Curtains (1983)


In order to prepare for the starring role in her director husband’s (John Vernon, The Outlaw Josey Wales) next movie, an actress (Samantha Eggar, The Collector) fakes mental illness to enter a Psychiatric Hospital. However, the experience disturbs the actress for real, and her husband is forced to look for another person to star in his movie. Soon enough, someone begins killing the actors auditioning for the role.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“Is this your idea of a casting session?”

 All About Eve meets Friday the 13th. While admittedly a bit shoddy and sketchy, Curtains is nevertheless an entertaining, sometimes scary slasher film. It’s an okay movie for undemanding viewers who are just looking to have a spooky-good-time.

Filmed in Canada on a small budget, Curtains deserves some brownie points for attempting to subvert worn-out genre tropes. Since slasher movies have often been accused of sexism, it’s interesting to see one that’s female-forward. The killer and most of the victims are women (I’m not giving any secrets away) and this makes Curtains a curious entry into the killer-on-loose canon.

I also liked the fact that Curtains deals with the world of show-business. They say some “actors will kill for a great role” and this movie takes the old saying literally! It’s too bad that the film is so clumsily put together. Suspense is like a melody; it has to have a certain rhythm, a sort of built-in crescendo. Curtains has a few undeniably good moments, but the film lacks energy and cohesion.

Perhaps some of these problems can be attributed to the fact that the movie faced endless production difficulties (it took nearly three years to complete the film). Having said all that, Curtains is, at times, darn scary — the killer wears a really terrifying mask! — and the murder-set-pieces are relatively well-staged. 

Curtains has a surprisingly solid cast. Character actor John Vernon hams it up beautifully as a temperamental filmmaker. Samantha Eggar’s multi-layered characterization makes you forget that you are watching a piece of schlock. Cult Canadian actress Lesleh Donaldson (Funeral Home) plays a professional skater and aspiring young actor — Donaldson has the best death scene in the movie.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

I would have loved to say that I found a little gem, but that is not the case. While I can’t give Curtains “thumps up,” fans of the slasher subgenre should make sure to check out this clunky but entertaining horror movie — it’s a flawed but creepy little film that offers new twists to a familiar formula. Color, 89 minutes, Rated R.


15 responses to “Curtains (1983)

  1. I love this blog…there’s always something new that I haven’t heard of before. Even when it’s not a glowing review like this, it’s always well-written and enjoyable to read. Thank you 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Curtains was the third occasion where I could see what an impressive actor John Vernon was. The first two were an episode of Quincy M.E. and National Lampoon’s Animal House.

    Liked by 2 people

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