While rehearsing a musical play in a theater, the dancer Alicia twists her ankle and the costume designer Betty drives her to a nearby hospital. However, the place is a mental institution but a doctor treats Alicia's ankle. They return to the theater but the dangerous psychopath Irving Wallace escapes hidden in Betty's car. He kills Betty outside the theater and Alicia finds her body. They summon the police and the director Peter decides to promote the play using the press and supported by the producer Ferrari. He rewrites the screenplay and casts six actors and actresses to immediately rehearse to the opening night, promising additional payment. He asks the actress Corinne to lock the theater and hide the keys. But Irving Wallace has sneaked in the theater and starts a crime spree. Will anyone survive the serial-killer?Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The carnivorous fish that the nurse is shown feeding at the mental hospital is a 'lion fish'. See more »
In the scene where the girl is cut in half, it is later revealed she was cut in half by a chainsaw. However, as this was happening, there wasn't single noise coming from the chainsaw. See more »
I... I just went to get the gun, trying to show you how to put a bullet in the chamber. See that? I got him right between the eyes! Just like I said... Right between the eyes! Damn... You see that Ally? Right betw... right between the eyes! Just like I said. Between... between the eyes. Got him... I got him, right between the eyes Ally! I got the fucker right between the eyes. Right between the eyes Ally. Just like I said... Right between the eyes!
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The original 1986 UK Avatar video release was pre-cut by around 11 secs before BBFC submission with edits to a pickax murder, the drill murder, and the stabbing of Laurel. Later issues on the Redemption and Vipco labels were fully uncut. See more »
Michele Soavi's feature film debut as a director was this film, Stage Fright (aka Aquarius and Deliria) from 1987. The film was produced by veteran producer, cinematographer and director Aristide Massaccessi aka Joe D'Amato, who is responsible for many hard core porn films, action adventures and horror exploitationers from Anthropophagous the Beast to Buio Omega. Stage Fright is written by Luigi Montefiori aka George Eastman, the man who played the cannibalistic monster in D'Amato's Anthopophagous and Anthropophagous 2: Absurd, so Soavi's debut has many great names in its credits. The actors are also great and include Barbara Cupisti in lead role as Alicia, John Morghen (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) and the director himself in little role as a police officer. D'Amato gave Soavi pretty much freedom to do this film and he did the right thing by trusting this young talent: the result is fantastic piece of slasher cinema.
A group of stage play actors and crew members are practicing their newest number, a horror musical which seems and sounds by the way pretty interesting. It rains hard and one of the actresses hurts her leg, so she and her friend have to visit the hospital nearby. Everything goes fine, despite the fact that in the same hospital, there is a dangerous psychopath killer in mental health therapy and the same guy committed horrible murder some years ago. When he hears some young females are in the hospital, old memories start come his mind and willing to kill seems to be born again. When the girls return to the set, they soon find themselves trapped inside the huge building and someone killing them one by one. This is the structure of this film, and even though it sounds very usual, the film is very noteworthy and made by talented people.
There are great visuals in this film, and it is easy to see Soavi had been working with Argento before his own directorial career. There are twisted camera drives and angles and many little, but more than effective details, which are also among the elements that make Argento's masterpieces so great. There are many worth mentioning scenes and details in Soavi's film, and one is definitely the use of dummies especially at the very end of the film. They are so incredibly ominous at the end scene that it seems like which of the dummies is just dummy and which the killer! Totally stunning imagery and Soavi reminds me of another great horror director, Scott Spiegel, whose films are also full of little but effective details and crazy camera angles/drives. Spiegel is perhaps more positively crazy director than Soavi, who is pretty calm director, but they definitely share this unique style and innovation in their film making.
There are many scenes that will scare the viewer especially if the film is viewed in peace and alone in the dark, as recommended. The mask the killer wears is very scary and also many memorable scenes include that mask. The tension lasts throughout the film and Soavi really does great job by using visuals and also music in creating atmosphere and tension so rarely found in nowaday horror efforts. The murders themselves are very gruesome, but also very stylish and not too gratuitous, and that is another thing Soavi has learned without a doubt from Argento. The murders in Stage Fright are gory at times, and they may offend some viewers, but still I think they only serve the film as a whole, since the scenes are horrific without showing too much. I had seen the film previously on murky and bad quality VHS which didn't reveal as near as many little details than the version I saw now. Soavi shows very little at times, but it is much more than if he had shown "more"!
The only negative thing in this extraordinary film I found is the ending, since I don't know what it's all about. I mean the character who stays repeating line "Right between the eyes.." What is the point in this since it is so stupid and gratuitous, especially when the characters are mostly pretty believable and personal in this film. I would like to ask Montefiori, why he included such stupid ending in his screenplay, since it tones a little bit down the whole film and I really was left wondering what's the point in this repeating.
The stupid end is easy to forgive since there are so many positive things about this film. I really appreciate Soavi's work on this film, and also on his other films, like La Setta (Sect), La Chiesa (The Church) which are his films I've also seen. Hopefully this talent manages to continue his personal line and do more films, despite the fact that as a horror/fantasy director, Italy is not as great place to live and work as possible. Stage Fright deserves 9/10 from me.
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