Director: Michele Soavi
Clain Parker/Irving Wallace
A group of snotty actors rehearsing for some twisted horror-like musical wind up trapped in a theatre with an escaped madman on the prowl. With his groovy howl mask and his touching fondness for power tools, psycho-boy teaches these lousy players the TRUE meaning of stage fright. On with the show!
"Stage Fright" was Italian actor and Argento protégé Michele Soavi’s directorial debut. He went on to direct the awesome "Cemetery Man" (Dellamorte, Dellamore for the purists) and hasn’t helmed any horror flicks since (he’s directed two made-for-TV action films though…ugh?). Where are you, dude? We miss ya in hell bro! Although far from original (but really what slasher is?), "Stage Fright" is still rock solid and oozes of the promise that Soavi would eventually fulfill 100% with "Cemetery Man".
The film’s story might be fairly routine stuff: useless folks are trapped in an enclosed area with killer; killer hunts them down like Elmer Fudd on PCP but Soavi succeeds in making the more standard elements feel fresh. In my “Necronomicon” what makes "Stage Fright" such a treat are first off its astounding visuals. Soavi is a freaking artist and a half when it comes to this film’s aesthetics! Everything from the use of bluish lighting, slick ass shots and crazy angles had me foaming with delight. There’s one particular scene in this plasma party that will always stand out for me. It’s when the killer is sitting on the stage, surrounded by dead bodies as feathers float all around him (due to a wind machine). I was creaming my shorts. Every time I see the sequence, I think to myself: that’s the kind of vibe I want to deliver when I direct my feature. Talk about morbid and dream-like beautiful! I LOVE IT!
Now there’s no whodunit as to whom the killer is in this bad boy. We know who the crazed bird is from the get-go. That allows the film to get to the point faster (no red herrings here) and it gets to it hard. Apart from the sharp images, the red drenched (and I mean red) murders are, without a doubt, the highlights of the picture. Soavi constantly toys with the length of the build-ups leading to the kills and in consequence, took me aback a few times (like the chainsaw bit…yippee!). Of course, the fact that most of the characters are annoying pricks did lessen the impact of the tension-inclined scenes sometimes (I was cheering the killer on) but I will admit to chewing my nacho plate (yes, the plate!) in fear when that “chick going to get the key” sequence kicked in. Brrrrrr.
And what about our friendly mass murderer, you may ask? Is he the money? YOU BET HE IS! I really dug the fact that bird boy had an acting background; it left way for him to occasionally express his artistic side. For example, the way he meticulously placed the corpses on the stage suggested the soul of an artist. Sure, the guy is freaking insane but that’s just a technicality. I don’t know if it’s just me but I picked up on a possible motive for our hooded friend: creation through chaos. I really liked that spin and it worked for me. Physically, our killer does look a little different than the usual chop-chop nut; he wears a big ass owl head as a mask. It did feel a little awkward at first, but I quickly got used to the left field headgear and it eventually gave me the freaking creeps.
On a sour note, the film does sport a dumb “cops parked outside” filler subplot that didn’t bring anything to the story except atrocious lines and failed humor. I also really would’ve liked at least one fully sympathetic character to root for in this sea of arrogant, idiotic nitwits. The ending also had me scratching my ass in wonder. It serves us a double dose of plot holes: 1) how did the killer survive his just dessert and 2) how did he survive his coup-de-grace? Last I checked, he wasn’t "The Terminator". And last but not least, why in Mickey Rourke’s name does that black dude feel the need to repeat the same damn fucking line a zillion times over during the last frames. He made my ears bleed!
But on a whole, this film’s faults don’t come close to ruining the experience that is "Stage Fright". I adored this sucker almost as much as I relish watching Jenna Jameson’s many erotic girl-on-girl masterpieces. Its story is far from original, but the execution is mucho unique and that makes this familiar dish taste sweeter than [fill in the blank yourselves]. Grab the axe, rev the chainsaw…let's kill some bad actors! DIE!!!!!!!
Man, does this guy get busy or what? We get a pickaxe in the head, chainsaw action, a dude getting drilled, some axe fun, a chick cut in two, severed heads, bloody stabbings and a bullet in the head…you get the picture…FUN STUFF!
Barbara Cupisti (Alicia) didn’t do it for me physically and her character came across as big whiny baby…and she’s the lead! David Brandon (Peter) is the better actor here; he plays the typical prick director to a T. Clain Parker (Irving Wallace) just looks plain crazy. NOTE: According to my tastes, the ladies here weren't "all that". Some hot stuff would’ve been nice.
T & A
Some naked broad, but we don’t see much. The females get dudes in tights.
Soavi bathes the film in a gorgeous aura of blue dread. His shots are also on the ball; the suspense is high and the camera movements mucho impressive. The man’s an ace.
Simon Boswell, Guido Annelli and Stefano Mainetti all pitched in to create this amazingly eerie and effective score. Wow!
If you dig slashers and you haven’t witnessed "Stage Fright" yet, I strongly recommend you hunt it down with all the violence you can muster and get ready for a REAL slash-slash offering. With all the crappy wannabees that we’ve been getting lately, I almost forgot how much an honest gory hack-hack or vroom-vroom (that’s a chainsaw) always managed to touch my broken heart. Thank you Mr. Soavi for bringing the love back. "Stage Fright" devours the likes of "H20" for breakfast and nonchalantly asks for seconds after puking it out. DANG!
This film is also known as Bloody Bird, Sound Stage Massacre, Stage Fright: Aquarius and Deliria.