Saturday, October 22, 2011


Curtains (1983)

Dir: Richard Cuipka

During the 80's no film genre was cashed in on more than the Horror Slasher film, And for every Friday the 13th or Halloween there were a thousand knock off's and cash in's attempting to push the boundaries through more gore or tasteless nudity. However there are a few true classics in the genre that never got the attention they deserved. Curtains kind of falls into a strange place as it is not really a shameless cash in , it is not really a  forgotten classic either. Curtains is a bit heavier on the acting rather than the stalk and slash formula so it stands alone among the genre to an extent. Is it a good film? well, let's see.
         John Stryker (John Vernon) a popular director and his main actress Samantha Sherwood are planning on making a movie adaptation of a story Sherwood bought the rights to entitled "Audra". The story is about a crazy woman who looses her mind and becomes a blood thirsty killer. In order to get into the role and research, Samantha goes to a therapist along with Styrker and attacks him violently in order to get herself committed into a Insane Asylum. The longer she stays inside she begins to drift into actual madness. Stryker now feeling she is incapable of playing the role due to her condition, He decides to go ahead with the film and he scouts out 6 potential actresses for the leading role. He invites the girls to his house for a series of auditions.

This news of course upsets Sherwood and she manages to escape the asylum while the potential stars make their way to Strykers house.One unfortunate woman with a knack for role playing in the bedroom does not make it to the house, getting killed along the way when she comes across a doll that looks like a child standing in the road. When she stops to inspect her throat is slit by a person wearing a pretty creepy old woman mask.
Later at Strykers place we meet the rest of the pack which consists of Veteran actress Brooke Parsons, Patti O' Conner a stand up comedian,Laura Summers Ballerina,Tara Demillo musician, Christie Burns a figure skater,The male lead Matthew and a surprising return of Samantha Sherwood. Stryker is not happy t see Sherwood as he says right away she is not going to get the part. From here Stryker puts the girls through several tests and seductions on his casting couch to weed out the weaker links in the pack. Burns is the first to fall for Strykers smooth moves as she reluctantly gives into his bodily demands. The very next morning she is killed while skating in the woods, After she finds the strange doll buried in the snow. The scene while not gory does manage to be suspenseful and is very well shot and we see the killer in the old lady mask wielding a scythe while on ice skates which makes for a very creepy scene.

Later that morning while Stryker gathers his ladies , he notifies them that Burns had left a letter stating she could not handle the pressure and has left for home. During the days rehearsals Stryker humiliates Sherwood by forcing her to dawn the same mask as the killer and forcing her to act ugly without saying anything.Else where Brooke finds Christie's head in the toilet and screams alerting the rest of the gang. Stryker checks on the noise and finds nothing, Believing she is just acting in order to get the role, He of course then takes her to bed and Sherwood see's this and is upset that she is not getting the attention she deserves due to her actually acquiring the rights to the script. Later while Summers is dancing alone she is murdered again in a non gory fashion, but the scene leading up to the kill does manage to build some suspense.Shortly after Stryker and Parsons are shot to death and sent falling out of the second story window.

Demillo hearing the gunfire runs through the house looking for a hiding spot and stumbles into a stage room filled with props , lighting and set pieces which makes for some truly interesting and unsettling background. She quickly notices she is being followed by the killer and the hag faced murderer is hot on her trail. This leads into a long drawn out game of hide and seek with some genuinely creepy moments.After about 20 minutes of cat and mouse, Demillo is caught and killed off camera. This leaves only Sherwood and O'Conner in the house  where in the kitchen Sherwood admits to shooting and killing Stryker and Brooke , telling Conner to go home as she will not be needed for the role as Sherwood will be putting together "Audra" by herself. At this point we get the twist ending where the real killer is revealed and only one woman is left standing, As she is seen performing her act in a Insane Asylum as the credits roll.

Curtains is a interesting take on the Slasher genre, Focusing more on the character development and suspence rather than the stalk and slash , gore aspect. I do feel the film could have benefited from having at least one giory kill just to make it more memorable as the rest of the film is well acted , written and the cinematography is very good being somewhat reminiscent of a early Italian Giallo flick as opposed to the traditional American Slasher. The director of this film truly knows what he wanted to do with the camera and he gets everything out of a scene he can, Being an established cinematographer prior to this film , working on some exploitation classics such as The Ilsa Series and some others. Newer Horror fans may find this one a little boring due to the lack of gore and I think that is what has kept this film from achieving cult status like some other lesser known slashers like Prowler,The Burning among others. Curtains is very well made and if you can get passed the lack of blood it is one heck of a slasher but when two of the main ingredients of making that genre successful are missing such as blood and boobs, You are bound to lose some of the desired audience. I do however feel this one is worth a watch for fans of the genre if only to prove it is not necessary to have such things in order to make a successful horror flick as sometimes the scenery and suspense can accomplish the same unsettling feel without going in for the shock and awe effect.

Fun Factor:5
Overall: 6.5 out of 10

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