CURFEW (1989)

TAGLINE: “In By Ten… Dead By Midnight”

IMDB Rating: 3.8/10 (Suspicious voting patterns)

Film number 6. If this whole project were a marathon – which it’s starting to feel like – we’d only just be clearing the gates at St James’s Palace, with a chronic stitch, realising we hadn’t trained nearly hard enough. But we’re determined- and at some point, you just have to put one foot in front of the other and plough ever forward. We’re not exactly sure how you get shin splints from sitting on a leatherette sofa watching low quality films but we’re almost positive we can feel them coming on.

We’ve now agreed to take a random approach to choosing the order in which we are to watch these monstrosities. There’s a terrible danger that if we cherrypick too much – laughable though that is – we’ll be left stumbling through the final stages with only the very worst of the offensive to wade through. The whole point of this project is to scrape the bottom of the metaphorical barrel but we’ve always known there’ll be times when we’ll need to flip that barrel right over and start gently tonguing at the fetid oozings that have seeped through the base and are threatening to ruin the carpet.

And so it is in the spirit of this decision that ‘Curfew’ is the next movie slotted into the DVD player.  It looks a good contender for the worst-piece-of-sh*t-imaginable-to-the-human-mind we’ve encountered so far – so view we must, despite fearing we may soon resemble a couple of shell shocked infantrymen returning from Passchendale.

First impressions – something we’ve become increasing suspicious of in the past 5 films – are concerning. The creepy exterior of a seemingly innocent house on the DVD cover – soaked blood red to match the title (and cutely appealing tagline) is a plus. As is the announcement that this films was “PREVIOUSLY BANNED BY THE BBFC.” Have we turned a corner and unearthed a nugget of gold amongst this fetid dung heap of low rent cinema? Could this be a long-forgotten video nasty? A movie cast asunder by the ravings of the censorship-obsessed 1980s media but even now still cruelly overlooked while its Evil Dead brethren are so vehemently championed? Crushing realisation comes in the length of time it takes for a standard DVD player to respond to the [PLAY] button being pressed on a remote control.

We haven’t – but probably should – have had a stopwatch running at the beginning of each viewing of these films but even with no physical evidence to back this up, we’re still pretty sure that Curfew represents the earliest that we have had to pause a film to utter what has since become an oft-repeated catchphrase:

“This is f*cking rubbish.”

First off we’re introduced to our heroine, Stephanie Davenport, a high school girl leading two lives. At home, butter wouldn’t melt. At school – but more often in whatever post-school teenage hangouts she finds herself in – it’s melting just fine thank you very much. At home, she’s Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween. Everywhere else, she’s Jamie Lee Curtis in Trading Places.

Into her and her family’s life come a pair of recently-escaped psycho killer brothers, Ray Don and Bobby Joe Perkins – but for clarity’s sake let’s just call them Backward Ass F*ck Southern Criminal Stereotype #1 and Backward Ass F*ck Southern Criminal Stereotype #2. It turns out that young Stephanie’s Pa – a local District Attorney – was the lawyer instrumental in sending the good ol’ boys down all those years ago. And now they’re back. For revenge. On the man that wronged them . And his family too. Just like Robert Mitchum did in Cape Fear. And Robert De Niro as well. But now there are two guys. So this is completely different. Honest.

And that’s basically it. Mom, Dad and wannabe sexpot daughter are kept prisoner in their own home by a pair of killers who first threaten to kill them, then promise to kill them, then guarantee that they will definitely kill them but then ultimately, despite being provided with every imaginable opportunity, don’t end up killing anyone – oh, apart from a bit part cop and an Art Garfunkel look-a-like who strays into the house to have sex with his girlfriend. For some reason.

We’ve only bothered mentioning this second murder because it coincides with the first female breasts we’ve seen in 5 and a half films so far. We honestly thought these films – being low grade, low budget, low quality pieces of crap designed to appeal solely to 15 year old left hand strummers– would be wall to wall lady bits. After all, if you’re looking to supply cheap thrills on a budget then a girl whipping her top off costs a lot less than a blood squib or full body monster makeup.

Unfortunately, this wonderfully tawdry and unnecessary nudity is the highpoint of the film, edging out an earlier scene in which a pensioner is subjected to the most gentle ‘savage beating’ in the history of cinema. Or possibly the moment when Stephanie reports a robbery to the police, but neglects to mention the double homicide of the local judge and his wife that she also discovered. Sometimes these things can slip a girl’s mind.

Ultimately you wonder how or why this ‘horror’ got made. Experience tells even the average moviegoer that more often than not, the most offensive aspect of a BANNED film is that it’s rubbish. It wasn’t until we’d finished watching this – and given ourselves suitable time in a sanatorium to properly recover – that we began to wonder why the thing had been banned in the first place. Yes, there’s violence. Yes, there are innocent people in peril. Yes, the hairstyles leave no doubt as to the moral turpitude of the filmmakers, but it’s no worse that the mildly offensive stuff being released under the 12A certificate in British cinemas every week of every year.

All in all, the most unsettling part of Curfew – a misnomer in itself as in two screenings of the film, we’ve yet to hear mention of any character having a pre-allotted home time – is without doubt, the lead actress’ eyebrows. Seriously, her forehead looks as though a deadly game of chicken between a pair of aged caterpillars is really struggling to get going.

What’s also terrifying is what happens when you look a little closer at the people involved in this fiasco. This is going to feel a little like the freeze frame moments at the end of American Graffiti or Animal House when the audience is told what subsequently happened to the characters. In any kind of just system, there should only be one caption for the entire cast and crew of ‘Curfew’ and it should read thus:

Everyone was so sorry for what they had done, they killed themselves.

Unfortunately this did not happen.

Kyle Richards – who, along with both her eyebrows, plays Stephanie Davenport, turns out to be one of Paris Hilton’s aunts – a factoid which, we suspect, she drops into conversation a lot more than her starring role in Curfew.

kyle richards paris hilton
“I’m a worse actress than you”. “No, I’m worse”.


Wendell Wellman – that’s Backward Ass F*ck Southern Criminal Stereotype #1 to you – seems to have supplemented any monies he’s earned as a terrible, terrible actor with the occasional writing gig. Among them, the Clint Eastwood cold war thriller ‘Firefox’ – a film which, right up until the point of starting this project, we truly believed to be the most boring film ever made about super-advanced military aircraft. We know better now.

John Putch (BAFSCS#2) is now a successful director of episodic TV comedy – most notably ‘Scrubs’.

But perhaps the crowning glory of the movie’s alumnus is Niels Mueller who moved on from white-boy-fro-sporting knife fodder teen, to write and direct the rather splendid 2004 Sean Penn drama, ‘The Assassination of Richard Nixon’. Somehow we doubt there’s a copy of ‘Curfew’ sitting next to it on his Mum’s DVD shelf.

 Sadly, it’s better in Spanish

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