Curfew (DVD)

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Curfew (DVD)

Two brothers are sent to prison for seven years for murder. Now they've escaped they are after the men who sent them there...

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Review of "Curfew (DVD)"

published 12/10/2017 | 16BitFlash
Member since : 04/02/2017
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Curfew (DVD)

Curfew (DVD)

2 trends that would intertwine countless times over the course of the 1980s were the emergence and boom of not only home video in the form of VHS tapes and also the ascendency of the ‘Slasher’ sub-genre of horror pictures. While horror films had been a staple cinematic genre since the earliest days of the art, the release of John Carpenter’s Halloween in 1978 ushered in a different kind of horror movie. While Halloween itself is actually a very well crafted, tight and atmospheric horror picture, its low budget, contemporary setting and very human protagonist who stalks and kills his prey in violent, brutal fashion would open the floodgates for a host of imitators. The issue was, that it was hard to try and replicate Carpenter’s talent for music and atmosphere, so instead opted to take its concept and try to up the ante in terms of nastiness and violence.

As such a glut of cheap, nasty horror pictures would flood the shelves during the decade of the 80s, each trying to out gore and shock the next. While there are plenty of examples of these films actually providing a precursor to wider talents, with a host of actors and directors who would go on to carve highly respected careers cutting their teeth in low budget horror titles in the 80s, there are countless other examples of horror movies released during this period which slipped through the cracks. Today’s subject, 1989’s Curfew is one such picture.

Actually banned by the BBFC until 2002, Curfew is not only one of the least known of the ‘video nasties’ but also one of the most bizarre cases of a film earning that dubious honour. Interestingly, once it finally was accepted, nothing was even made of its previously banned status, and it quickly found its place in the budget DVD market, being a cornerstone of pretty much every 4/6/8/10 for £5 DVD package for a while. That’s how I came to see it, on one such package I’d purchased on the strength of another title I’d forgotten.

The movie follows Stephanie Davenport (Kyle Richards) a teenage girl in small town America who has scored a date with her school’s star quarterback. The only problem is that she has to make it home before the strict curfew set by her father Walter (Frank Miller) and mother Megan (Jean Brooks) without compromising this. When she does come home, her high school it factor becomes the least of her worries when it turns out two psychopaths named Ray and Bob Perkins (Wendell Wellman and John Putch) whom her father sent to death row in his role as DA have not only escaped, but have kidnapped her parents. The night turns into a battle for survival as the Davenports try to outsmart and escape their captors.

That may be as brief a plot summary as I’ll ever write, but that’s realistically the calibre of plot we’re dealing with in Curfew. The film’s plot could actually be seen as having more in common with Wes Craven’s exploitation sickener The Last House On The Left than Halloween, with the home invasion angle being something that particular film made famous, but at a time when the genre seemed to be indulging in excess at every opportunity, Curfew leaves you feeling decidedly underwhelmed. While the brothers Perkins do commit some heinous acts of torture on the Davenports, it never even encroaches on the despicable acts of Craven’s film, released almost 20 years prior. While I’m not advocating every horror should feel the need to go down that route, Curfew is deliberately trying to evoke memories of it with this plot, and as such comes up feeling rather…neutered. It contemplates trying to give some depth to the Perkins, by making Bob simple and attempting to make him sympathetic, but this entire notion is half-baked and forgettable, and realistically the pair both come across as morons, which makes you question how they managed to escape Death Row in the first place.

Furthering this is the fact that what killings there are in the picture, which by 1989 had become the draw of any horror movie, are unimaginative, and laughably largely take place offscreen. One has to imagine this was due to budgetary constraints, given that the movie actually looks like it was shot in the mid 1970s it’s safe to say that the film wasn’t exactly made with a huge wallet behind it. That’s no excuse for the film’s chronically bad pacing and complete lack of atmosphere or tension however.

Likewise, it can’t excuse the abhorrent performances played out by the cast, which realistically is reminiscent of a made for TV movie, and a bad one at that. Richards had been a supporting player in Halloween, but had found herself restricted largely to TV roles afterwards. Perhaps she had seen this as her chance of recapturing that film’s glory for herself. Perhaps she should have read the script before signing right enough.

Curfew is a film I find it hard to generate much of a response to. It’s a dull, uninvolving dirge of a picture that did not inspire me in the slightest. The epitome of cheap and awful 1980s horror. Even the most die-hard genre enthusiast is going to struggle to take anything out of this. Arguably the most puzzling thing about the picture is that while it was a first outing for director Gary Winick, he would go on to success in a completely different field, as director of films like 13 Going On 30, Bride Wars, and oddest of all the recent version of Charlotte’s Web.

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  • catsholiday published 14/10/2017
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Two brothers are sent to prison for seven years for murder. Now they've escaped they are after the men who sent them there...


Listed on Ciao since: 24/04/2005