After the box office success of Prom Night, producer Peter R. Simpson wanted to create an “adult” slasher. After three troubled years, he had this film, which didn’t do all that well with audiences or critics. That said — after years of cable viewing and even more years where the film wasn’t available on DVD, it’s become something of a cult classic.

Samantha Sherwood (Samantha Eggar, Welcome to Blood CityThe BroodAll the Kind Strangers) commits herself to an asylum so that she can prepare for the role of her lifetime: Audra. Yet once inside, she learns that her director and lover Johnathan Stryker (John Vernon, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Animal House) has actually left her there to rot.

That’s because a whole new group of young girls are about to audition for the role. Like Amanda, who has a dream that she sees a large doll in the road. When she goes to get it, she’s run over. And when she wakes up, a killer in an old hag mask stabs her and steals the doll. 

The five remaining girls show up to audition for Stryker at his mansion: Patti (Lynne Griffin, Strange Brew and Black Christmas, two of the most Canadian movies ever), a stand-up comedian. Brooke (Linda Thorson, Tara King from TV’s The Avengers), an actress. Laurian, a ballet dancer. Tara, a musician. And Christie (Lesleh Donaldson, Canada’s top screen queen, thanks to roles in Happy Birthday to MeDeadly Eyes and Funeral Home), an ice skater. And then Samantha shows up!

The first night everyone is in the house, Tara and Matt, the caretaker, hook up in a jacuzzi. So does Christie and Stryker, but she pays in the price in the film’s best scene when she gets her throat cut while ice skating. Her head ends up in a toilet bowl, which is pretty shocking even for a slasher, and Brooke freaks out upon finding it. So of course, Stryker hooks up with her.

All Laurian wants to do is dance, so she gets stabbed. And while Brooke is banging Stryker, they’re both shot and killed, falling down through a window. Tara runs from the mansion and finds Matthews body in the jacuzzi. Even though she escapes the killer three times, the fourth time is never the charm because things don’t work in fours. She is dragged into a ventilation shaft and killed.

Samantha and Patti celebrate with a toast, as Samantha tells her about killing Stryker and Brook. Patti is shocked and reveals that she is the killer, then murders Samantha. We cut to her in a mental asylum where she acts out the film for the other inmates.

Lynne Griffin recalls filming an alternate ending where Patti would read a monologue to all of her victims while on stage. It was rejected, yet another issue in a production so tenuous that director Richard Ciupka has his name listed as Jonathan Stryker in the credits. Yes, the same person who is in this movie as the director.

To be fair: this movie is a mess. It barely came together and while there are moments of suspense and one great kill, it’s amazing that it came together to be a barely coherent movie at all.

After years of waiting and one multipack release with a bad transfer, Synapse finally released this on DVD and blu-ray. You can get it at Diabolik DVD. Or watch it for free or Amazon Prime.

5 thoughts on “NORTH OF THE BORDER HORROR: Curtains (1983)

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