Was it fate, or just dumb luck that helped me stumble across this obscure 1983 Canadian slasher. It was about six years ago while searching the net for lesser known ‘80s slasher movies when I came across an interesting article (found here) for a movie I had never heard of, but whose concept instantly intrigued me. The reviewer who was a long time fan of the movie – even his pen name was Stryker - was desperate for the film to receive a proper long overdue re-release. You see at the time this little horror gem had like so many other movies become lost in the void from VHS to DVD, with neither a release date, or a disturber hinted at for the near future.
A notoriously troubled production that involved cast changes and rewrites, the film took nearly three years to complete its production. Only recently producer Peter Simpson ('Prom Night') gave an exclusive interview to Terrortrap.com, where he revealed the myriad of problems that plagued the films production. Simpson claimed to have shot almost half of the movie, after original directer Richard Ciupka walked off the set. Simpson said he filmed many of the integral scenes in the movie, from the famous daylight 'ice skating' murder scene on the frozen pond, to the excellent prop house chase sequence. Admitting that Ciupka only filmed the interior scenes, such as the intense auditions that take place in the house. This melding of two directorial styles becomes apparent the more you watch the movie. Creating a sort of off-kilter, schizophrenic feel to the film, as slight differences become clear from one shot to another. Instead of this being a hindrance, I think it gives 'Curtains' a weird sort of charm, as if two minds are at constantly apposing, leaving the viewer unsure of what to expect from one scene to another. Released at the heart of 'stalk and slash' influx in 1983, it seems strange slasher hungry audiences didn't take to the movie. On paper it appears to have every element a 'slash fan' could want, from the mask wearing killer, to the bevy of 'Scream Queen' stars. The only assumption I can make is that by the time it was finally released, audiences had become more accustomed to ever more extravagantly gory slasher movies. While the murders in 'Curtains' are creepy and nerve inducing, they certainly aren’t violent, save for a toilet in a head moment.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of 'Curtains' is the wonderful cast of bitchy, back stabbing actresses vying for the callous affection of the tyrannical, William Stryker. The talented Samantha Eggar ('The Brood') gives the movie a lofty credibly with her committed turn as the wronged Samantha Sherwood. Also on top form is Lynne Griffiths as stand up comedian Patti, Lynne famously played the the 'bag over the head' victim from Bob Clark's seminal 'proto-slasher,' 'Black Christmas'. Playing the rest of the doomed actresses are slasher alumni, Sandee Currie, as seen in 'Terror Train', and 'Lesleh Donaldson', who is recognisable from, 'Funeral Home' and 'Happy Birthday To Me'. Last, but certainly not least, is the immensely talented John Vernon (Animal House), who steals the movie as the controlling misogynistic, Stryker.