The 1983 film Curtains is very much a lost classic of the ‘80s. It is a bit bizarre and a little unorthodox for a slasher movie but it does still cling to many of the horror film tropes fans have come to know and love. The film revolves around a director that holds an audition for a coveted film role at his mansion. Once the ladies he has selected to audition arrive, there is conflict amongst them but the bickering soon escalates to murder. At this point, the film becomes somewhat like a giallo-inspired, whodunit slasher.
One of the things the film succeeds brilliantly at is cinematography. The ice skating scene is brilliantly filmed and much more artistic than what is common to a low-budget slasher film.
Another strong point of Curtains is its decision to use such an unusual and memorable mask for the killer to wear. The hag mask is kind of brilliant and totally scary looking.
The casting is pretty impressive: The film secured John Vernon (Dirty Harry), Lynn Griffin (Black Christmas), and Samantha Eggar (The Brood). But in spite of good casting, performance-wise, the viewer gets what they would expect from low-budget horror feature. Some of the performances are fair, some of them are below average, and others are way too hammed up. None of the players are so bad as to render the film unwatchable, though.
The effects are ok; they aren’t anything exceptional. Some of the deaths were likely toned down due to budgetary limitations but they still get the job done. Most of the magic of Curtains lies in what the viewer does not see, anyway. The film is heavy on atmosphere and builds somewhat of a claustrophobic vibe with all of the characters trapped in a house together. The tone of the film is unsettling from start to finish. The score, cinematography, and editing make for a very high level of ambiance throughout.
Curtains is often overlooked when the conversation turns to slasher films. It wasn’t available on DVD for a very long time and currently, it is only available as part of a 4-pack with three other titles that aren’t worth your time. The good news is that Synapse has secured distribution rights to the picture and gotten ahold of the original print. They have painstakingly restored the film frame-by-frame and will be releasing it on Blu-ray shortly.
If you have managed to overlook Curtains, this film is a must watch for horror fans. This feature’s creativity and clever camerawork, alone, make it worth seeing. The Blu-ray is now available for preorder and will be released July 8th of 2014.
Director(s): Richard Ciupka
Writer(s): Robert Guza Jr.
Stars: John Vernon, Linda Thorson, Samantha Eggar
Studio/ Production Co: Jensen Farley Pictures
Budget: $3.7 Million (Estimated)
Length: 89 Minutes