date: 14 May 2012
Amaray

Chapters 24

Release Information:
Studio: 88 Films

 

1.85:1 - 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,742,733,677 bytes

Feature: 20,128,665,600 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Castle Speak With Stuart Gordon (6:05)
• Original Trailer (2:14)
• Original Videozone (9:25)
• The Evil Clergyman (28:57 in 480i)
• The Premiere of The Evil Clergyman Featurette (6:03)
• Trancers 1.5 Preview (1:31)
• The Pit and the Pendulum trailer (2:28)
• Reversible Sleeve incorporating original artwork

 

Blu-ray Release Date: July 15th, 2013
Standard Blu-ray Cover

Chapters 24

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION 88 Films Blu-ray - June 2013: 88 Films upgrades from their May 2012 DVD with a 1080P transfer on Blu-ray. It advances in the expected areas - detail rises and the dark scenes (that frequent in the film) show no noise or artifacts. There is visible grain textures. It looks more like film than video now. Skin tones cool a shade and colors tighten. It is single-layered but with a supportive bitrate for the 1.5 hour film. It is in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Considering the production roots - it gave me a reasonably good video presentation.

The audio is now lossless via a choice of DTS-HD Master 5.1 bump or a linear PCM 2.0 channel. There are some demonstrative separations in the surround with effects rife throughout. There are no subtitles on the Region FREE Blu-ray disc.

Supplements add from the DVD of the previous year with a conversation with director Stuart Gordon on Castle Freak for just over 6 -minutes. The 'Videozone' piece and trailer are repeated but we also get The Evil Clergyman - a 1/2 hour short based on the H.P. Lovecraft story, along with its premiere footage, Trancers 1.5 preview (coming Oct 2013) and a Pit and the Pendulum trailer. The package offers reversible artwork. 

Fan favorite Crampton has some screen time and it's a spooky ride - one fans of the genre will wish to partake. The Blu-ray has the definitive a/v and extras to date - which seems like an easy choice for those keen. 

 - Gary Tooze

***

ON THE DVDs: 88 Films' progressive, dual-layer, anamorphic DVD of CASTLE FREAK debuts the film's new HD master (the current US DVD's transfer is at least fifteen years old). Shot with home video in mind (with theatrical screenings as a secondary market), the widescreen cropping mattes away dead space at the top and bottom (although 1.66:1 might have been a better choice) while adding a little to the sides only occasionally. Despite some edge enhancement (probably part of Full Moon's master), detail is heightened, natural grain is more apparent, and the image looks overall less hazy. The image is not going to look dazzling because director Stuart Gordon and cinematographer Mario Vulpiani favor a grittier look than the bulk of Full Moon product from this time (most shot by Adolfo Bartoli). The Dolby Digital stereo tracks are comparable, highlighting Richard Band's score and lots of offscreen sounds and shattering glass.

Both discs feature the VIDEOZONE behind the scenes segment and the theatrical trailer (88 Films' disc also features the trailer in a 16:9 upgrade). The 88 Films disc has ten Full Moon trailers (including the new release THE DEAD WANT WOMEN) while the Full Moon disc features only four trailers and merchandising/website links. So far, this is 88 Films most impressive Full Moon upgrade.

Full Moon has not announced a new Blu-ray or DVD of the new master, but their current edition is still in print and can be purchased cheaply individually or in Full Moon's Stuart Gordon boxed set (HERE) which features the old transfers but also a bonus disc in which William Shatner interviews Gordon and some of his collaborators about Gordon's work.

 - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menus
(
Full Moon - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 

88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Full Moon - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Full Moon - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Full Moon - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Full Moon - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Full Moon - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Full Moon - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Full Moon - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) 88 Films - Region 0 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) 88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray

 
Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Full Moon are coming out with their Blu-ray edition in August of 2013 here:

 

Distribution

Full Moon

Region 0 - NTSC

88 Films
Region 0 - PAL
88 Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 




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Gary Tooze

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