Curtains (1983)


Curtains has been on many many wish lists over the last 15 years, since DVDs became widely available. Every year one horror magazine or another puts out a top 10 list of forgotten or lost films that have yet to make the jump to dvd. Curtains is almost always on those lists. Many people grew up watching it on HBO or renting it on a poorly dubbed vhs tape from their local mom & pop shop because the movie tanked and was a cheap grab for cable or video stores. I did not grow up watching it and have no nostalgic feelings for it at all. I was, however, super excited to get the film knowing the great care that Synapse puts into their releases. Did it live up to the hype?

Curtains is about a group of actresses all vying for the same role in a stage play put on by a well respected theater director. They are asked up to a secluded house to spend a weekend trying out for the role with the director. Then, people start dying left and right. Or at least that’s one version of the film anyway.

You see the film has a troubled back story. The film was originally directed to be an art house exploration of character and insanity but the producers couldn’t use that to sell the film, nor did they have enough footage to complete the film. The producer then gathered the actresses and re-shot at least 50% of the film, turning it into a slasher flick. Some of the film is artfully shot, some of it is quick and dirty. Some of it has some great slasher tropes, some of it has lots and lots of dialogue. John Vernon does a great job of delivering said dialogue as the domineering theater director. Both films would have been great on their own, but together the film feels a bit like a hodge podge. If it’s a slasher, its a decent entry into the genre, with just enough slashing to satisfy. If it’s an art film, it’s got too much slashing to take it too seriously.

The film looks and sounds great, as I knew it would. Synapse releases are always up to snuff quality wise. The print is clean and clear, with no obvious damage to the print. The source material was great here and they did an excellent job of maintaining the look of a film from ’83. Some blu-ray releases, looks smeared and scrubbed but this release maintains its film grain look. The Blu also comes with a great 35 minute featurette that explains all about the troubled production of the film with interviews with the original director and actors from the film as well as the film’s editor. It also has a vintage feature and audio commentary as well as audio interviews. The release is packed with great supplementals.

If you grew up watching Curtains, you couldn’t ask for a better release. If you’re a slasher or Canadian horror completist, this is also a solid buy. For the rest of us, it’s really up to you. The film isn’t a forgotten classic or hidden gem. It’s got great performances from the actors, and a handful of good slasher scenes but overall I felt it was just OK. It’s clear there was talent behind the film and wasn’t just a cheap cash in. It didn’t blow my socks off but it didn’t bore me either.