Thursday, July 24, 2014

Curtains (Blu-ray Review) - Synapse Films

Directed By: Richard Ciupka
Written By: Robert Guza Jr.
Starring: John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, Linda Thorson
Color/90 Minutes/R
Region A
Release Date: July 29, 2014

The Film
Director Johnathan Stryker (John Vernon) wants to make a film called "Audra" and he and his leading lady Samantha Sherwood (Samantha Eggar) concoct a plan to have her put in a mental asylum for a short stay as a patient to prepare for the role. Stryker seemingly moves on from Sherwood who has to break out of the asylum on her own. Stryker hosts a group of actresses, including Sherwood at his home to audition for the part in "Audra". Shortly after the actresses start missing and getting killed by a psycho wearing a disturbing mask.

CURTAINS had a very troubled production. From director Richard Ciupka hoping to get fired off the project (his debut as a director) to extensive re-shoots happening almost two years after principal photography was completed that ended up replacing about a third of Ciupka's film. The producer wanted a cheap and easy slasher film and Ciupka had ideas about a psychological thriller/horror film. The final product is a weird mishmash of both ideas that somehow comes together and works for an entertaining film even if some of it just simply doesn't make sense.

While CURTAINS is messy because of the production troubles there are a couple of really great scenes including the ice skating scene and the final sequence taking up about the last 15 minutes of the film. They're filmed beautifully and make CURTAINS worth checking out on their merit alone. CURTAINS has long been an oddity that you've only been able to see on poor quality VHS and bootlegs on the convention circuit, not anymore. This release is what the actresses involved feared! We're going to see it and hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

The Audio & Video
There's good reason when Synapse Films delays a release even for only a few weeks. They're making sure the film looks and sounds as good as it can. There's a reason they could be crowned kings of the cult home video market. They just plain get it. And their new Special Edition Blu-ray of CURTAINS proves it again. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer got a new 2K scan from the original vault materials and it shines. Colors are vibrant and pop just a bit. Skin tones show look fleshy and natural. The picture quality is very sharp and has a light layer of grain that keeps the feel of the film photography. There a newly mixed 5.1 DTS-HDMA track and the original 2.0 Mono mix for HD and overall sound quality is excellent. Its a crisp track with no background noise and an excellent mix. I love the ice skating scene where score gets bumped to the forefront but we can still hear the skate scraping against the ice as the girl moves along. This is just a fantastic job.

The Extras
The Blu-ray features quite a few quality special features including:
-"The Ultimate Nightmare: The Making of CURTAINS" - An all new 2014 retrospective that runs over 35 minutes and documents the film's conception to theatrical release and subsequent status as a cult favorite
-"Ciupka - A Filmmaker In Transition" (Blu-ray Exclusive) - A vintage behind-the-scenes documentary on Richard Ciupka that was filmed during the production of CURTAINS
-Audio commentary track with stars Lesleh Donaldson and Lynne Griffin
-Alternate audio track with vintage audio interviews with producer Peter R. Simpson and star Samantha Eggar
-Theatrical trailer

The Bottom Line
The back cover of this release has a quote that calls CURTAINS a "Must see for slasher completists". I'll go a step farther and say that if you're even the slightest fan of slasher films you'll want to see CURTAINS it is weird, a bit disturbing and totally endearing. If Synapse Films had rushed the release and given us a bare bones release with just a passable transfer it would still be a revelation for this film and I'm sure fans would be satisfied with it but the fact that they went the extra mile and gave CURTAINS a very nice selection of special features and a brilliant A/V presentation is just awesome. The wait for CURTAINS is over and it was worth it.

CURTAINS is available HERE

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