Cast: John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, Lynne Griffin, Linda Thorson, Anne Ditchburn, Sandee Currie, Deborah Burgess, Michael Wincott, Maury Chaykin, Joann McIntyre, Calvin Butler and Lesleh Donaldson.
"Six beautiful girls trying to get ahead... when the curtains fall, five will be dead."
After buying the rights to a major new film named "Audra", the director (aptly named Jonathan Stryker) fools business partner and actress Samantha Sherwood into entering a mental asylum to prepare for the role. But when she finds out that he has decided to let her stay there permanently and instead invited six actresses around to his mansion to audition she escapes and plots her revenge. Soon after the bodies begin piling up.....
Maybe I'm a bit biased, I first saw this film when I was having a really bad time and needed escape. This gave me that escape and took me on a very entertaining journey as well. Sometimes films hit you at the right time of your life and so you naturally appreciate them perhaps that 10% more than what most others do. If ever there was an example of that then it's this film which is and always will be very special to me.
I've read criticism before of Curtains that it's perhaps a bit too straight played, too lacking in gore and too slow and glum. These are perfectly fair criticisms, ones I can understand, however I happen to disagree. A major strength this film has is being a seperate entity from other teen led body count films around the time. For once it's nice to have actors who can actually act and it's nice to escape from the happy go lucky style of many others of this ilk. This film is grim, it's (almost) humourless and that's exactly what I believe it set out to do and managed to achieve.
It isn't without its quirks though, is it a coincidence that the lead female actress was called "Samantha" who of course was played by Samantha Eggar and is it also a coincidence that the Belgium born director (Richard Ciupka) used a pseudonym of Jonathan Stryker? These things aren't important but they help the film stand out.
Its cast has a few familiar faces. We all know about John Vernon who starred in classics such as THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES and DIRTY HARRY as well as the not so classic late Alfred Hitchcock movie TOPAZ. Samantha Eggar of THE BROOD and THE EXTERMINATOR fame. And of course lesser known actresses such as Lynne Griffin who you might recognise as the first victim in BLACK CHRISTMAS as well as the lovely Lesleh Donaldson of HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME and FUNERAL HOME fame.
Any Slasher movie fan worth his or her salt will be all too aware of the much talked about ice skating scene that occurs in the middle of the film. It introduces the eerie looking "old hag" killer who in my opinion is one of the most iconic screen killers of all time. It's a classy and well directed scene and is Curtains' finest moment. That doesn't mean that the rest of the film is disappointing in comparison because it isn't, in actual fact this is what I'd call a very consistent and well paced movie and contains many scenes that I savour whenever I see them. It's not flooded with gore, it doesn't even have a high body count and yes the identity of the killer is very predictable but it's a smooth ride and not once did I feel it swayed or outstayed its welcome.
This film ain't without its negatives though. Some characters could perhaps have done with more screen time. By the time the final chase came about the character was so underdeveloped that it was hard to really get behind her. There were also a couple of big red herrings that weren't at all convincing but were important to the plot. And though it ain't the end of the world it could have done with just a little bit more of the old red stuff.
So what do we have? A moody, atmospheric snowy set Canadian made early '80s stalk and slash film. With a little bit of blood, a fairly low body count, some good and offbeat characters, a creepy doll, an eerie sickle wielding hag, an iconic death scene, a few bare breasts and a short lesbian sequence. Did I miss anything?
One of the many '80s Slasher movies and in my opinion one of the best with lots of replay value. While it's not quite up there with (in my opinion) the genre's very best examples such as SLAUGHTER HIGH, HELL NIGHT and THE MUTILATOR (to name but a few) It still stands as a gem, a real gem! Now lie down, wrap up warm, rest your head and enjoy the film because winter nights are the best time to view this film - 4/5.
Now can somebody please release this classic on DVD please with a lovely restored picture, nice artwork and a few extras?