Cast: Samantha Eggar, John Vernon, Linda Thorson
Director: Johnathan Stryker (Richard Ciupka)
Nutshell: Deadly masked killer takes to a group of six auditioning actresses.
“irritating” – Creature Features
“incomprehensible mess” – Splatter Movies
“badly conceived and executed” – Maltin
“pretentious and tiresome” – Slasher Movies – Mark Whitehead
Another one of the wave of slasher films that proliferated in the early to mid 80’s – this one arrived as the masked killer genre was already straining to sustain itself having provided a massive overdose to audiences in recent times. There had been a glut of masked killer slasher movies in the wake of Halloween and Friday the 13th’s massive success but by the time this Canadian entry arrived, the genre had passed its sell by date.
Curtains arrived and vanished into history as a totally unmemorable slasher entry with very little to offer at all that may be of any interest. It is a dreary, by numbers effort with little style, no wit and zero tension and scares. The film’s only purpose now is to serve as a reminder as to how and why the slasher genre killed itself with regurgitating the same kind of plot and theme again and again ad nauseum. Films like this desperately sorry entry explain exactly why the slasher film died out almost as quickly as it emerged as they are simply re-runs of past efforts and smack of extreme staleness, and the element of shock upon which these films rely so heavily is no longer effective as audiences now already know the tricks of the trade having already seen countless slasher films before this one.
This particularly dull effort involves an ageing actress who is desperate to win the coveted role of the deranged murderess Audra, an upcoming Hollywood film. She is so determined to win this role that despite her advancing age which counts heavily against her, the actress (Samantha Eggar) even gets herself committed to an asylum so that she can get to understand the mind of the insane Audra better. Her director husband sneakily decides to cast for Audra while poor Ms. Eggar is languishing in the asylum, something which doesn’t please her at all, so she decides to escape and attend the audition sessions anyway. Meanwhile the director Johnathan Stryker summons a group of six aspiring young actresses to a remote, snow-bound, country retreat where he will “examine” the group for the weekend before deciding on who to sign for the role of Audra. One of the aspirants is stalked by a figure wearing the mask of a hideous hag and hacked to death even before she reaches her audition, so conveniently Ms. Eggar takes her place as the sixth potential Audra.
One by one the masked stalker tracks down each of the young actresses and does away with her in an assortment of brutal methods, often leaving a signature plastic doll by her victims. One is slashed with a scythe while ice skating, another has her neck slashed and others are hacked and stabbed in a variety of manners while others are lacerated with shards of glass. There is little character development along the way and the audience if still awake by the climax is least bothered about which bimbo gets offed by the masked knife wielder next. In fact, one hopes that the maniac will get his carving out of the way so that the film can come to its wretched conclusion and we can, in true Scooby Doo style, finally find out who the awful masked nasty really was. And of course having built up the obvious person to be the killer, the audience suddenly has the rug pulled from beneath their feet with the revelation that it wasn’t the person we all thought it was, but someone we were least expecting!
By that time, most of the audience should be fast asleep or beyond caring and only hardcore genre fanatics – mostly semi-deranged people with severe personality disorders – will be bothered to watch till the very end and collectively groan at the totally implausible revelation. This turgid, boring film with a plot beyond threadbare is exactly why our beloved slasher genre died out so rapidly and by the mid 80’s Freddy’s reality bending antics had upstaged the masked lunatic for the next decade to come. Curtains has nothing to recommend it, though if one is to be effusive with ones generosity then at least the killer’s mask ought to be praised for being suitable hideous (we’ve always been sucker’s for a good killers mask however awful the movie) and also the one scene where the killer goes ice skating for a victim is remotely well presented and the very image of this hideous figure gliding towards a victim, scythe raised to strike – is a memorable one. Nothing else about the movie other than how tedious it is was ought be worth keeping in memory. No wonder the director hid his real name when it came to the films credits!