Before you delve into this review, be sure to take a look at the rest of the Halloween marathon!
Beginning principal photography November of 1980, before eventually being released March 1983, it’s safe to say Curtains is up there with some of the most troubled productions of all time.
Reshoots, rewrites, a production length of three years and the director detaching his name from the movie altogether – it’s easy to see why this would overshadow the film’s genuine quality. Something Curtains definitely has.
It opens with director Jonathan Stryker sanctioning his long-time muse Samantha Sherwood into a mental institution. This is something that’s soon revealed to be a ruse for Samantha to ‘go method’ for a role in Stryker’s next film. However, in true movie villain brilliance, it’s shown that Stryker intends to keep her there to cast someone else in her role to get through production without her backlash. Truly evil.
As Stryker selects six actresses to come to his mansion for auditions, Samantha gets her self out of the institution and arrives shortly after, inserting herself into the casting process. Soon after, the actresses begin to be killed off one by one by a masked killer. There is a lot there, especially when the subplots come into play, but it’s brilliant if you’re into that.
However, Curtains does have its problems. To overlook them would be near impossible due to the production woes it went through, but for the most part they don’t hold the film back all too much. Thankfully for Curtains, its biggest problem comes from the work of the movie’s boom operator(s). Not only is the boom mic yellow (yes, really) but it’s visible in damn near every shot. Or so it seems.
Perhaps the most visible problem (besides the boom) is the restoration of the movie itself – seemingly restored straight from a VHS copy. It can give the film charm at points, due to its genre and the decade in which it was released, but it can also restrict what’s happening on screen.
To an extent, these problems are almost a blessing to the film – they’re so visibly wrong that it distracts the audience from some larger problems.
As for the killer, it’s honestly surprising the mask used isn’t more iconic. Similar to the mask of Michael Myers, it’s simple but extremely creepy because of that. The killer isn’t the strongest horror movie villain out there due to many twists and turns the movie attempts, but ultimately still leaves a mark and gets some good kills in.
But when the kills aren’t on display, the work revolving around the characters is pretty well done, most notably in the character of Stryker who, despite not being the obvious villain, is one of the most despicable characters put to screen. His actions against Samantha spell pure evil as well as his actions against the other woman of the house, whom he manipulates mainly for sex. A character you just can’t wait to be killed off.
The writing is a little hammy in parts and the ending seems to be the result of trying anything to be fresh and new, however, this can all be related to the rewrites that plagued the production.
Overall, Curtains is an extremely underrated horror movie, one that deserves praise in spite of its many flaws – a cult classic for every horror fan to check out.
Rating = 4/5