Director – Richard Ciupka
Cast – John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, Linda Thorson, Anne Ditchburn, Lynne Griffin, Sandie Currie, Lesleh Donaldson, Deborah Burgess, Michael Wincott
Release Year – 1983
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Curtains is a film I had been meaning to get to for a long, long time. 80s slasher films are my favorites to watch for nostalgia’s sake, and Curtains is one of the few notable ones I had yet to see. So what makes this such an attractive film? One thing and one thing only: the killer wears a creepy mask of an old lady. This may not seem special, but this tactic is well-executed. I remember seeing clips of the killer stalking their victims and instantly adding this to my queue. After viewing this piece I can say that the killer lives up to the hype. There are some faults with this piece, but overall this is an enjoyable 80s slasher that must be seen.
To find the perfect lead for his next film, a prestigious director invites six actresses to audition at his remote mansion, where they are targeted by a masked killer.
I liked this concept as it gives us at least a half dozen victims (there are more) and the location provides a nowhere-to-run scenario. Producer Peter R. Simpson, fresh off the success of Prom Night, chose to give fans a different take on the slasher scene. Instead of using teens and teenage themes he gives us a group of adults and I was appreciative of that. The opening scenes move a bit slow, giving us some backstory on the history behind the director and his former lead actress. Once they get to the director’s home things kick into gear, and the first kill appears about 26 minutes into the film. The setup to this kill is great and expertly executed. I would say that this setup has to be one of the slasher sub-genre’s most memorable. The kills continue on at a good pace, occurring about every 20 minutes or so until things get crazier in the third act. This story does well in keeping things interesting and had me guessing until the bitter end for who the killer could be. It’s climax is a clever shocker that left me satisfied.
The direction from Richard Ciupka and producer Peter Simpson is solid, succeeding on multiple fronts. So the producer also directed? Yes. Long story short, Ciupka was unhappy with the tone and left halfway through filming and Simpson took over. Anyway, I loved the atmosphere. After the opening sequences the rest of the film takes place at the large mansion. This home is adorned with creepy corridors, long shadows, and some interesting movie props that added to the spooks. Of course, the biggest selling point is the killer. Namely, how the killer was used. I loved the mask this killer wore and it made for a truly creepy antagonist. The buildup to the kills is phenomenal, with some of them coming as real shockers. I only have one gripe with these kills, and it is that most of them keep key elements offscreen. While we see the person die, we don’t see the weapon very much. This is not a major fault though, as the direction allowed the kills to still be effective. Of course, I would have enjoyed the film more had there been more shown onscreen. Despite what I feel was a good directing gig, Richard Ciupka leaving the film may have held it back from being even better. Don’t let that turn you away though. This is a must-watch cult slasher film for fans of the sub-genre.
Overall, Curtains is a good but admittedly flawed slasher experience. Slasher fans should find enough joy in this thanks to good atmosphere and a fantastic killer.
ALL NAMES, TRADEMARKS AND IMAGES ARE COPYRIGHT THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS.