STAGEFRIGHT (1987) Reviews of Michele Soavi’s slasher

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StageFright -Aquarius- is a 1987 Italian slasher horror film directed by Michele Soavi (Dellamore, Dellamorte; The SectThe Church). Also known as Stage Fright, Bloody Bird, Deliria.

The movie stars Barbara Cupisti, David Brandon (Everlake) and Giovanni Lombardo Radice.

Scripted by Anthropophagous actor George Eastman (as Lew Cooper). Aristide Massaccesi [aka Joe D’Amato] served as the film’s producer.

StageFright – Aquarius – was Soavi’s first feature film as director; he had previously worked as an assistant director for D’Amato, Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava and had previously directed the music video “The Valley” for Argento’s Phenomena as well as the documentary Dario Argento’s World of Horror.

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A group of young dancers rehearsing in an old theatre is deliberately locked-in for the night by the obsessive director. However, they are not alone. In the shadows, someone is watching, waiting and selecting victims at his demented leisure.

Deranged serial killer Irving Wallace has escaped and is about to put on his own real-life horror show!

The scene where Brett bows in front of the mirror to reveal Wallace standing directly behind him is a homage to Dario Argento’s film Tenebrae (1982), for which Michele Soavi was an assistant director.

During a screening at the Fantasia Film Festival fans threw white feathers from the theatre balcony which showered down on the audience in homage to the haunting finale of the film.


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StageFright is far from perfect. The acting is variable, the dialogue terrible and there are several moments that are likely to induce unsolicited laughter.

There is no escaping the fact that the owl mask is ludicrous, though once you get used to it, it becomes more effective. And it’s certainly an exercise in style over substance, all effort going into making the film look great rather than hold together as a story.

However, StageFright holds up rather better than you might expect for a film so wedded to Eighties imagery. It might ultimately be little more than fluff, but it’s entertaining fluff.
David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:
“Here’s a maniac that finally seems to be having a grand old time, without disrupting scenes with endless one-liners (like that Krueger guy). All in all, Stage Fright is the last truly great slasher, maintaining the integrity of the form while making it leaner and even more cinematic, and spinning it with a self-reflexive twist.” Cinema Gonzo

“The first two acts of the movie has some very stylish shots, but there’s no doubt that the pedestrian nature of the story (killer chases people) keeps things a tad neutral. However, the last 30 minutes are the movie’s saving grace, as the production design and Soavi’s interesting set-ups combine to create a slasher film with a very unique look.” DVD Sleuth

“Soavi’s direction is solid, displaying a keen visual eye for audacious Giallo-styled frissons that bolster the production with a classy elegance all its own. In true Italian style, Soavi pulls no punches either when it comes to his marvellously gruesome murder set pieces, even managing to generate some well-handled tension along the way to the obligatory twist ending. Clearly derivative, but eminently unforgettable.” SGM

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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