Deliria – STAGE FRIGHT – The Dungeon Review!

stage fright dvd“The theatre of death”

One of my favorite horror films from the 90’s is Dellamorte Dellamore (aka Cemetary Man) directed by Michele Soavi. In 1985 Soavi completed the documentary ‘Dario Argento’s World of Horror’ and in 1987 he made his feature length film debut with ‘Stage Fright’. An impressive foray into the slasher genre.

The cast and crew of a stage play are locked inside a theatre with a recently escaped killer.

By no means does Soavi reinvent the wheel, but he definitely adds his own unique filming flair to ‘Stage Fright’. It’s easy to see the Argento influence. Following cables along the floor and through doorways, extended shots of inanimate objects. The production value and excellent direction from Soavi definitely elevates this film above many a slasher. The vast majority of the film takes place inside the theatre, so props are limited but what is used works extremely well. The theatre itself is a solid setting for a massacre and there are copious shadowed corners and hidden places for our killer. The owl head the killer wears is super cool. It is without a doubt my favorite thing about ‘Stage Fright’.

still from stage fright

The film doesn’t feel overly dated, but certainly the fashion and music is reflective of the decade. There is a variety of characterizations ranging from self-involved jerk, to those you might feel compelled to root for. The performances were generally pretty good, although not particularily memorable. The effects are decent and the gore is moderate. I would have liked to have seen some more creative kills but there are still a few memorable ones here. There is some decent moments of tension throughout. I particularily liked the scene of the owl-man just sitting calmly with a black cat in his lap on the stage. Also impressive is the scene where the female lead is searching underneath the stage floor for a key she seen poking through. It is a rather frustrating scenerio for the group locked inside the building. The body of a female crew member was found dead in their parking lot earlier that day, so the cops have posted a car right outside the theatre door. There is literally about 10 feet between the front door they spend time banging on, and the cop car outside. It is also a stormy night with torrential downpours and lightening. It probably would have been wiser to have called it a night. But it is a slasher after all, and it would have been a pretty short film if they had all went home. I found the DVD sound to be somewhat troublesome at times. There were a couple of scenes where the music is too loud for the dialog. Overall though, I would say that ‘Stage Fright’ is a damn solid Italian slasher. Anyone who enjoys Italian horror and/or slasher films from the 80’s should find much to like here. Recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: Michele Soavi

Starring: David Brandon, Barbara Cupisti, Domenico Fiore, Robert Gligorov, Mickey Knox, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Clain Parker, Loredana Parrella and Martin Philips

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