Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Curtains

(1983) ***

If I've had any kind of theme this year, it's been flicks that I've tracked down based on my own vague and misty memories from what counts for me as a distant past. Curtains hails from a time when obscure slasher movies ran like gushing streams through the sylvan forests of late night cable TV. My memories of it are fond ones, and it turns out deservedly so.

The movie opens with totally awesome movie director Jonathan Stryker, played by the jerk dean from Animal House, being a total jerk. Well, not right away, but you know it's coming. That fucking guy put Delta House on Double Secret Probation!

Stryker and his favorite actress Samantha Sherwood hatch a plan whereby she will fake mental instability and be committed in order to get authentic perspective for an insane character named Audra. Can you think of anything dumber than pretending to attempt stabbing someone while in the office of the head of a lunatic asylum? Me neither.

Naturally Stryker decides the whole "she's old and washed up and she can't handle it so she's in the booby hatch" idea works just fine for him as a non-hoax. He ditches Samantha and holds an exclusive Audra casting session at his estate in the wintery countryside. Samantha reads about it in Variety, because of course if you're a director at the top of your game you don't pass up an opportunity to announce in print that you're going to bang at least three different chicks this coming weekend.

Samantha effortlessly escapes in a scene we don't even see, and soon afterwards somebody starts picking off the short list of actresses invited to Stryker's, sporting a genuinely creepy old hag mask. Also deployed is the unlikely prop of the saddest doll ever made, although it has no practical or thematic relevance to any of the murders. It's just spooky as hell, to a degree not captured by the poster above. Any little girl who looked upon it would instantly start crying.

Tonya Harding decides to get her hands dirty this time

According to Wikipedia, word-of-mouth among horror fans has boosted Curtains from a forgettable Canadian slasher film (is there any other kind?) to something of a cult hit. The ice-skating chase scene is cited as the movie's peak, and it certainly holds itself up. Managing to be scary on a glaringly bright winter morning is no mean feat.

While it doesn't hold back on the standard-issue goofy stuff, this is a worthwhile addition to any Horrorthonner's personal viewing roster. The writing, characters and plot all hold up admirably for such a withered old hag.

Wait! I didn't mean it!

Fuck, everybody run! No time for skates!


8 comments:

Catfreeek said...

Aaaw, this one isn't in Netflix. Sounds great and I do vaguely remember this myself. That hag face is really creepy.

DCD said...

I must have seen this because I totally remember that hag mask.

Octopunk said...

This was yet another find at my local obscure video store (on VHS, no less). But according to Wiki: "The film was finally released on DVD on October 5, 2010 by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, as part of the Midnight Horror Collection: Bloody Slashers DVD collection, which also includes Secrets of the Clown, Hoboken Hollow and Room 33."

I hope that dvd set makes its way to Netflix or some 'thonner's collection.

And is it my imagination or is the population of our masthead image growing? I don't recall seeing Mr. Head of the Family in there before last night.

JPX said...

Hooray, Octo is back! I'm happy you were able to finally view this film as I know you have wanted to check it out for a while. Last year I chose movies from the 80s that I had never seen that had intriguing movie posters. Excellent and funny summary.

You rated this slight higher than me (inter-rater reliability, be damned!). I re-read my review to jar my memory and I stumbled across this line, "My favorite moment occurred when one of the actresses fell out of a second story window into the first story window directly below (?)."

Catfreeek, if you search online you can find this film to stream, which is how I watched it last year.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Now that there is a DAMN fine poster. Great review Octo! I love your enthusiasm. And yes, I’m in the middle of adding more icons on the banner.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I just re-read JPX & Octo's reviews of Head of the Family and I've been chuckling all day. I want to see it again so bad!

Trevor (Tami's friend) said...

That mask is wonderfully creepy. Although, now I realize that Ben Affleck in The Town was really just trying to copy, Curtains.

Whirlygirl said...

Haha that totally resembles Tanya Harding. This sound like a fun one...I should see if my video store has it.