Curtains Blu-Ray Review
Blu-Ray Review- Curtains
Distributor: Synapse Films
Street Date: July 29th 2014
Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, Color, 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio/Original 2.0 Mono
Runtime: 90 Minutes
After watching Curtains, I found myself thinking about how a film achieves cult status over time. If you do some research, you’ll find various definitions of the term cult classic, as well as various sub-types (“so bad it’s good”, camp, guilty pleasure). I believe that Curtains has gone from an obscure Canadian horror film to “cult classic worthy” based on the fascinating troubled production history and behind-the-scenes disputes, a fantastic ice-skating kill sequence, and one hell of a strangely creative execution. The film is part soap-opera, part slasher film, and all bizarre. Though Curtains wasn’t exactly up my alley, after a few days of mulling it over, I believe I finally understand the adoration from fans, though I still can’t conceive revisiting it again anytime soon. Perhaps that will change, and if it does, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve enjoyed a movie more the second time around.
In Curtains, we meet Samantha Sherwood (Samantha Egger), a seasoned actress of stage and screen who decides to commit herself to a mental asylum in preparation for the title role in Jonathan Stryker’s (John Vernon) upcoming film Audra. Jonathan and Samantha are romantically involved, and given the great lengths she goes to impress him for the part, the casting decision is a given as far as she’s concerned. Samantha is soon surprised to find out from a Variety column that Jonathan has invited several actresses to his secluded mansion to audition for the part, and she’s understandably furious.
The female contenders for the lead in Audra include a figure skater, a comedian, a musician, a dancer, and an actress. A wronged and bitter Samantha soon shows up at Stryker’s mansion as well, still eager to convince him that she was born for this role. As the women are put through various method acting challenges (including sleeping with Stryker, ha!), a killer in an old hag mask is stalking them one by one.
I found Curtains to be a mixed bag frankly, but I get the strange affection some seem to have for it. It has an amazing and unique ice skating murder sequence, a very creepy masked killer, an equally creepy doll, and soapy camp performances from everyone involved. Sound like fun? It did to me too, which is why I’m sad to say that it just didn’t live up to expectations. Though it does have some standout moments mentioned above, for the most part Curtains is an agonizingly slow and poorly edited film with so much wasted potential. I think the wasted potential is part of the fun for fans, as it just doesn’t “gel” even with all of the right pieces in place.
It goes to show how much Synapse truly cares about not only their product, but their fan-base, when they slightly delayed Curtains in early July to ensure that the transfer looked as good as it possibly could. Let me tell you folks, they knocked this one out of the park! Re-mastered from original vault materials in 2K resolution, Curtains has been given the deluxe treatment on Blu-Ray. Colors look very authentic to the time period, detail is surprisingly clear and vivid given the age, and fine natural film grain is thankfully present. Any anomalies that have appeared in previous DVD releases have also been removed. Simply put, Curtains looks fantastic in High Definition.
Synapse has graciously provided two separate audio options for fans of the film: the original 2.0 Mono track, as well as a newly created 5.1 DTS-HD mix. From Paul Zaza’s lovely and creepy score, to dialogue and suspense sequences, everything comes through beautifully on this track. There is some surprising dynamic range here, especially on the new 5.1 mix, with all channels utilized nicely, making for a balanced and pleasant audio presentation.
Synapse Films has included a solid array of bonus content for this Blu-Ray edition of Curtains. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:
- Audio Commentary– Stars Lesleh Donaldson and Lynne Griffin discuss the film after several years of avoiding it in this great commentary track moderated by Edwin Samuelson. Just like The Ultimate Nightmare documentary, this is fascinating stuff, and provides for a really fun and engaging listen for the viewer.
- Vintage Audio Interviews– These audio interviews play throughout the film when selected from the main menu under “setup”, and feature Producer Peter R. Simpson & Star Samantha Eggar discussing their contributions to the film. The audio is admittedly a little rough, but it works just fine.
- Ciupka: A Filmmaker in Transition- This vintage documentary runs about fifteen minutes and focuses on Director Richard Ciupka’s transition into the film industry. The feature starts directly after a quick prompt from Synapse regarding the image quality of the featurette. This piece is pretty by the numbers, but it’s a fun look at Ciupka’s rise at the time of production.
- The Ultimate Nightmare: The Making of Curtains– This is a brand new 35 minute documentary on the making of the film from Red Shirt Pictures and Synapse. Through interviews with Director Richard Ciupka and talent like Lesleh Donaldson among others, we get to hear about the troubled production of the film (re-shoots, creative spats, etc), the confused response of the cast and crew to the finished product, and the cult love that has developed over the years. This is extremely thoughtful and informative for both fans and non-fans of the film.
- Theatrical Trailer– This is a really fun vintage trailer, complete with the Jensen Farley Pictures logo, red screen “R” rating card, and cheesy 80’s voice over.
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Blu-Ray edition from Synapse films features the ultra-creepy original theatrical poster design for the film with the Special Edition banner across the top. On the reverse of the case you’ll find a detailed plot synopsis, a list of the fantastic bonus features, and technical specifications along with select production stills from the film. Inside the case there is a Blu-Ray disc with some nice artwork, and a background design featuring the classic ice skating scene from the film.
Though Curtains wasn’t my personal cup of tea, I do understand the adoration from fans. The film is part soap-opera, part slasher film, and all bizarre. For those that dig the Canadian cult classic, this Blu-Ray edition from Synapse Films is the definitive edition to own. Featuring a breathtaking 2K restoration, the picture quality is simply excellent, and both audio options provide for a dynamic catalog experience. The special features alone are worth a recommendation, proving excellent insight into the troubled production. Though I didn’t appreciate the film as much as some folks in the Horror community seem to, Synapse has put together a wonderful release here, and there is no denying their pure love for the genre and dedication to the format. Recommended.