SHUDDER AND SHRIEK: a castle freak and a couple of freaks

Since I’m running out of movies to stream on every single service, two new ones that just hit Shudder were a welcome chance to blog about something. So let’s get right into the Castle Freak remake and Anything for Jackson.

CASTLE FREAK (2020)

I’ll give this remake credit…it definitely updates the vibe while touching upon basic elements of the original concept. The only real problem I had with Castle Freak 2020 is that it’s quite boring for a majority of its running time.

It opens mostly the same as the original, with a woman feeding then beating the castle freak in its lair. This woman, however, gets a welcome backstory that is revealed slowly throughout the movie–as is a more complex backstory for the Castle Freak.

Next, a blind woman and her husband come to the castle, which belonged to her deceased mother. The blind woman has dreams she believes are connecting her to her mother. She’s also convinced someone is in the castle with them.

Of course there’s someone in the castle with them! It’s the sexually repressed castle freak, who just loves watching them screw.

Those aspects take up the bulk of the movie. So what about the prostitute tit munching scene? Doesn’t happen. Instead, the castle freak meets up with a druggy in the underground tunnels and messes him up gory good.

Finally, a group of friends visits the couple. And yet…still nothing happens as we wait impatiently for the body count to start.

I’d say the last twenty minutes or so is where all the horror fun happens. It’s nasty, it has a whole new realm of plot compared to the original movie, and there are some really icky situations. If only the fun had been spread out over the span of the run time.

Note—stick around through the closing credits for a tag scene.

ANYTHING FOR JACKSON (2020)

Dare I say I didn’t expect anything from Anything for Jackson? That’s a good thing, because my lack of expectations sometimes leads to happy surprises, as is the case with this pretty damn creepy and original film.

Like a mashup of Misery and Rosemary’s Baby with the feel of dread the Overlook Hotel instilled in us in The Shining, this is the tale of an older couple that abducts a young pregnant woman.

The pair has special plans for her baby, which involves doing a ritual and reading incantations from an occult book.

Their magic goes horribly wrong, unleashing frightening entities that haunt their home.

I don’t often like when the bad guy is the protagonist because I never feel concern for them, but there is something so gullible and misguided about this couple that the terror of what they begin experiencing really comes through.

Nightmarish specters and frightening situations abound (a Halloween segment is one of my faves), but like most excellent films, this one is not without its flaws. The pacing is moving along fantastically, but suddenly things come to a screeching halt for a while when a minor character is brought to the forefront, which I personally felt disrupts the flow.

Thankfully, the final act gets back on track, drawing us in once again with the tone and atmosphere it delivered earlier on.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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