Monday, October 24, 2011

31 Days Of 80's Movie Slashers: 10/24 - Curtains (1983)

Day Twenty-four:

Original Theatrical Release Date: March 4th 1983
DVD: Yes (a poorly transferred version is part of a 4 DVD pack called "The Midnight Horror Collection")

Plot: Six actresses vie for a part in a Movie from a lecherous Film Director at a secluded mansion. Someone sporting a hag mask decides to call the shots and cut their roles (and sometimes their heads) one by one.

It's Curtains For You, Kid. I like to say that a lot. Probably way too much. What am I, a 30's Gangster? That catchphrase is fairly appropriate for this Film. Never get in the way of an actress who will stop at nothing to obtain success. But hey, with sleazebags like Jonathan Stryker in this film as your Director, can you blame them? Still, offing the competition isn't exactly fair. How about, Break A Leg, Bitches! Now I have a new tagline for myself.

Curtains is a unique Slasher film for the era. It's focus is less on youth in Peril and more so on career minded/backstabbing adults with an emphasis on atmosphere and mystery. Plus, it has a really frickin' creepy doll. Who doesn't love a creepy doll in a Horror Movie?

Curtains has a couple of truly memorable set pieces. The most famous being the ice rink scene. Who can forget the mask. The slow motion. The terror!

You better run, Lesleh Donaldson. 
Drop the creepy carrie doll already and Ice Skate your ass away from the scythe wielding figure a with Hag mask.

Curtains also has a pretty game cast. In addition to the always wonderful Lesleh Donaldson, there's also Lynne Griffin (above photo) as Patti, a stand up comic trying to get her first big break. Samantha Eggar (Doctor Doolittle, The Collector, Slasher favorite Christopher George's main squeeze in The Exterminator) plays a leading role in the film and adds a classy vibe. John Vernon (Animal House) as the aforementioned sleazy Director Stryker is great as always and the rest of the girls, though in smaller roles, manage to bring their own charm. I'd imagine a modern remake of Curtains to be cast with only young, glossy Hollywood types and being given ONLY bitchy dialogue to work with (see the Sorority Row Remake). Thankfully Curtains gives it's characters at least something to work. You just can't have a Slasher Movie where everyone is exactly the same. You either end up not caring if they get killed off, or if they are just one note bitchy or obnoxious, you want them to die immediately and not think about them ever again.

Help me, help you hag!

Curtains is noted for having a troubled production. The Film had originally shot in 1980 and was shelved until it went through re-writes and re-shoots, with an eventual release in 1983. For more information about the Curtains production, please see the wonderful The Hysteria Lives Podcast which goes into more vivid details about this Film, including reviews from it's 4 Slasher Film hosts and experts and even interviews with members of the Production. You can find the podcast right here on iTunes. Just choose Episode #7 - Curtains

Even through it's plagued production, the end result here is a lot better than it has any right to be. Curtains is by far not a perfect film, some things don't come together as well as they should--For example, why not continue the creepy doll bit throughout the film? Still, I come back to it time and time because it has a quality that other Films of the era miss. There's is some solid craftmanship at work here, and as I mentioned earlier, a real atmosphere. Canadian Slasher Films of the time usually rose above the others because a lot of these Filmmakers didn't singularly focus on cheap shocks and gore. Storytelling is key to any kind of Film, and when a Slasher is filled with a sense of Mystery and dread, all the more better!

 Curl up on the couch in your best Flannel Pajamas (Canadian Horror is sure chilly!) and watch Curtains with your favorite diva, creepy doll or hag. You know you want to.


Head in the head.

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