Welcome to my column dedicated to the appreciation of physical media supplements called: Feature Presentations. The goal of this column is not to say whether a film is good or bad and worth picking up or not—I would like to highlight the discs that go the extra mile and provide film fans with enough tasty tidbits to satisfy even the hungriest of cinephiles. With all that out of the way, today’s article will focus on the Vinegar Syndrome release of Curfew.
I’ve mentioned in past articles that I came into Vinegar Syndrome late, by collector standards, early 2021. As I looked over their releases up to that point, I wasn’t sure why collectors were over the moon with Vinegar Syndrome. The films within their catalog were titles I was unfamiliar with or movies I was familiar with and did not feel the need to add them to my collection. “Maybe this label wasn’t for me,” I figured.
Then Black Friday arrived.
For those unfamiliar, Vinegar Syndrome allows consumers one time out of the year to become a subscriber. What does that entail? You are signed up to receive their new releases every month of the following year. Yes, you have to pay the subscriber fee upfront, but you automatically get multiple films a month, whether you want them or not. This may not sound appealing initially, but it sometimes works in a film fan’s favor. You may never have picked up films that are part of the subscription, but now it gets dropped in your lap. Over a quarter of the way through the subscription, I can say that my overall feelings are positive about the releases sent my way. It’s a crapshoot; some films are diamonds in the rough, others are just rough.
And this leads me to the release of 1989’s Curfew.
As I mentioned earlier, the catalog of Vinegar Syndrome had plenty of films that flew under my radar. From obscure horror to sex comedies and even hardcore, there’s a lot at Vinegar Syndrome I had yet to experience. So, when January rolled around, I opened my first package of the year and was greeted with an assortment of films ranging from movies I recall from childhood to the obscure. Wedged in between these was a late 1980’s home invasion thriller, Curfew.
Before getting into the disc, I want to talk about the packaging. Vinegar Syndrome typically releases films with hard-bound slipcovers, and Curfew has one. I’m not a fan of this cover—lacking in colors and a mishmash of images, but it might appeal to you. Also of note, the Blu-ray disc case comes with reversible art; one side with Vinegar Syndrome’s art, the other showcasing the film’s original theatrical print.
Curfew is a difficult film to review. Not to say it is complicated or hard to describe, it’s a movie that doesn’t offer much to discuss. The film tells the story of two escaped convict brothers who seek vengeance on those who put them away. Eventually, they take a family hostage, and the rest of the film follows the family trying to survive the night.
It’s a weird movie. In the first third, the film struggles to find the correct pacing as we follow the convicts on their vengeance intercut with the lives of those who will cross the brothers’ paths. After this, the film finds its footing as the home invasion story kicks in. From here, Curfew plays out in a straightforward manner all the way to the end credits.
What makes Curfew weird, to me at least, is how bland and unremarkable it is. The plot is pedestrian, the gore is tame, the brothers are unmemorable, and there’s nothing we haven’t seen before. The film didn’t excite me or enrage me. I sat there; it played, then it ended. It’s like a bowl of oatmeal. It’s there, and it does the job; I’m not sure why Vinegar Syndrome felt the urge to obtain the rights. It’s competently filmed, and the script gets you from Point A to Point B, but as I’m writing this, I’m struggling to recall moments from the film I watched only a handful of hours ago.
To go along with an unremarkable film, Vinegar Syndrome only included two interviews and the theatrical trailer on this disc. The first interview, “Mind Games,” is conducted with actor Wendell Wellman. I’ll admit, Wellman makes for an engaging interview discussing how he got into the entertainment business and the production of Curfew. Wellman gives an affable and even-keeled interview during “Mind Games,” where I wish the film came out as enjoyable as this sitdown.
The other interview on the disc, ” Still Scary,” features editor Carole Kravetz Aykanian. As with the first interview, Aykanian reminisces about the production and has positive recollections about her time on set. Thankfully, being the editor, “Still Scary” focuses on her work and the challenges of editing 35mm film, and her experiences over the years. Both interviews do their jobs and are fine. It kind of fits with the film. There’s nothing earth-shattering gathered from either interview, but they are digestible and welcome. Aside from the theatrical trailer I mentioned above, that’s all she wrote.
And there you have it! I wish I had more to say about the film or the physical media release, but there isn’t. Curfew is fine for what it is, and the supplements are fine, though minimal. If you like home invasion thrillers, you can do much worse than Curfew, but you can also do better.