Directed by Michele Soavi
Starring: Barbara Cupisti, David Brandon, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, and Mary Sellers
Running Time: 92 minutes
A dance troupe is preparing for their debut of a ballet about a murderer and his victim. When Alicia (Barbara Cupisti) injures her ankle during the performance, she and her friend, Betty (Ulrike Schwerk), the seamstress, sneak out of rehearsals and drive to the nearest hospital. The closest hospital is actually a mental institution and they soon leave unknowingly allowing an escaped homicidal maniac to hitch a ride with them back to the theater. Peter (David Brandon), the director, is furious with Alicia for leaving during rehearsals and quickly fires her.
Betty's murdered body is found in the parking lot outside the theater when Alicia tries to go home. The police arrive and the media shows up as well inspiring Peter to use the murder to promote the ballet. Assuming the killer has fled the scene of the crime, Peter locks all the actors inside for the rest of the night to finish rehearsing. His folly is realized soon enough when the killer who was hiding inside all along begins slaughtering the actors one by one.
Michele Soavi (Dellamorte Dellamore,
The Sect) shines in his feature film debut,
Stage Fright. The lighting, the detailed set-pieces, and the cinematography come together perfectly making this a very memorable film. There are plenty of surreal and even sublime moments of pure madness and bloody horror to make one hell of a crowd-pleaser. Never one to take anything too seriously, Soavi casts himself as a bumbling cop and gives the film an unbelievably hilarious false start.
The acting gets pretty silly during the film but never sinks below the required slasher-esque emoting. David Brandon
(Delirium: Photo Of Gioia) is great as the pretentious and truly foul, Peter. "John Morghen" himself, Giovanni Radice
(City of the Living Dead,
Cannibal Ferox) has to be seen to be believed as the effeminate and wince-inducing, Brett. Barbara Cupisti (Dellamorte Dellamore,
The Church) rocks as the heroine, Alicia.
It's impossible not to get caught up in the action once the ball gets rolling and the characters start dropping like flies. Taking cues from both the Italian
giallo and the American slasher, this film has one hell of a bloody body count and is populated by characters making foolish mistakes that lead to their demise. The gory deaths in
Stage Fright are committed by one of the strangest costumed killers in slasher history.
Every horror fan needs to check out the films of Michele Soavi and this is a fine place to start. The stalking scene in the theater's showers alone is enough to make any slasher freak tremble with delight. The film gets a little cheesy due to the performances of some of the cast and its very dated 80s feel but this is all part of the fun. Unless you have
a serious aversion to owl masks then I can't think of a single reason not to check out