Features and Columns · Movies

H.P. Lovecraft, ‘Castle Freak,’ and the Pathology of a Preeminent Outsider

In a way….we’re ALL castle freaks.
Castle Freak and Lovecraft
Full Moon Entertainment
By  · Published on December 8th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay about how Stuart Gordon’s Castle Freak gets at the heart of H.P. Lovecraft’s unsettling pathology.

Of all the filmmakers who’ve attempted to capture H.P. Lovecraft‘s work on-screen, no one has been more successful than Stuart Gordon. And while genre fans familiar with his Lovecraft-related output are quick to praise the goopy delights of Re-Animator and From Beyond, one movie remains woefully under-cited.

Locked away behind cinderblocks, chained up for its own depraved good, stands Castle Freak. One of the great “does what it says on the tin” movies out there, Gordon’s 1995 feature is about — say it with us — a castle freak, who emerges from the depths of his decrepit prison to wreak havoc on the new residents.

As Gordon underlines in an interview in Fangoria issue #148., both he and screenwriter Dennis Paoli took inspiration — as ever — from a Lovecraft short story.

Originally published in 1926, “The Outsider” tells of a man leaving his dungeon for the first time in his life, only for everyone he meets to flee in terror at the sight of him. Assuming he is being pursued by some grotesque monstrosity, the man flees, too, eventually catching sight of his own distorted body after finding a mirror.

The video essay below is longer than the runtime of Castle Freak, but with good reason. It makes the case that of all of Gordon’s Lovecraft-inspired movies, Castle Freak is the one with the closest ties to the author. Which, if you know anything about Lovecraft, is a whole can of undulating, eldrich, worms.

So, while admittedly very long, I would very much recommend curious and long-time fans of Gordon and Lovecraft give this a watch. Because while there is a general miasmatic understanding that Lovecraft was xenophobic, among other things, a thoughtful portrait rife with citations and specifics is a rare gift.

Watch “H.P. Lovecraft and the Castle Freak”:

Who made this?

This video essay on the connection between Stuart Gordon’s Castle Freak and H.P. Lovecraft comes from In Praise of Shadows, a channel run by Zane Whitener and based in Asheville, North Carolina, focused on horror, history, and retrospectives. You can subscribe to the In Praise of Shadows YouTube channel here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).