The October Diaries: Curtains

Illustration by Max Brown
Blurbs by Sean & Christof

October 5th, 2015:

Year: 1983
Director: Richard Ciupka
Format: Blu-ray
From IMDB: Six young actresses auditioning for a movie role at a remote mansion are targeted by a mysterious masked murderer.
Taglines: Behind Every Curtain, Someone Is Watching…Something Is Waiting


Christof’s Take:

What I Liked:

The opening was one of the stronger ones of the month.

Had a great day-horror sequence. Not in terms of logic, but in terms of horror.

Lynne Griffin. Great to see her pop up in something, considering all I know her from is Strange Brew.

Strong cinematography and editing some of the time.

I really liked that the opening credits say the movie is directed by Jonathan Stryker, which is the name of the director in the movie. However, the film didn’t live up to the meta-cinematic implications of such a thing.

What I Didn’t Like:

I liked where the movie seemed to be going early on, but I did not particularly like where the movie went. It was a bit of a slog with few inspired moments, one of which was Lynne Griffin’s character delivering stand-up comedy. And it turns out she actually did stand-up live and they filmed it.

Final Thoughts:

The movie started down a path that made me think it was going to be more along the lines of Shock Corridor, because an actress gets herself committed into an institution to go method for a role, but this turned out to be more anecdotal to a less interesting plot and not the central concept. So I spent a lot of the movie wishing it was something else.

The ending had some merit, but the weird production history weighs the finished product down considerably.


Sean’s Take:

What I liked:

Some movies just feel like October. Curtains is some movies. Magic is still top dog for the time being but Curtains is the one I want to own on VHS the most. 

It was notable for its cast of well-drawn (at least, for the genre) female characters. Each one had a unique charm and talent. Oftentimes, they would get one good scene to showcase their skills before their inevitable wrestling match with masked death. Lynne Griffin (from Strange Brew) was the highlight. She has a quality that evokes Karen Allen. Her smile and eyes command the screen whenever she appears and, thankfully, she gets some of the meatier scenes. Her character has a background in comedy and her introductory scene, telling jokes at a comedy club (shtick she wrote herself) was surprisingly endearing.

My favorite moments were when all the women were on screen together. Their interactions were lively and brought the movie’s pulse up to speed (it was when they separated from one another that the slog came rolling in a little bit).

The ice-skate rink kill-flourish was truly captivating. The song (Save My Soul by Burton Cummings — listen while you read) that accompanied one of the actresses practicing her ice-skating routine was an inspired choice. It amplified the imminent dread with a mellow beauty. The killer ice-skating with a banshee mask toward our ice-skater was the pinnacle moment of the movie.

Second October entry in a row to feature an audition process (not to mention a manipulative, sleazy, director character). The role of Audra in the movie being cast, the role all the characters covet, is a welcome bit of ambiguous, mythic, characterization we grow to meet through each character’s interpretation and understanding of her.

What I didn’t like:

That the original director didn’t get the chance to finish the film (he removed his name from the final product, instead cheekily replacing it with the name of the fictional director within the film). Reading about this production turmoil (and watching the featurettes on the Blu-ray) help me understand why the finished product ended up feeling so uneven. There were years of re-shoots and re-writes that morphed whatever initial kernel into a slightly burnt piece of popcorn horror.

Final thoughts:

I probably enjoyed this one more than anyone else in the room and, as much as I enjoyed it, I wish we could’ve seen a version with a more coherent vision behind it. Still, if anyone has a copy on VHS let me know.




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