BY TIFFANY SCIACCA
First off, I cannot believe I even typed that headline as I generally loathe the remakes. Especially the ones made just to turn a quick profit, or because the filmmakers believe adding tons of CGI will make it better or even better, those that take a perfectly good story and muck it up. I am looking at you Prom Night, The Fog, Carrie (twice!). But enough of that old chestnut though. Curtains, although one of my favorite Slasher films, I believe is the perfect candidate for a remake. Why you ask? Hear me out:
1. The lineup is 99% female.
Although Curtains misses one mark on The Bechdel Test, but blows the main two out of the water. We have six female characters that share conversation and have different backgrounds and careers:
The Ice Skater
The Ballet Dancer
The original starred Canadian talents John Vernon, Samantha Eggar, Linda Thorson, Lynne Griffin, Anne Ditchburn and Lesleh Donaldson. Based on this set up alone, the remake can highlight American actors or an interesting mix. Helen Mirren? Viola Davis? Breeda Wool? Keke Palmer?
2. Enough time has passed.
Curtains, directed by Richard Ciupka, had a release in the U.S. in 1983 and the following year in Canada.
3. It has a cult following.
Curtains did poorly when first released probably due to the fact the director and the producer had vastly different visions for the project. Richard Ciupka wanted to do more of an Art House thriller and the producer, Peter R. Simpson, wanted to do a slasher film à la Prom Night which was a hit that year (1980).
However, when re-released on Blu-ray in 2014 it received positive reviews that only leaned negative in regards to bad editing and the story was not fully developed. Did I mention that due to the creative differences, Ciupka left the film with only 45 minutes shot and Simpson had to finish shooting the film? Sounds like remake material to me!
4. The remake is doable on a small budget.
This would be a great debut film for a first time director as most of the film takes place in an old mansion. There are plenty of those strewn about. Hell, I will be your location scout and you can pay me in swag and a small, small cameo. A non-speaking role preferably as I am painfully introverted. Also, the kills are mostly low key, save the famous ice skating scene, so no over the top special effects are needed and with a cast of 11 and a solid story, you could pitch this in the dark. I also would not mind if a well known director such as Karyn Kusama (I loved The Invitation!) or John Carpenter (Am I the only one who enjoyed The Ward?) gave it a go.
Curtains seamlessly crosses most genres: Horror/Giallo, Suspense, Black Comedy, Mystery, Cult, and even Art Film. It is also the perfect vehicle for both established actors and newcomers.
Anne Ditchburn was primarily a ballet dancer, which she played in Curtains and had only one film under her belt at the time of filming. The film was Slow Dancing and in it, she played a "seriously ill" ballerina.
6. It is a great atmospheric AKA creepy story.
Samantha Sherwood played by Samantha Eggar is an actor who buys the rights to a famous story for her boyfriend/director Jonathan Stryker under the understanding that she will play the lead role. Wanting to show her talent, she has herself committed to an asylum to get into her role. Unsurprisingly, Stryker leaves her there and then sets up an audition for five younger women. This audition is in a remote setting in the dead of winter. You have six actors under tremendous pressure to land this coveted role. They are pit against each other and manipulated by Stryker, whose character was fashioned on Klaus Kinski. Oh, did I mention that Samantha escapes and that someone in a creepy, creepy mask is taking them out one by one?
7. The mask.
Jason has his hockey mask.
Michael Myers has his Captain Kirk death mask.
Kenny Hampson had his Groucho Marx mask.
And the killer from Curtains has this:
Fortunately, most of the actors are still alive and well known in the horror genre: Samantha Eggar starred in The Brood, Lynne Griffin in Black Christmas, Lesleh Donaldson in Happy Birthday to Me and Sandee Currie was in Terror Train.
9. It is timely.
This may be good or bad. I was leaning towards the latter as I typed up #7, but I am standing by my list. In light of the HW scandal, by which just the existence of this movie shows, has been a decades long terror, this would be a good way for Hollywood to shine a spotlight on this blight of the industry. Just like in the real world, two of the women succumb to his pressure (the reasons are shown in the film, though a back-story is missing for one) and another woman counters "I’m not going to pirouette on your face." John Vernon’s character Stryker is a power hungry dirt bag that makes no qualms about who he is which of course makes his comeuppance all the sweeter.
Curtains was far from perfect but that is why I think it is remake material. More meat can be added to the characters, scenes shot and dropped and a lot of back-story that was omitted and thus can be added back or changed to suit a better vision. So quick, hash tag #CurtainsRemake and tweet the hell out of this article. Horror fans will thank you!
Tiffany Sciacca has recently moved to Sicily from the Midwest. Her work has appeared in the Silver Birch Press. When she is not tripping over new words or avoiding curious stares, she reads horror anthologies, watches Nordic Noir, and of course, writes poetry.