Samantha Sherwood – a beautiful actress and muse for director Jonathan Stryker – has herself committed to an asylum as a preparation for the titular role of a mentally unstable woman in a film called “Audra”. Once inside, she finds out that Stryker has left her there alone and lets a group of young girls audition for the role of Audra instead. Furious at being double-crossed, she escapes the asylum to seek revenge.
One of the candidates – fledgling actress Amanda Teuther – has a weird dream. While driving to the audition, she spots a large doll in the middle of the road. When she leaves her car to move it, it grabs her hand as someone gets in her car and runs over her. After she wakes up from her dream, a killer in a hag mask stabs her to death and takes her doll.
The next day, the other five women auditioning for the part of Audra arrive at Stryker’s mansion: comedian Patti O’Connor, veteran actress Brooke Parsons, ballet dancer Laurian Summers, musician Tara DeMillo and professional ice skater Christie Burns. There is a caretaker named Matthew. Samantha – the uninvited guest – appears at the house during dinner. The girls spend their first night getting to know each other. Tara has sex with Matthew in a jacuzzi as Stryker seduces Christie. Then, an unseen figure enters the tool shed, grabs a sickle and sharpens it.
The next morning, Christie goes to a nearby pond for ice skating. She notices a small hand protruding out of the snow and uncovers a doll. The masked killer with the sickle appears and attacks Christie. After a long chase, the killer catches her and slices her throat.
Later that day, a drunk Matthew rides away on a snowmobile, looking for Christie. Patti is given an impromptu audition with Stryker and nearly explodes with anger. While Tara and Laurian are practicing, Brooke discovers Christie’s severed head in a toilet bowl. She frantically informs Stryker of what she has seen, but when they go back to the bathroom, the toilet is empty. Exploiting Brooke’s vulnerability, Stryker seduces the frightened actress. Meanwhile, Tara and Patti ponder Brooke’s reason for claiming that Christie is dead, suspecting foul play. Later on, while Laurian is dancing in her room upstairs, the killer sneaks in and stabs her to death.
After having sex, Brooke and Stryker are both shot dead by a figure in a robe. They fall from the second floor, with Stryker’s body crashing through a window downstairs. Terrified, Tara flees the mansion. Running past Matthew’s corpse in the jacuzzi, Tara is then chased by the killer through a prop house, where she discovers Laurian’s corpse among the hanging mannequins. After escaping the killer three times, she is finally dragged into a ventilation shaft and killed.
A short time later, Samantha and Patti drink champagne in the kitchen, discussing Audra’s insanity. Samantha tells Patti about Stryker’s treachery for having abandoned her. She also admits having killed Stryker and Brooke. Shocked at the news of Stryker’s death, Patti reveals that she murdered the other women to win the part of Audra before stabbing Samantha to death.
In the end, Patti – now committed to an asylum – performs a monologue from “Audra” in front of the patients there, suggesting that she has gone insane after her failed attempts to get the coveted part.
Conceived by producer Peter R. Simpson after his box office hit Prom Night (1980), the film was intended to be an “adult” slasher aimed at older audiences in contrast to the standard genre films of the time, which featured predominately teenaged characters. Shooting began in late 1980 and was the beginning of a troubled production marked by multiple re-writes and re-shoots that spanned nearly three years. The film’s protracted production ended in director Richard Ciupka detaching his name from the project.
Principal photography for Curtains began November 10, 1980 on location in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada and Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The film suffered a troubled production, ultimately leading to the film being shelved for a year, during which there were rewrites, reshoots, and one major recasting done. As a result, two sets of credits grace the ending of Curtains, divided between “Act I” and “Act II,” denoting the two different, protracted production periods. Eventually, numerous crew members had to be rehired to shoot footage to complete the film.
Curtains’ troubled production stemmed from a clash between the film’s director, Richard Ciupka, and Simcom producer Peter Simpson. Ciupka envisioned the film as more of an arthouse thriller, whereas Simpson wanted a more commercial slasher film, of the type in vogue at the time. According to actress Linda Thorson, at one point the tension between the two became so intense, it caused many of the actors to feel uncertain whether the production would even move forward at all. Veteran actress Samantha Eggar has stated she thought the characters in the film were “vaguely drawn”, the end result “awful”, and she took the role chiefly for the work and salary.
Interview with (Act 1) director Richard Ciupka
The film really does have a great cast, including John Vernon and Samantha Eggar.
Richard Ciupka: John Vernon I knew – not well – but I had worked with him twice before. I worked with him on a film called Angela  with Sophia Loren and John Huston where I was the camera operator. We got along really well, and he was a very sweet guy.
I read that prior to Vernon coming aboard, you had considered Klaus Kinski for the role of Stryker. Is that true?
Richard Ciupka: Yes, that’s true. Kinski was doing all those Werner Herzog movies and he was this crazy actor, but the quality of his presence was stunning. Just his look, and his eyes. I remember I was arguing that it would add a plus to the whole thing, because there was a possibility that maybe he could be the killer. But then Peter said, “Well, nobody knows about Kinski except you, because you watch all these European movies, but American audiences don’t.”
How was it working with Samantha Eggar? She gave a really great performance.
Richard Ciupka: I was really petrified by her, to be honest with you. She looked terrific but she hardly spoke, she hardly said anything. She was a big-time actress and I was very intimidated by her but there was never a problem and she was very good with everything.
Originally, French-Canadian singer and actress Celine Lomez appeared in the film, but she was replaced by Linda Thorson. Why?
Richard Ciupka: I knew Celine from Montreal from doing some things there so I had worked with her. When I came onto the film, Peter was already talking about Celine because he thought she was a very attractive woman, which she was but when we started shooting, we saw that she wasn’t very good. Her accent was very strong. Eventually, after seeing the rushes Peter – being as tactful as he was just fired her.
There are stories that claim the set of Curtains was full of tension between director and producer. Is that true?
Richard Ciupka: To be honest, I’ve never understood that. Peter had a temper, and he didn’t mince his words, but I only remember having one argument with him on the set, and it was at the very end of the studio shoot. I actually hardly saw Peter on the shoot. He left me to do whatever I wanted, in terms of the art direction and everything. I’ve also heard these stories and I couldn’t believe it. I had a great relationship with Peter.
I came across an interview with Simpson in which he says that you didn’t know where to go with the film, and seems to almost imply that he fired you from the project.
Richard Ciupka: No, he never fired me. I can guarantee you that. When we were shooting, Peter didn’t have a full idea of what the movie would look like. That happened later after we finished the skating sequence, and they started putting all this together. He must have gone, “Oh, this is too artsy, this is too psychological. There’s not enough blood. There’s not enough this, or not enough that.” But it’s ironic because when he hired me for the film, it was because of that, you know? He didn’t want to have a cheap-looking B-movie; he wanted a very classy, well shot horror movie.
How much of the film did you actually direct then, if he shot additional footage?
Richard Ciupka: Basically, the opening nineteen minutes I have nothing to do with. And the last eleven minutes, which is that whole prop house chase scene, isn’t mine, either. If you watch it, it’s totally different in the way it’s lit. I mean, the whole thing about Samantha Eggar walking into the madhouse and being interned there, that was never in there at all. But Peter was very good at that; he was always changing things.
Tell me a bit about shooting the film.
Richard Ciupka: We shot from the end of October or beginning of November, and I had to come home for Christmas, because I had just gotten married and my wife wanted to kill me. I remember I had left Toronto and I had seen the first half hour of the film finished and I really liked what I saw. And Peter said, “Go and enjoy Christmas.” Then we came back on the shoot for the skating scene in January, and because there was no more snow in Toronto, we were chasing the cold and the snow north, I was there with a smaller crew and I did my own photography and operated the camera. We shot that scene and it went really well. I came back to Toronto and then went to Montreal because I had a lot of commercials to shoot. Peter said, “I will call you, and you’ll come up to Toronto and come and see the editing.” But that never happened. From that day on, after I came back from that shoot in Northern Ontario doing the skating scene, I never heard back from him.
The skating scene is one of the most memorable and chilling sequences from the film.
Richard Ciupka: I remember it was sunny and Peter said, “No, you can’t do this,” and I said, “No, no, it’s going to be great.” He was very happy at the end because it goes against the grain. I think, visually, it’s one of the most disturbing scenes in the film. I remember we shot it in two days, and the biggest problem I had was that there wasn’t enough ice to get any kind of momentum on skates, you know? It was very jagged ice. It wasn’t flat, and the [skating] double had a problem. Most of it I shot in slow-motion, which originally wasn’t planned. I did it in slow-motion just to prolong the skating surface, and it turned out really well.
Do you recall any scenes that you shot that ended up being cut out of the film?
Richard Ciupka: There were a lot of scenes of Michael Wincott. When I finally saw it, I said, “Where’s Michael?” There were also scenes of Samantha Eggar in her bedroom. And a lot of the night-time exteriors – I remember that we shot day for-night-of the scenes outside the mansion with Michael. They didn’t reshoot, they shot new stuff. They went in a different direction.
Was the creepy doll always in the script?
Richard Ciupka: Yes, but originally it wasn’t the same kind of doll as you see in the film. The first doll wasn’t as rigid; it was a softer type of doll. The whole car scene when the car stops in the middle of the road – you see, that’s another thing. Originally, it wasn’t a dream, Peter made it a dream sequence. But it wasn’t one in the original script. Peter rearranged stuff – just like Michael Wincott going through that big scene that is not in the film, with his snowmobile crashing through the library window. That doll scene was originally not a dream at all. One of the actresses was driving to the mansion and came upon this doll, thinking it was a child standing on the road in the rain. Then she gets close to it, and it was just this big hook for the audience at the beginning of the movie. And we left it at that. But Peter started playing with the structure so much.
There’s a photo showing the film’s alternate ending with Lynne Griffin’s character standing on a stage with her victims.
Richard Ciupka: The film that Peter released and what I was originally presented with in the script are like two different worlds. Peter really went off and just changed it all. After the skating scene, I had no contact with him. In those days, I was living between Montreal and Los Angeles, while Peter was in Toronto. He didn’t have me on his back, I guess, and he did whatever he wanted. He was the producer. And I was a bit naive in that sense, never thinking that he would change things. But you live and learn.
Whose decision was it to use the name “Jonathan Stryker” for the director’s credit?
Richard Ciupka: It was Peter’s. I just said that I would not put my name on this film. You know, a year or so later when I got the tape [of the finished film], I had spent a lot of time in Los Angeles and I was doing big commercials. So, to be honest, I couldn’t care less anymore. I was making way more money than doing drama. But I was disillusioned and it turned me off doing drama, so I just did commercials and opened my own production house.
What happened when you finally saw it?
Richard Ciupka: When I watched it, it just blew me away, because for the first nineteen minutes, I said, “What is this?” It was like nothing that had been written or nothing that I had shot. I couldn’t believe it. This was almost a year later when they sent me the cassette. They sent it with a letter, asking if could I please sign off on this. I said, “No, I can’t sign this; half of the movie I didn’t even shoot or had anything to do with the original script.” So, I told [Simpson] “No,” and I went off very disillusioned. I couldn’t believe a producer could even do that, honestly.
Are you surprised at the film’s cult following?
Richard Ciupka: You know, when I shot that, I never thought the film would do anything. Peter said that I was too artsy-fancy, but I think that it adds a certain flavour to the film. I guess that between the both of us, we ended up doing something.
Interview with Samantha Eggar
Do you recall how it came your way or was it another instance of a script just being offered to you?
Samantha Eggar: Curtains…Well, I feel I should put that one in perspective for you: at that time, my children were 13 and 15. From 1963, when I came to America, I was already under contract to Paramount. And then when I did The Collector, they put me under contract to Columbia. Then I went back to England in ’64 to shoot The Collector. And I never had any travel credentials. I was on a Visa. So for every five months for eleven years, I had to leave this country. I had to uproot my children. I always had the children with me, travelling to every location. But around 1969-70, I realized I would have to stay and put them in school. So I started working in America. I didn’t get a green card until I worked with Yul Brynner in the television series Anna and the King in 1973. By around 1980, when we started filming Curtains, I had decided to stop working. I should be at home. I mean, teenagers’ delight and all that. I had to be at home, really. I was just a single mother. And what happened was, I would take a film like Curtains when my ex-husband took them for a couple of weeks — either in the summer, or for Christmas. That’s how I guided my life at that time. Grab a film in the holidays when they’re with my ex-husband. I remember Curtains had a large cast for a film of that type. And it was a hectic shoot. Very difficult at points because you had to wait around for hours and hours for the crew to do all of the camera set-ups. You would spend a lot of time just waiting for the camera to be on you. That could be trying at times. On Curtains, neither the location, its storyline (or I should say, lack of one), nor the group of actors I was working with…none of that overcame my desire my need to get home. To be frank, I had very little interest in any of the work I was doing around that time, sadly to say. And Curtains fell into that category. What was paramount to me then was to be able to educate my children in good solid schools and to keep mine and their heads above water as upcoming teenagers.
Are you aware Curtains has bit of a cult following among fans?
Samantha Eggar: Vaguely. Can you tell me why people would have an interest in this one?
Curtains is a unique effort in that it has an adult cast, rather than teenagers. The premise of adult female actresses all vying for a coveted stage role give it a different feel. It’s more of a slasher by way of sleepy arthouse thriller.
Samantha Eggar: Ah. Well, I don’t think it was a very good film. In fact, I think the end result was an awful film. A bit of horror, dotted by some vaguely-drawn characters, really. Honestly, my memories of shooting Curtains were in large part superseded by my strong wish to complete it and get back to my children. That was foremost on my mind.
Do you regret making Curtains?
Samantha Eggar: No. I have no regrets. Never had a regret about anything. But I certainly have no regrets about the path I took. Mind you, my agent wanted to kill me at times.
Interview with (Act 2) Producer/Co-Director Peter Simpson
Let’s talk about Curtains.
Peter Simpson: Writer Bob Guza and I were shooting a film called Melanie. For our next project, we wanted to do a sort of adult horror film…we may have applied teenage principles to adult material. I loved Richard Ciupka because he had been the DOP on Melanie… Anyway, we became very good friends and we started chatting about the genesis of the new film Curtains. He was all into it. Richard wanted to do an “art film.” The model for the director Jonathan Stryker in both Richard Ciupka and Bob Guza’s minds was Klaus Kinski. And I said, well…good luck explaining that to the teenage audience. As so often is the case, everybody was respectful of the material. They say they’ll give you the film you need, the film you want…and all that stuff. But in reality, if the director in his brain is making a different movie from the producer – trouble is just down the road.
So is it fair to say at this point that you wanted an adult slasher and Ciupka wanted an art house film?
Peter Simpson: He wanted a still painting. I didn’t even mind that the material was adult. As a matter of fact, I not only wrote half of John Vernon’s lines…I directed half of the fucking movie. For example, Richard did one dolly shot…it was two minutes around the table, lingering on each of the actresses’ faces. Well, you can’t do that in the opening bit of the film. People just nod off.
You mean, the scene in which all the actresses first gather at Stryker’s house?
Peter Simpson: Yes. At least we cured Ciupka. He didn’t direct for about another fourteen years other than commercials. He’s a terrific guy. He just didn’t know where to go with the movie.
In regard to you taking control…how much did he actually film?
Peter Simpson: I don’t think Richard shot more than half the movie.
You came in and you took a much larger role than usual with Curtains. Would it be an understatement to call it a troubled production?
Peter Simpson: Yeah, I think it was a troubled production! Anytime you have basically the director and producer making different movies…
So you feel that fifty percent is what Ciupka shot…and the rest was you?
Peter Simpson: Yeah, about half. I’m a good traffic cop. If you’re not looking for a Spielberg kind of storytelling…I know how to run a crew. I’ve not been tempted to direct very often. It’s a very hard job.
How did you get the bigger names such as Samantha Eggar, Linda Thorson and Vernon to sign on? Was that due to your clout at the time?
Peter Simpson: I had known John Vernon because I had lived in L.A. during the latter part of the seventies and I had met him at cocktail parties and all that. I think the role for Eggar was just a well-written part for what she was…an older woman, you know?
She’s a terrific actress. One of our faves.
Peter Simpson: She’s great. Thorson was cast at the last minute after we bounced Celine Lomez.
Lomez was bounced because she refused to do a nude scene?
Peter Simpson: Oh, no…she couldn’t fucking act! It had nothing to do with a nude scene. As a matter of fact, Celine was one of those actresses who’d do a nude scene with the producer at lunch if she were asked. The biggest problem with Celine, who’s French Canadian, is I had seen a movie that was done in Montreal that she was in and I thought she sounded terrific. But the filmmaker must have done a hell of a job looping her because when she got on the Curtains set and she started yapping away, you had a choice. She could either act or she could speak English. Which one do you want? It was a terrible situation and after two or three days of rushes, I thought “Oh, please!”
So fragments were filmed with Lomez?
Peter Simpson: Oh, yeah…a couple of days.
Did Ciupka direct her footage?
Peter Simpson: He did all of the house stuff.
Which means he directed the scene in which Vernon and Thorson are shot and fall out of the second story window?
Peter Simpson: He did. However, what originally happened is that the character of Matthew, which is the part played by Michael Wincott, is killed on a snowmobile. And he drives THROUGH the living room window. But it was so ridiculous…
You mean the dead body is on the snow mobile and it comes through the front window as Sandra Warren screams?
Peter Simpson: Right. What we decided to do instead is have Vernon start to fall back and into the other window below. So we used that to make him come back in and we filmed a separate shot of Matthew floating in the jacuzzi…which we thought was poetic justice for him ’cause he had gotten his jollies in it.
Yeah, there’s an ice pick sticking out of his side. Did you ever film an actual death sequence for Matthew or does that happen completely off screen?
Peter Simpson: No, we never filmed anything.
There’s a moment where the hag is looking out a window and it’s the last time you see Matthew. He’s going off on the snowmobile into the woods…
Peter Simpson: Yeah, that’s the snow mobile that was to have later come in through the window.
Did you actually go in and re-shoot any of the house scenes?
Peter Simpson: No. Ciupka shot all that. It was obvious that there were no back stories to the women so we created a lot of them and whole new locations. For example, the prop shed. We just created that whole thing so we could have a good chase sequence.
So you directed the extended prop house sequence?
Peter Simpson: I directed that, yes.
Whose idea was the hag mask?
Peter Simpson: I think that was Sandy Desperation. We had to cover up the killer and we just thought it was a suitable theatrical prop. We told the prop department to come up with twenty things and that was one of the things they came up with. Which of course, proved a nice dovetail in the dramatic scene with Eggar.
It’s a very effective device. People seem to remember that damn mask…
Peter Simpson: It’s horrifically human, you know? It seems to have its own pathos. It’s beyond life-like or a facsimile of a face. It has a humanity to it…I don’t know why that is. Something in the design, I guess.
It’s got a little Greek in it. Maybe a bit like the classical theatre masks the tragedians used to evoke catharsis. So props just went out and brought it back to you?
Peter Simpson: Well, it was a version of that and then it was dollied up by the props department.
Who do you think has the mask now?
Peter Simpson: You know, when we were scouring to take inventory for Alliance when I was doing the sale. We found that in our storage facility, I had three bikes from the three kids in Prom Night. I was absolutely paying for storage for eighteen years for three cycles from that movie! I remember I had the tombstone for Robin Hammond from Prom Night and my kids used it for Halloween for about three or four years. But where the hag mask is? Honestly, most people on film sets are basic thieves too. If you don’t lock things down on the last day of shooting… it’s a good keepsake.
How about that doll?
Peter Simpson: I love the doll. It’s a very scary doll with a creepy looking face.
Let’s talk about the ice-skating scene. You shot that?
Peter Simpson: Right. It actually violates a lot of rules of horror films. You don’t kill people in sunshine, right?
Almost never…at least not in straightforward stalk n’ slash fashion.
Peter Simpson: And the slow motion seemed to help, even give greater humanity to the mask. The whole thing became sort of very surreal.
Not to mention the pop song Lesleh is playing [Save My Soul] makes the whole setup both disarming and foreboding at the same time. Was the scene and the fact that it would take place in broad daylight in Guza’s original script?
Peter Simpson: Yes it was. I have a copy of the original script.
What do you recall about shooting Lesleh Donaldsons death scene?
Peter Simpson: First of all, one of the problems that becomes fairly obvious if you look at the slo-mo is that the ice is so bumpy…bumps that always surface unless you hose it down. We had the grips out there hosing, trying to get a decent ice surface.
Maybe that’s what caused Lesleh’s fall.
Peter Simpson: Is Lesleh still claiming she can skate?
She told us you sent her to get lessons and she thought she could do the basic stuff. But she got out there and she fell down and twisted her ankle…
Peter Simpson: I brought in a real figure skater. I don’t remember the girl’s name.
Peter Simpson: Yes…I believe so. But it was actually one of the few times I was ever embarrassed in interviewing someone. We brought her in to do the stunt double. She was the right height and everything. But she had this big parka on because it was the wintertime. So she came into my office at Simcom and she sat down. And she had the parka off her shoulders. I said, “I can’t look at you with that parka on, would you take it off so we could see what you look like and what the camera’s gonna see?” I assumed she had something on underneath it…but she just had fucking panties on. I’m standing there saying, “You’ll look good on camera, you can put that parka back on!”
Maybe she didn’t have time to get dressed?
Peter Simpson: I guess. I don’t know.
The skating cuts are quite seamless in the scene. You can’t really see a double.
Peter Simpson: She was very good. We had that little hat. Jo-Anne was blonde but by the time you put the brunette wig and that little pink hat on, you couldn’t spot it.
Who is in the hag mask skating after Lesleh?
Peter Simpson: If I recall correctly, it’s the same figure skater.
You used her for both parts?
Peter Simpson: I think so. Did you notice how the end credits used Curtains: Act I and Act II? Because there were different crews. There were different assistant directors. Tony Thatcher was the first AD on the Ciupka shoot. And then Steve Wright did AD work for me. Freddie Guthe, who was the operator for Ciupka, did the DOP work on my shoot.
Did Curtains begin shooting in November/December 1980?
Peter Simpson: That’s right. And we shot some of it a year later. [Following final production in 1982, Curtains saw a U.S. theatrical release in March 1983]. Here’s the thing. We talked earlier about Curtains being troubled. It was more than troubled. When Ciupka left the picture, I had half a movie. So you sit there and you say that half a movie is about as valuable as half a fucking car. What do you do with half a film? If you don’t have inspiration, you bide your time. It was the cost of money…let’s say I was running up an interest tab of whatever…vs. the fact that I had an unsalable piece of merchandise.
So was Richard Ciupka fired or did he leave amicably?
Peter Simpson: Well, it’s always great when I think he’s in over his head…and so does he. Let’s say he wasn’t invited back to the re-shoots. Don’t get me wrong…I love Ritchie. There are no hard feelings. We kissed and made up a long time ago. He was just the wrong guy for this picture. He didn’t really know how to stage for the camera. He was more worried about shot composition than he was with the energy.
And crediting the director of Curtains to ‘Jonathan Stryker’? Various folks seem to think this was Ciupka’s decision to distance himself from the film. But considering the nature of the distended re-shoots, it’s fairly obvious that would have been your decision?
Peter Simpson: Yes, it was. And as we weren’t DGA, no need for Alan Smithee!
For a slasher, the two most inspired scenes of energy in Curtains are the ice skating scene and the cat and mouse chase in the prop shed. What do you recall about the latter with Sandra Warren (AKA Sandee Currie who also appeared in Terror Train)?
Peter Simpson: The scene with the hag sitting in the back of the car? That was a nice little jolt.
The hum of the neon signs…the mannequins…the hanging curtains in primary colors…and that bricked up door. It’s well done. And Warren does a good job.
Peter Simpson: I feel there were a lot of good actresses in the movie. One of the things that I always thought held the movie together was essentially the drama remains pretty good between all the horror stuff.
The one you see least of is the ballerina (Anne Ditchburn).
Peter Simpson: You know what? Fucking Anne couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. I absolutely loved her and if you’ve never grabbed a ballerina’s ass…well, you ought to try it some time. The hardest butts in the world.
But her acting left something to be desired?
Peter Simpson: In another kind of movie, Anne could have done other things. It’s just that she wasn’t up to fighting with Thorson, Griffin and Eggar. She probably could have held her own with young Lesleh and Sandra. You know, it’s a very obvious omission but we should have had more bits of stuff…even short scenes with Anne to pay off her death. She’s not in it enough. She was a major ballerina in real life.
Was there a language barrier there?
Peter Simpson: No, she had this mousy little voice. And I think quite frankly, Samantha Eggar and Linda Thorson are just ballsy broads. They stand up and take total control. I think it was Anne’s little complex.
For an ingenue, Lesleh is quite good in the movie.
Peter Simpson: Lesleh always looks terrific. She had the perfect naivete for the young little figure skater who knew she was in over her head.
There’s a real mid-western virginity there that works, even though she’s from Canada.
Peter Simpson: I shot a great little scene with Lesleh and her skating coach that didn’t make it to the final cut. We had a little back story with her. The character had been having an affair with her coach. She was jilted and that was supposed to resonate when she sleeps with Stryker. Want another bit of trivia?
Peter Simpson: Sandra’s left breast…where Anne is touching her, pretending to be a man. We needed a close-up. And we had to cast a body for it. So I saw this girl and I remember she had a hat on and bandages all over her nose.
Bandages…on her nose?
Peter Simpson: She just had a nose job! I went down this line-up of four girls to see if there was a good match for Sandra. You know who I picked? Shannon Tweed, who went on to live with Hugh Hefner and is now with KISS frontman Gene Simmons. We ended up being good friends and she did two or three films for me.
Curtains ultimately works but there’s something odd about the last ten or fifteen minutes. Was there some confusion about who the killer would be?
Peter Simpson: It was always going to be Lynne Griffin.
That was in Guza’s original screenplay?
Peter Simpson: I believe so.
Then it’s not true that several different endings with different killers were filmed?
Peter Simpson: No…although technically there ARE two killers in the final version because the Eggar character kills Stryker.
And Thorson. Lynne kills everybody else as a mad hag.
Peter Simpson: Right.
Let’s talk about locations. Where was Stryker’s retreat, in actuality?
Peter Simpson: Well, the house in the country with the snow…that was all exterior shooting in the wintertime.
Where is that exterior?
Peter Simpson: It’s about one hundred miles north of Toronto. The insane asylum is in Toronto. In the asylum, the two attendants who wrestle the strait-jacket on Eggar…one of them is Bill Marshall, the founder of the Toronto Film Festival.
Neat. Where is the rainy road that the doomed blonde (Deborah Burgess) drives on…in her nightmare, at least?
Peter Simpson: That’s a popular area called Caledon, a hilly area that we used as the transition to go from the city to the snowy countryside. Norman Jewison’s farm is out that way.
What do you recall about some of the other actresses, namely Griffin and Burgess?
Peter Simpson: Deborah Burgess is still doing very well. She was a newscaster who did acting. I used to bump into Lynne Griffin at LAX. I was very pleased with Lynne’s performance in this film.
How about composer Paul Zaza? We find his score for Curtains to be very effective. He scored for all of your Prom Night movies as well as 1981’s My Bloody Valentine and 1983’s American Nightmare…
Peter Simpson: Paulie. We’re very good friends. He co-scored the first Prom Night with Carl Zittrer, who had done Black Christmas. The dance piece that Paul did for Anne Ditchburn in Curtains when she dies is a great piece. He’s a terrific composer but he’s also a businessman. Paul is not confused about what pays the bills. I think he’s not a “tortured starving artist” like certain people. You know what he is? He’s totally and absolutely a producer’s composer. In other words, Paul sits down and tries to really get what you need. I’ve always gotten along with him. The two people who have kept him in business during the ’80s and ’90s are me and Bob Clark.
One of the promotional lobbycards for Curtains shows Griffin standing on a theatre stage surrounded by her recent bloody kills (which are positioned for maximum shock effect). This seems to be either an alternate approach to the ending or a setup to be intercut with the ‘Griffin in the asylum’ ending.
Peter Simpson: Yes, this was the original stagey ending. It didn’t really work.
Regarding deleted footage for Curtains, we show a running time of 90 minutes but we’ve seen various running times listed ranging from 100 to 110 minutes.
Peter Simpson: There might have been a longer cut. This was edited over a long period of time. There were more cuts than I’ve had with a bad razor. I remember all sorts of stuff that was shot but I really remember most of all a scene with a skating instructor and Lesleh. I thought this sequence made the final cut but it clearly didn’t. It must have been trimmed. Alliance’s material is only as good as mine.
If anyone were to have some of this ancillary/deleted material for Curtains, it would be Alliance?
Peter Simpson: Absolutely.
Canadian horror from the late 1970s and early 1980s have a great vibe to them. Is it because of that said straightforward storytelling approach?
Peter Simpson: Horror was always the domain of the independents. It’s not the domain of the studios. Canadians by definition worked outside of the purview of the studios and we were in the independent stream. The first thing, as you know, that most directors do when they do a horror film is they do something else.
Anything you want to add about Curtains?
Peter Simpson: Well, I was amazed that you guys had done all this work and that you mentioned the re-shoots and the history of the film. I couldn’t find any inaccuracies. I do have to tell you, one of the things I thank you for is you made me go back and watch Curtains again.
That’s so cool. And did you enjoy it?
Peter Simpson: I did. There are some real jolts that I had forgotten about!
POST PRODUCTION: Re-shoots
Plagued with production problems that delayed its release for two years, ignored by audiences at the time and disparaged by critics, Curtains slowly gained a cult fan base. Perhaps known as much for its problems behind the camera as for the action in front of it Curtains is composed of footage shot by two different people: Belgian-born Canadian director Richard Ciupka and the film’s producer, the late Peter Simpson (Prom Night I to IV).
Director Ciupka left the film after disagreements with producer Simpson over stylistics and tone. At the time Ciupka abandoned the project, only forty-five minutes of the film had been shot, which resulted in Simpson having to take over the shoot. The final chase scene in the prop house was filmed by Simpson over a year after the initial production, as was the ending murder scene between Samantha Eggar and Lynne Griffin. Writer Robert Guza Jr. returned to the project for rewrites under Simpson’s supervision. This resulted in various additional scenes being shot, many of which never made it into the final picture.
Producer Peter Simpson, excised entire scenes, had existing ones re-edited, and later shot and inserted new footage. Deleted scenes included a backstory sequence where, prior to arriving at Stryker’s retreat, Christie is emotionally rejected by her skating coach. This scene was intended to show the character’s vulnerability when she is rejected again, this time by Stryker. The scene was shot two years after the initial production on a college campus, but never made it into the final cut.
Actors Michael Wincott and Anne Ditchburn also originally had more dialogue, but most of their lines were cut from the final version of the film. Wincott’s death was also originally filmed with him being killed on a snowmobile and then crashing into the library, scaring Sandee Currie’s character. This scene was later cut out of the film, and he is instead killed off-screen in a hot tub.
Among the most striking differences between script and final cut are some of the script’s more shocking kill scenes. One victim is skewered on the tip of a ski pole that has been affixed to a chair lift, and is hoisted high into the air; another is riding a snowmobile when she’s pursued by the killer (also on a snowmobile) through the woods and smashes throat-level into a low-hanging branch. And figure skater Christie is dispatched not by a sickle, but by the blade of a skate, when the hag-masked killer raises a foot to slice her neck. Not only is the young woman’s head later found in a toilet (as in the film), but her body is suspended in the shower.
In Guza’s original script, the look of the killer’s hag mask grey, wrinkled skin with long, stringy red hair is likened to that of a banshee: a female supernatural being of Irish folklore, known to wail when someone is about to die. The dialogue contains references to the creatures, and the murders are preceded by the strange wailing of something seemingly inhuman. The killer even sports what is thought to be the traditional banshee garb: a green dress with grey cloak. In the finished film, the references to banshees are omitted entirely. The climax of the shooting script leaves Stryker alive, as comedienne/killer Patti props up all the corpses on stage and asks him to pick the best one to play Audra. Stryker then calls the authorities and takes the blame for the deaths.
Despite the elements of horror, Guza who would go on to long-time writing gigs on such soap operas as Santa Barbara and General Hospital manages to infuse his screenplay with a bit of dark humour and more than a touch of melodrama. It’s a more literary, self-reflexive story with nastier kills, and a fascinating reminder that filmmakers were becoming more ambitious with the slasher formula as the cycle went on.
Actress Lynne Griffin recalls filming an alternate ending in Toronto. In this scene, her character Patti O’Connor delivers a monologue on a theater stage surrounded by her dead victims. This alternate ending was not used in the final cut of the film. According to Michael MacLaverty, film editor for “Curtains, the alternate theater ending was ultimately discarded because Alana Simpson, then wife of producer Peter Simpson, felt it was “too improbable.” “[Alana] couldn’t really accept the fact that all these corpses were somehow dragged together [by the killer] and put on a stage somewhere,” recalls MacLaverty.
Interview with Linda Thorson
How did Curtains come your way?
Linda Thorson: Well, Curtains was going to be shot in Toronto and as you well know, there were several female parts up for grabs. I think they literally looked in the Canadian Spotlight, the casting magazine. I was hot property at the time because I was this Canadian actress who had taken over the lead in The Avengers. I was called and asked to go to Toronto and do it. I don’t even remember auditioning for Curtains, honestly. I believe it was like, “Do you want to come and do this thing?” So it was more about the invitation from them for me to do it, rather than a formal audition process. I was living in London at the time, and I asked my agent what the story was about. She said, “Well, basically it’s Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians. But with some adult actresses fighting for a stage role.” So I was okay with that. Plus, Curtains was a chance for me to work back in Toronto. They flew me back over to Canada. I met John Vernon, who was wonderful. He embraced me and eventually, I ended up spending quite a bit of time with him and his wife Nancy in Somerhill Gardens. Their daughter Kate is a wonderful actress. I’m still close with both Nancy and Kate.
Did you meet the other actors in the cast right away?
Linda Thorson: Well, of course I met somebody who was to become one of my closest and dearest friends, and still is…the beautiful Samantha Eggar. They had brought Sam in as well. She’s ten years older than I and of course, was very well-known at that time.
Tell us a little more about John Vernon.
Linda Thorson: I became very close friends with him and his family. John died in 2005 and he wasn’t that old. Around 72, I believe.
Correct. He was so revered in the Canadian film world.
Linda Thorson: Oh, he really was. And a wonderfully nice man. A great guy. He took care of all of us on the film. He wasn’t unlike Patrick Macnee in that regard. He was that kind of guy. A real gentleman. When you became a part of their show, people like Patrick, like John, made sure you were doing okay. John was very generous. He took us out to dinner each night. I mean, we had a lot of fun filming Curtains. And it was all done with a pretty reasonable budget. It looks pretty good for what it is, don’t you think?
It looks great. Let’s talk a little about your character, Brooke. Brooke is actually a good role for this kind of film. Because out of the six actresses vying for the coveted part of Stryker’s Audra, Brooke is the one who has experience. Samantha Sherwood is clearly not Stryker’s pick. And the other actresses lack the gravitas needed to carry off the heavy-duty role. Did you feel the role of Brooke had a little more meat on its bones than some of the other parts?
Linda Thorson: Yes. I did. I hate to say this — and I certainly don’t want it taken the wrong way — but I think in my audacity back then…having starred in The Avengers, I just thought that was exactly as it should be.
Yes. The director, Jonathan Stryker, thinks she’s too old for the part and so he invites all the ingénues to audition for the role.
Linda Thorson: Sure. So it wasn’t as if Sam and I were in direct competition.
And you mentioned you struck up a great friendship with Samantha?
Linda Thorson: Absolutely. And we still are. I go and stay with her in L.A., and she comes and stays with me in New York. Her daughter is just a wonderful actress who also lives in New York.
Now, the part of Brooke was originally cast to Celine Lomez. In our interview with Peter Simpson, he mentioned that a few scenes were even shot with Lomez in the role. But according to Peter, he was ultimately left with the job of finding a real actress to play the part of Brooke. Enter Linda Thorson.
Linda Thorson: You know, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of any of this! About Celine Lomez, I mean. I suppose that could have all happened before I got there. But no, I wasn’t aware of it at the time.
Richard Ciupka was hired by producer Peter Simpson to direct Curtains. It was Ciupka’s first time from cinematographer to being a director.
Linda Thorson: That’s right.
Simpson wanted a commercial horror film, something he could market and make some bucks off. Ciupka wanted something more like an arthouse thriller. So there was this conflict on the set where Ciupka was shooting these long, expository scenes with all of you around the dinner table and Samantha. Whereas Simpson just wanted slasher scenes.
Linda Thorson: Yes, What I remember most vividly is that for about a week straight we all thought we were going to get fired. That it was going to be the end. I mean, THE. END. I couldn’t figure out, in my own inexperienced way — and frankly, I don’t think Sam could either — how this thing was going to go forward when these guys [Simpson and Ciupka] were literally yelling at each other. The whole thing got very tense at some points. And also very embarrassing. I remember that. I remember thinking: “These men are acting like a couple of little kids. A couple of boys.” And then as suddenly as it started, it would get very gentle and quiet and we would be kept waiting, not knowing what was going on. We would go back to our trailers or just hang around the makeup room.
Then what happened?
Linda Thorson: Then I remember, out of nowhere, BAM! An entirely new script came out. I don’t know if it came from Bob Guza (the screenwriter). Or from one of the script people. I have no idea. But at that point, I remember wondering, “Wait. Am I still in this thing?” .
That tension ultimately resulted in Ciupka leaving the film and Simpson finishing the movie as more of a horror film than Richard had envisioned.
Linda Thorson: Yes. When Richard left, I sort of felt that I had lost my champion in a way. Because he liked to talk about the character’s motivation. We would talk about why things were going on in the storyline. He liked to discuss the relationships between the characters. And I remember, after that, any kind of talk about character motivation went out the window and there was more horror in it afterwards.
Were you unhappy with the change in direction?
Linda Thorson: I actually remember calling my agent and saying I didn’t want to be in something like that. A sort of arthouse movie became more of a horror film. But I hadn’t seen any dailies or anything, so I had no idea where it was headed. However, I also remember being very glad that we were going to keep doing it. When I was told I was finished on the movie, I actually thought they had decided not to use me anymore and I was upset because I didn’t think I’d finished it. Then at some point, they had to bring me back. I was in L.A. and they brought me back to do some scene. They probably didn’t know how they were going to end the film. I guess if I had nothing to do with how they were going to end it, they wouldn’t have brought me back. I recall being really upset because I wondered if I had failed or I hadn’t done a good job. My agent told me, “It’s just a mess. It’ll probably get shelved. No one will probably ever see this movie.” And that depressed me as well! Because I wanted everyone to see it.
It had a limited theatrical release but it wasn’t huge.
Linda Thorson: No, it wasn’t.
So here’s the $64 million dollar question: had she not been killed, would Brooke have gotten the role of Audra?
Linda Thorson: Of course she would have, darlings! Was there ever any doubt?
Interview with Film Editor Michael MacLaverty
Tell us how Curtains came your way.
Michael MacLaverty: As I recall, Curtains — like Tanya’s Island — started out with another editor. His name was Henry Richardson. If I remember correctly, I was going to be his assistant on the film. But there was a holdup for some reason at a very early stage in production and that might have been when one of the actresses got fired.
Michael MacLaverty: Right. So I left work on Curtains temporarily, and I went over to cut the TV version of Prom Night for producer Peter Simpson. Then I guess that things got back on track again with Curtains.
One of the other assistants stayed on to work Curtains, and by the time I got finished with Prom Night, they were well into the routine of the film and I didn’t bother going back. But then things fell apart again and there was a big hiatus. I got a call from either Peter or his wife Alana asking me to come and cut the balance of the show. Peter wanted to take over the shooting himself. The original director, Richard Ciupka, was long gone at that point.
Do you recall the specific editing work you did on the TV version of Prom Night – i.e. what was cut or put in to make it appropriate for television?
Michael MacLaverty: Yes. We took some stuff out, but we also had to add things that were not in the original theatrical production in order to make up time for television. I remember that. There were about six short scenes that had been dropped. Or parts of scenes that had been removed but they decided to stick them back in.
Would you say you might have taken out a boob from the theatrical version, for example, and put in a dance moment for TV?
Michael MacLaverty: Right. Remember, there was a lot of nudity in the washroom scene with the girls. The director, Paul Lynch, was bringing in marvelous production values. They had 30 days to shoot it and he was just zipping through material. He had those poor girls running around naked for a week. That scene probably should have taken a day and a half at best.
So you didn’t begin editing Curtains until after Ciupka had already left?
Michael MacLaverty: Correct.
But you had already worked with Peter Simpson (on Prom Night) before Curtains…
Michael MacLaverty: A little bit. I don’t think I met Peter on the actual original theatrical version, although I had helped out in the sound department at that time. I assisted the editors. It might have been a couple of days’ work. But the TV version is where I got to meet him. In fact, I mostly worked with his wife Alana.
When you got the call to work on Curtains, would you say you had had a positive working relationship with Simpson?
Michael MacLaverty: Oh yeah. Peter was a great guy.
And you had no dealings with Richard Ciupka?
Michael MacLaverty: No. I wouldn’t know him from sight at all.
When you came onto the picture, did you know what had been shot so far?
Michael MacLaverty: Yes. We sat down and screened it. It was me, Peter, and the writer.
Michael MacLaverty: Yes. Bob was a great guy. Anyway, they were changing the script, I don’t remember how much. But there was some re-writing going on. We sat down and screened the footage and discussed what Peter wanted to do and where he was going with it…or wanted to go with it. He asked me if I had any problems with what was going on. I said no.
Do you recall in general what you saw at that point in terms of footage?
Michael MacLaverty: Mostly the interiors. The sets were quite elaborate, at least for this kind of film. There was a joke going around that the budget had been blown on plywood to build the sets. The amount of time that was taken to light and shoot, was considerable. But for the most part, Curtains was pretty well cut at that point and we didn’t mess with it an awful lot. We changed some of it to go along the lines of the direction Peter wanted rather than Richard.
From what you watched, did it not feel like a horror film?
Michael MacLaverty: Correct. It certainly wasn’t like a slasher-type movie, which is the direction that Peter wanted to go. It was more of a psychological drama, with mind games and stuff sort of happening.
Not a lot of suspense or action?
Michael MacLaverty: Not very much action.
Did Simpson discuss with you his displeasure with Ciupka’s work?
Michael MacLaverty: He said something along the lines of “What we’ve got here is a dog’s breakfast.” Meaning we’ve got one thing and we’re going to try and make something else out of it. He told me, “Let’s have some fun. Do the best you can.” He also said he didn’t have a lot of time or money.
He asked, “Can you live with that?”
And so the script was being changed when you came on board to make it more of a horror movie?
Michael MacLaverty: Yeah, Bob Guza and Simpson were working on that. I remember Guza being around for the initial part of the first couple of weeks of production. Then he went back to Los Angeles because he had a full-time gig with the daytime soap General Hospital. I think he took the Curtains job to help it get back on track as a sort of vacation.
At that point, Simpson began to shoot additional footage…
Michael MacLaverty: Yes. A lot of the exterior stuff. Some of the stuff up in Muskoka, he did. The ice skating sequence, the prop house.
How about the exterior scenes of some of the actresses coming to Jonathan Stryker’s house?
Michael MacLaverty: I’m not sure about that.
Do you recall scenes that Simpson shot that were not ultimately used in the final released version?
Michael MacLaverty: No, almost everything he shot was in there. We were rather tight for time. I do remember that.
The credits allude to the stop in production with “Act I” and “Act II.” There were two halves: the Ciupka arthouse film and Simpson’s horror stuff. You had to put that together?
Michael MacLaverty: That’s right.
There’s a production still showing Lynne Griffin on a stage surrounded by the corpses. Have you seen that still?
Michael MacLaverty: Yes. I vaguely remember the footage of it. I’m pretty sure Patti delivered the same monologue she does in the asylum scene (without the dead bodies). The thing with the alternate ending was that Alana Simpson couldn’t accept the fact that all these corpses were somehow dragged together and put on a stage somewhere. She felt it was just too improbable and was rather vocal at some point about the two slightly different endings. So they went with the asylum one. But they were both shot simultaneously.
Were those dummies used or the actual actresses?
Michael MacLaverty: My impression is that it was the real people.
When the snowmobile comes through the window, the original idea was for Michael Winner’s body to be on it, right?
Michael MacLaverty: The character had gone off on the snowmobile and sort of disappeared and somehow out of the blue, his body came crashing through the window. There was no real story about it and we dropped it. They filmed the scene where Stryker and Brooke are shot (by Samantha Eggar) and have fallen out of the second story window. I was looking at this sequence on the moviola and I slowed things down a bit. And it occurred to me that it looked like they had fallen down and rolled back into the house on the ground floor…which would allow for them to complete the motion and come crashing in and land on the couch. I cut it that way and I played it for my assistants and asked, “What do you think of this? Will this work?”
What did they say?
Michael MacLaverty: They said, “Well…aw, what the hell. It’s a horror movie. Anything will work.”
I called Peter. He was in the middle of shooting the prop house scene, and I asked him when he’d be back downtown so he could have a look at this stuff. He said he was really busy and that he would send someone down with a truck to bring a moviola out so we could run it for him. Which is what we did. I sat around half the day waiting for him and then finally he came along and had a look at it and said, “Yeah. Yeah! That’ll do it. We’ll get them back on the set and we’ll cut them on the couch.”
He liked your idea.
Michael MacLaverty: Yeah, he liked it. When I looked at the film again recently, I thought…oh, I’m not sure it really works. But what the hell.
So what would have been the snowmobile crashing through the window ended up being two bodies.
Michael MacLaverty: Correct. You don’t see that it’s a snowmobile in the final version. Currie sees the bodies and runs off into the prop house.
Simpson told us that prop house scene was difficult for him.
Michael MacLaverty: It was very tight quarters. It WAS an actual prop house in a very small studio. They stored things there for other productions. And when the studio was needed, they had to clear that stuff out and then put it all back again. A lot of the props you see onscreen were already there. So it was just a matter of trying to make a passageway for the characters to run through and jump out of. They spent about three days shooting in there. It was slow going, because they had to get the camera in and out of some very tight spaces. And I remember Peter was getting very frustrated. He didn’t like to sit around and wait. That’s not the kind of man he was. He wanted stuff to happen. He liked action, and he would be like, “C’mon, I’m ready! Let’s do it!”
The prop house sequence is great because of the chase and suspense of course, but also because of the editing. You see mannequins, drapes, fake doors, costumes, road signs, etc. All of those shots are you editing Simpson’s work into a montage of cuts, correct?
Michael MacLaverty: Yes, that’s me.
Including that scary moment when you see a two-jump shot to the killer in the back seat of that gutted-out taxicab?
Michael MacLaverty: Yeah, that was my work.
Were you involved at all with the cast and crew or was your job on Curtains completely behind-the-scenes and off the set?
Michael MacLaverty: Very rarely did the editors get to go on the set. We’re stuck in our little darkrooms cutting their little pictures. We do get to meet them sometimes during rushes. It depends on the movies. Sometimes the actors watch them, sometimes they don’t. Some of the crew watch rushes to see what they shot the day before. You get your instructions from the director and you discuss how the scene’s gonna go and how he imagines it going. Then you go away, cut it and run it for him at a later date.
Let’s talk about the ice-skating scene with Lesleh Donaldson. Do you recall putting it together once it was shot?
Michael MacLaverty: Yeah, that was a lot of fun because we had to stretch it out. Peter wanted it to go on, partly because of time. He felt it was a good area where we could make up some time. I’m sure we reprinted some of the shots, especially of the killer skating towards Lesleh. We stretched that one out quite a ways.
Is that why it’s in slow motion?
Michael MacLaverty: Right. Because that was a very small pond it was filmed on. Near or at the beginning of the scene, you sort of see the scope of the area and that was essentially it. We had to make the thing look bigger. Fortunately, we had some of those low angle shots.
The low angles where you see the legs and feet of the killer skating…they make the pond appear longer and wider, correct?
Michael MacLaverty: Yeah, you can stretch it out and make it seem as if the person is coming from half a mile away instead of two hundred feet.
That’s interesting. From a genre standpoint, the ice skating scene is fantastic. When you were editing, did you think that particular sequence had a little more “oomph” that the rest of the picture?
Michael MacLaverty: No, actually. I thought it was one of the worst scenes in the movie. It’s probably because I had to cheat so much to drag it out. By the end of it, I couldn’t believe it. But people like it and that’s great. It’s strange. Sometimes you can work on a scene and you say, “Oh, that’s really great!” And then the producer or director will come in and say, “My God, that’s the biggest load of crap. What the hell were you thinking? Go back and start over.”
It sounds like your issue is that you see all the technical seams that we don’t.
Michael MacLaverty: Yeah, that’s right. Mind you, the Burton Cummings song and Paul Zaza’s music help make it memorable.
Particularly during the initial chase when Zaza’s music swells.
Michael MacLaverty: Paul is great. He’s an interesting guy. He’s a good “producer’s composer.” He’ll give you what you want…not necessarily what he wants. You say you want this, that or the other thing and he’ll say, “Okay.” And he delivers it without argument.
That’s probably why Simpson liked working with him.
Michael MacLaverty: Sure. They did a number of pictures together.
Do you recall gore or blood effects that you cut out? For example, when Donaldson is killed at the tree?
Michael MacLaverty: I don’t. We used pretty much everything we could get.
There’s been a rumor floating around that there was footage shot with Klaus Kinski. True or false?
Michael MacLaverty: I don’t think that’s true. I never saw anything with him.
What’s your opinion of this troubled film all these years later, having seen it recently?
Michael MacLaverty: Honestly, I didn’t find it very suspenseful. There’s not a lot of what I call “tension and release” in it. Maybe it’s because of the two different styles being crammed together. But I was looking at it from a technical standpoint.
Did the skating scene play the same way for you as when you finished working on the film?
Michael MacLaverty: Yes. After I worked on it, I was never really satisfied with it. There are some movies that you get to work on that you can’t be a prima donna about. They are what they are. They’re low budget, they’re whatever. And you just have to go with that.
You do the best you can with the amount of time and money the producers give you. You do it and then you move on to the next scene and ultimately to the next picture.
If you could do that scene over, what would you do differently?
Michael MacLaverty: I think I would shoot it in a larger location. My biggest problem was I could never really believe that the girl wouldn’t hear someone coming up behind her for that period of time.
I know what it’s like to be out in that kind of country. It’s very quiet. If someone is 200 or even 1,000 feet away, you’re gonna know about it. I always have problems with that kind of stuff, not only on this film, but on other pictures. Maybe it’s just me.
Well, horror films, almost more than any other genre, are pure fantasy. You don’t stick to the same rules as a drama. They’re in their own unique world.
Michael MacLaverty: That’s true.
Do you recall any kind of party after Curtains was completed?
Michael MacLaverty: Yes, I remember the wrap party for Curtains. The cast and crew came. Burton Cummings came and played. He and Peter were great friends. I remember a stage. I’m thinking it was the same theatre where the alternate closing scene was shot.
Interview with Lesleh Donaldson
How did your audition go?
Lesleh Donaldson: It’s strange but I don’t have a strong memory of auditioning for Curtains. I really don’t. It’s bizarre. I went in and auditioned for Ciupka and the casting director. I don’t recall it being a long process. It might have been a couple of auditions and then I got it.
You were up for the part of Christie right from the beginning?
Lesleh Donaldson: Yes. And she was a skater! Another athlete! You have to understand that I am not an athlete. I AM NOT. At all. I can swim. Yet I was getting all these roles, and not only in feature films but in television. Like in The Littlest Hobo, I was a blind horse rider! Blind! I’d never been on a horse in my life. I had to be jumping on stuff because she was a professional horse rider. Not only was I doing athletic characters, they were athletes with handicaps. I was an epileptic swimmer. I was a blind horse rider. And here I was in Curtains, skating and getting my head chopped off! It was becoming a joke. Again, I’m not an athlete. I could skate but couldn’t jump and twirl and do that stuff.
It’s funny because you sorta LOOK athletic.
Lesleh Donaldson: Well, that’s amazing because like I told you, I used to swim and I was on the basketball team…but I always thought of myself as a terrible player. I jog. I work out. I remember when I auditioned for The Littlest Hobo, the casting director came out and went around the room and said, “I don’t want anybody lying. Don’t lie to me. If I find out you can’t ride a horse and you tell me you can, I’ll be really upset.”
That’s funny. What did everyone say?
Lesleh Donaldson: Everybody was like, “Oh, sure. Yup. Yup. Of course.” And when she got to me, I said, “No!” And yet I’m the one that got the part. I was thrilled but I was like…what?? So I had to go and learn to ride a horse, just as I had to train to skate for Curtains. I had a couple of different figure skating trainers. I got this little routine down that I was gonna do. I tried it and went face first into the ice.
Were you hurt?
Lesleh Donaldson: I had a bit of a fat lip, yeah. Makeup helps a lot.
It’s sad that you did all that work and didn’t get to do it onscreen.
Lesleh Donaldson: It was also sad for Gerry Arbeid, the line producer, because he turned and he went, “She trained and she smacks her face? We paid for her training and she can’t do it?!” I was like, “Dude, I trained in an arena. I didn’t train on a pond!” Anyway, they had a double there so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
What was your first impression of John Vernon?
Lesleh Donaldson: He was great. He had a good sense of humor, sort of dry and acerbic. I seemed to always be around people who were like that. Maybe that’s why I’ve become acerbic after all these years.
John was very nice. Very kind. Very down to earth. He kind of kept to himself. We didn’t hang out on the set. But he was great.
What can you tell us about Samantha Eggar and some of the other cast members?
Lesleh Donaldson: Samantha was more aloof. She was very nice, though. She would compliment me in a scene and stuff like that. She wasn’t snobby or anything. I thought she was sweet. Anne Ditchburn, I remember, was really wonderful because she used to help me with my routine. She was a dancer so she would give me pointers. Just a sweetheart. I adored her. Sandee Currie was great because she was so much fun. She was like her personality in the movie. Very bubbly and outgoing.
She was so pretty.
Lesleh Donaldson: She was. I talked about Lynne Griffin. I’ll just add that I was always a little nervous around her because I revered her so much. I adored her. In a way, she was keeping her distance because she was the killer. But she was sweet and fun. Linda Thorson, like Samantha, was sort of aloof.
Perhaps Samantha and Linda were aloof because they were thinking, “Oh, here we are…doing a horror movie.”
Lesleh Donaldson: That’s possible. But Lynne wasn’t like that at all. She takes everything she does seriously. It’s a big deal. She’s very professional that way. I’m not really sure how Samantha felt about what she was doing. I’m sure when the trouble started, it probably only exacerbated her. Lynne has better stories about her than I do because they spent more time together. I know she told the story in her interview with you about Eggar’s wardrobe.
That’s right. Did you like that one?
Lesleh Donaldson: I thought it was a great story. I didn’t know that. I could see it actually happening, too. I was thinking, “Okay…I’m glad I wasn’t in the room.” I’m just not that kind of person. I don’t like shit like that. Generally, I find that the most talented and most successful people are really down to earth. Maybe if they do something like that, they do it in a more subtle way. I don’t know.
It’s possible she was just getting into that part. Really, when Samantha walks into that dining room and you’re all getting ready to have dinner…it’s like she’s Joan Crawford meets Darth Vader.
Lesleh Donaldson: Yeah. She was perfect for that role. There was tension there. I’d say she was well cast. I mean that in a nice way. That was the role and she played it well. Maybe she was a Method Actress and she was in character on the set at times. When I would do a scene with her, she was very complimentary and sweet. I didn’t have any trouble with her. I didn’t see any of that stuff. I only had two scenes with her.
When we interviewed producer Peter Simpson, he told us about his vision of Curtains as a straightforward slasher and his clash with director Ciupka, who wanted to make more of an arthouse thriller.
Lesleh Donaldson: That’s right. He wanted an artistic, psychological thriller rather than an out and out horror movie like Prom Night. But I have to say, Simpson knew what worked. He was a producer and he knew what was selling at the time. It was Friday the 13th. It was My Bloody Valentine. That’s what he wanted. A slasher film. He didn’t want artistic. He wanted it to look good and he wanted the acting and directing to be good. But I don’t think he was concerned about it being complicated or “artsy.” Peter was looking to make just your regular by the book slasher. That’s what they clashed over and that’s why Richard walked off.
How aware were you of that conflict?
Lesleh Donaldson: Ciupka made no bones about telling us how he felt about the film. He was like, “This movie is a piece of shit!” He wasn’t happy with it. He wasn’t happy with the direction it was going and let us know his displeasure. At least me, and I think he told a couple of the others.
What did you think when he would tell you those things?
Lesleh Donaldson: Part of me thought, “If you don’t give a shit about it, why should I?” You know what I mean? I had kind of a disillusioned quality for a while about it.
Lesleh Donaldson: At some point, I actually thought it was never going to get finished. I really did. Because they didn’t get to the skating scene and I thought they would just ditch the whole thing. I thought, “They’re not gonna finish it. It’s not gonna happen. Oh, well! On to other things…” I was shocked when they told me to show up for the skating sometime around February or March of 1982. I was like, really? Again? And then they called me in the summer to film some backstory with Peter MacNeill, who was playing my high school lover. They wanted to show that Christie was a slut who slept with older men. I was thinking…why? I didn’t say anything. Obviously, I was working and so I was game with shooting the film and showing me as a slut.
Peter played your high school coach, is that right?
Lesleh Donaldson: Yes. I remember going to Seneca College and we filmed a scene out there where he dumps me. And I get upset, of course. It was one of those “we can’t be together” moments. My character was this university student. So I had this backstory, trying to justify why Christie would have slept with the John Vernon character. In other words, why would she go to bed with him, as opposed to Lynne or Sandee sleeping with him? I guess they were trying to work that one through and then tossed it out at the last minute.
Your character seemed so virginal. It almost wouldn’t have fit.
Lesleh Donaldson: I agree. It didn’t fit in to the story at all. She’s so innocent and naïve that she would have been swept up by Vernon anyway. Why throw in this backstory that I’m some conniving, loose girl?
Who shot the scene after you’ve slept with Vernon and you’re crying in his bed? Ciupka?
Lesleh Donaldson: I believe that was all Ciupka. Peter Simpson came in for the skating scene and the Peter MacNeill scene. Ciupka did that artistic stuff around the table, and my post-coital bedroom sequence, and also the scene where I’m snooping on John and Samantha when they’re fighting in Stryker’s bedroom.
How about the sequence in the girls’ bedroom goofing around with Lynne and Linda?
Lesleh Donaldson: Ciupka shot that. He shot all those scenes before Peter and he went separate ways.
When you mentioned that Richard thought the movie was a “piece of shit,” are you talking about the fact that he was getting disillusioned AS he was shooting those scenes?
Lesleh Donaldson: Yes. You could sense while he was doing it, he was desperately trying to do something unique. Like he really wanted to make it an artistic looking film. He wasn’t happy. It’s not that there was anybody yelling at anyone on the set, from what I can recall. If there was any really heavy stuff going on, it was mostly behind the scenes. At some point, he removed himself from the picture but that was when I wasn’t working on it.
Did his unhappiness affect the actors?
Lesleh Donaldson: Oh, absolutely. Definitely. It always does. To be honest, I actually preferred Peter Simpson. I really liked him. I thought he was hilarious. He had a big personality. And he liked me. I didn’t get that feeling from Richard. He was more of a distant kind of person. I was in shock to hear Peter had passed away because he just seemed like he could go on forever. He had so much energy and a lot of enthusiasm for movies. Peter loved moviemaking.
Old school producers we’ve talked to like him are great. They’re a bit on the rough side.
Lesleh Donaldson: Right, a little rough. He was one of those big, cigar guys. You know, he was kind of like Jonathan Stryker in a way. Not that he would sleep with any of the actresses or anything, but he was one of those “she’s got nice tits” men. He made no balls about who he was. And I think that’s funny. Sometimes. For me, Peter was a lot more fun to be around. He was like one of the crew guys. He would stand there and joke. As long as you gave a performance that he wanted, he loved it. He ate it up. It was easier to please him than Ciupka because Ciupka was going for something else.
Would you say that Richard Ciupka was a little too serious?
Lesleh Donaldson: Yes, I would. Too bad it didn’t work because it COULD have either way. It should have been done either way. It should have been an art film or an out and out slasher. It’s unfortunate that all this shit got in the middle of it and made it what it is. Which is…I don’t even know what it is! I’m happy people like it, though. That’s really great.
When you were doing the scene on the pond and you saw your stunt double coming towards you in the hag mask, was it surreal?
Lesleh Donaldson: Oh, yeah. It always is. Because you read your scene and you see that they’re shooting your death today. Everybody knows what’s happening on the set. It says “Christie dies” on the sheet. You know what’s coming. But it is surreal because you’re in it and you’re looking at all the stuff, and the mask, and thinking, “Oh shit, I hope she doesn’t accidentally hit me with that scythe!” All kinds of things are going through your head and you have to express shock and fear and all that stuff. What’s this doll? That’s odd. And what’s that coming towards me? You can’t play the fact that you’re gonna get it.
How long did that pond sequence take to shoot?
Lesleh Donaldson: Maybe two days. They did the ice skating scene and then me running through the snow.
Lynne told us she has a recollection of doing a scene on the stage with the dead bodies. Do you recall that?
Lesleh Donaldson: Lynne and I talked about that and I read it in your interview with her. You know what? I was NOT into taking drugs but I swear, I do not remember doing that scene on the stage.
Lesleh Donaldson: Nope. That scares me. Because, I’m like…did I have amnesia? (Laughs.) Maybe I did it and blocked the whole thing out. I don’t know.
Right, she mentioned your discussion to us.
Lesleh Donaldson: (In a British accent.) I don’t take hallucinogenics! (Laughs.) I must have been…bored? I don’t recall sitting in the makeup chair. Nothing.
What if you weren’t on that stage because they used a dummy instead? There’s an old production still that shows your character’s body without a head.
Lesleh Donaldson: That could be what it was.
Do you remember making a body cast?
Lesleh Donaldson: I remember making the body cast and I didn’t know why…because they hadn’t make a head cast for me. I have a Polaroid shot of the stuff going on me. I joked with them about putting that on my boobies. I even remember saying, “Oh, you’re not gonna do one of my head, are you? Because I hate that!” And they said, “No, your actual head will be in the toilet.”
Maybe they attached your lost head from Happy Birthday to Me to your new body for the stage scene in Curtains. Problem solved. No Lesleh required!
Lesleh Donaldson: Right! Maybe that was it. I vividly remember doing the head in the toilet scene. That was fun because I had to lie down in the toilet. They made a little toilet and they had it cut out and I laid down, and Linda opened the lid and screamed. I remember that. You could be right. It’s gotta be a mannequin on that stage. It looks like one to me. I’m not sure they had any of us there except for Lynne.
We’ve always had a theory about your body cast for Curtains. Remember when Sandee is running though the prop house and finds Anne Ditchburn’s body hanging among the costumes?
Lesleh Donaldson: Yeah…
Perhaps they made a cast of your character so it could be hanging there too, with all the other corpses.
Lesleh Donaldson: Or they could have had extras. Maybe they didn’t want to bring in the actual actresses and pay them. They would have had to pay them scale, whatever it was. So it’s possible they brought in some extras and dressed them up the way we died. That also could have been what happened.
We’re guessing that as with Funeral Home, you chose not to see any of the dailies for Curtains?
Lesleh Donaldson: No, I would never see the dailies for any of that stuff. Especially the way things were going on that one. That would not have been a good thing.
How many times did you return for reshoots?
Lesleh Donaldson: Let’s see. I was sent to the set once when they were gonna do the skating scene. It was up in the Muskoka area where they did Sandee’s scene in the tub with Michael, and some other scenes. They had me there for maybe three or four days and they didn’t get to me. They put me up in this hotel and kept me there. I hung out. And then they sent me home. I was like…oh, okay.
Lesleh Donaldson: I didn’t hear anything and then some months later, I got a call from them telling me they were finally going to shoot my death scene. Like I mentioned before, that would have been sometime in early 1982. I hadn’t really been skating at that point. I hadn’t been practicing because I didn’t know what the state of the movie was. I had not been in the rink every day getting up at five and practicing my routine.
That’s a mess of a movie.
Lesleh Donaldson: Yeah, so no wonder I tripped on the ice! There were a couple of reasons. It was the pond itself, plus I had not been working on my routine. I know you’ve heard this but there are people in Toronto who were crew and they have shirts that say something like “I was on one of the many shoots of Curtains.” It became a joke among the crew. Everybody and their dog worked on this picture.
We know the movie is imperfect. But why do you think people have such warm feelings towards Curtains all these years later?
Lesleh Donaldson: That’s a great question. I don’t know. I think it might be the idea of it and the possibility of how great it could have been. It is really a good idea and it hadn’t been done. I mean, it’s a slasher film but we were going for something different. I’m guessing that part of the charm is what a mishmash of ideas it is, and the fact that it had a lot of trouble. There’s sort of a mythology about the filming. There might be a fascination about that.
Apart from everything else about Curtains that may or may not work, you do realize why your scene on the pond — from a genre perspective — is amazingly brilliant?
Lesleh Donaldson: Yes. I do now. I didn’t at the time. I had no clue about any of that stuff. It was like, “I’m dying today.” However, I do realize now that it’s brilliant, because most kills happen at night. It’s in broad daylight. Although I guess in Friday the 13th, the hitchhiking girl got it in the daytime.
Lesleh Donaldson: I’m incredibly flattered that people remember that scene and they freak out over it. It’s caused nightmares! People have told me and I like hearing stuff like that. It makes it worth it. It really does. It makes me think I made all these horror movies back in the day, but they’re the ones that people remember! People aren’t talking about Meatballs. They’re talking about Curtains.
Lesleh Donaldson: I’m ecstatic about that. It’s so wonderful. I love it.
That’s great to hear. We should add that it’s not just that’s it daylight. It’s also that the pop song coming out of the cassette recorder is off-putting. It relaxes you and then BOOM! You’ve got the hag.
Lesleh Donaldson: Right. And the doll. It’s just so unexpected. It really is. There are certain moments in horror films like Janet Leigh in the shower, where you aren’t expecting something bad to happen.
Lesleh Donaldson: I’m not putting the skating scene in Curtains up there with the shower scene in Psycho! But maybe that’s why people like it. Because it evokes a similar kind of feeling. That feeling of it being completely unexpected. They didn’t see it coming.
That scene is one of the most memorable and chilling sequences from the film.
Lesleh Donaldson: I think it’s all the imagery of the sickle, the hag mask and daylight on the ice. It was so rarely done that way nobody really got killed during the day, except for in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Interview with composer Paul Zaza
Let’s talk about your score for Curtains. The music for this one really typifies the “Zaza sound.” Tell us what instruments you used during this period of your career to achieve that unique sound.
Paul Zaza: You always started with a string section. The string section would be violins, violas, cellos and basses. Those are the basic four levels of strings in the string family. Depending on your budget, you would either have ten violins, six violas, four cellos and two basses. And if you didn’t have much money, you went down to say four violins, a viola, a cello and a bass. You could have any variation of those numbers. But you always started with a string section. And then you would bring in your percussion, which are timpani, snare drums, bass drums, etc. Then you have your brass family, which are trombones, French horns, trumpets, tuba. The brass were very powerful for any stings you wanted to do, like the one in Curtains [during the prophouse scene]. The brass is the third very important family in the orchestra.
The chase music during the prophouse scene, for example: low strings, quick & foreboding – that was a cello?
Paul Zaza: Yes. Those are low cellos and basses. The fourth family is woodwinds. Flutes, oboes, clarinet, bassoons, piccolo. Anything that you blow into. You’ll notice that in Prom Night, I discovered an animal called the bass flute. It’s a flute, but it’s bass – so it’s very very low. And the damn thing is so big. A normal flute is about three feet long and you hold it, and you blow into it. Now if you picture a bass flute, it’s three times longer. In fact, it’s so long…because a human can’t get his arms around it, they have to bend the pipe so it curls up around. Like a drain on a drainpipe. It’s a real creepy instrument. You can hear it all throughout Prom Night.
And the crotales in Curtains, the cymbals that make those distinctive, chime-like sounds?
Paul Zaza: Yes, the brass discs. They look like CDs. Only they’re about 1/2 inch thick. They make very teardrop, glass crystalline sounds. I sort of discovered that for the teardrops coming out of the little doll in Curtains. That’s a percussion instrument because you hit it with a mallet.
It’s no secret Curtains was a mess of a production. Can you elaborate on what a troubled and labored project that one was?
Paul Zaza: A disaster. There was a script that didn’t make sense, and a director who went out and tried to get creative and deviate from the script that already didn’t make sense. And all it did was make the film even more incoherent. So you ended up with this real mish mash of basically “scenes” – that if you looked at them individually, you’d say “Hmmm…that’s pretty creepy.” But you put them all together and there’s no plot. There’s no reason for anything to happen. There’s no motivation for anything and it all had this sort of randomness about it.
Did you know Richard Ciupka, the original director on Curtains?
Paul Zaza: No. Because to be very honest, Ciupka wasn’t around much. He was let go very early on when Peter realized he had a big problem on his hands. His knee-jerk reaction was to get rid of the director. “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
The whole thing must have been frustrating for the cast and everyone involved.
Paul Zaza: Samantha Eggar was pissed off. But she wasn’t the only one. This thing was around for a LONG time, and any actor or actress on a film knows they have to come back to do things like ADR and looping, stuff like that to finish it off.
Paul Zaza: Automatic Dialogue Replacement. When they go in to a studio, put the headphones on and they put the words back in their own mouths.
Because for whatever reason, it wasn’t mic’d properly?
Paul Zaza: There could be a million reasons. There was an airplane that flew over, the mike didn’t work, a dog barked right over a quiet moment. There’s always some reason why the sound gets screwed up. So you artificially record it in a studio and it’s called looping. But we never got to the looping stage, because they kept re-shooting, and re-cutting, and changing, and re-writing it. And it wasn’t getting any better. The more they changed it, the more they needed to change it even more. We were all committed contractually to finish Curtains, but everybody was just hoping it would die. That there’d be a fire in the building that would burn the negative or something.
Did you interact with the cast at all?
Paul Zaza: Not on that one, no. I was brought onto it pretty much after they were done. They came back and did some re-shoots. But you’ve got to remember, over the two year period or whatever it was, I was doing other movies. I had my hands full with other films. Curtains was just kind of there on my desk. I knew I had to eventually deal with it, but I was hoping it would be later rather than sooner. There was no release date for it. There was no studio clamoring, waiting for the picture. It was just a tax shelter deal.
Do you remember seeing the ice skating scene with Lesleh Donaldson and the hag for the first time – and thinking “maybe here’s a moment”?
Paul Zaza: Yes. And there were some other things about the movie that I thought were kind of cool. Like the doll. I don’t know where they found that doll. It was just the creepiest looking doll I’d ever seen. It creeps me out just looking at it.
The killer’s “calling card.”
Paul Zaza: Yeah. So I thought, I could have some fun with that. And I did. The skating scene was cool, the way they slo-moed it down.
The music is great in that sequence, kind of Bernard Herrmann. Spirited and feisty.
Paul Zaza: Well, he was one of my idols and you know what they say about imitation. As I said earlier, individually, if you look at the scenes – they kind of work by themselves. But when you put them all together, you don’t have a cohesive film that has a plot that makes sense.
In our interview with producer Peter Simpson, he said something very complimentary about you. He said one of the big draws of working with you was that you already had your own studio and were ready to go. So you could get working on something immediately, and didn’t have to book the studio time and were ready to record.
Paul Zaza: Yeah. The other thing that Peter liked – and I love him, God bless him, I sure miss him – but he was first and foremost a businessman. He was a true film “producer” – much more so than a filmmaker or director. He loved the comfort of a package deal. Knowing that the studio, the musicians, the copyist, the composer’s fees…all of that could be bundled into one fee that he knew was not gonna go over budget.
He told us you had the talent and artistry to do a job, but just as importantly, had a commitment to deliver the product on time.
Paul Zaza: Many composers would say, “Okay…this is what I THINK it’s gonna cost. BUT if anything goes wrong, or you don’t like it – it’s going to be more.” It’s a gamble. By the time the producer gets to the music in his film, he’s already spent like 90% of his budget. Music is almost the very last thing to go on before the film gets released.
Isn’t there a certain amount of irony in that thinking? That is, music often plays a more important role in a horror film than in say, a drama or comedy. It’s really one of the primary tools a filmmaker can use to evoke fear..
Paul Zaza: That’s the way normal people might see it. But producers…when they’re in the trenches and shooting a movie, they almost always go over budget because there’s something they hadn’t budgeted for. They tried to blow up a bridge but it didn’t blow up properly so they’ve gotta do it again and need another $30,000. Where do they get it? They take it out of the backend…which is the post-production, where I come in. The music. And their attitude is always that they’ll figure it out when they get there. So they get there and they realize they have no money left. There’s no contingency. If the composer says, “No, we need another $30,000” – they don’t have it. They’ve used up their contingencies.
So what people like Peter Simpson and a handful of others liked…was that I would package the studio and the composing and the musicians. The whole thing. I took care of all of it. I even had a staff that did all the paperwork and the payroll and everything. I gave them a contract for such and such a fee. They would get this thing delivered to their satisfaction. Of course, after we delivered Prom Night to Peter, which was the first film I did for him – and a few others – he came to rely on me, and what I could promise him. He knew he would always get the score he wanted. And he knew it would never cost any more than I agreed to.
No fuss, no muss.
Paul Zaza: Yes. And Peter was more a businessman than anything else.
The other thing is, in Canada, when you made these low-budget horror films in the late ’70s and early ’80s, it wasn’t like Los Angeles. In L.A., they make just as many mistakes as we do here. But the difference is – they just get more money when they need to fix it. We can’t do that. When we have a problem and we’ve got to fix it, there’s no money. There’s no MGM or 20th Century Fox or Universal to bail us out.
Because these things were tax shelter deals.
as Jonathan Stryker
Peter R. Simpson
Peter R. Simpson
Robert Guza, Jr.
John Vernon as Jonathan Stryker
Linda Thorson as Brooke Parsons
Samantha Eggar as Samantha Sherwood
Anne Ditchburn as Laurian Summers
Lynne Griffin as Patti O’Connor
Lesleh Donaldson as Christie Burns
Sandee Currie as Tara DeMillo
Deborah Burgess as Amanda Teuther
Michael Wincott as Matthew
Maury Chaykin as Monty
Booth Savage as Peter, Amanda’s boyfriend