Blu-ray Review: ‘Stagefright’ (1987)

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Stars: David Brandon, Barbara Cupisti, Domenico Fiore
Director: Michele Soavi
Distributor: Chain Production

“You’re supposed to be a whore… Is that too much to ask?!”

Fresh from a 4K restoration, 1987’s Stagefright is the latest addition to Shameless Films’ sleazy sensations. Pictured on the front cover is the Night Owl wielding a chainsaw, but make no mistake – this isn’t Peter Gabriel in Genesis, but instead a psychotic killer with a theatre production at his whim. 

Released as Deliria, this sinister slasher marked the feature debut of former Dario Argento protege, Michele Soavi. Many traits of Argento are present, though this isn’t quite full Giallo. As expected, Stagefright is routinely bizarre from the get go. A theatre production group rehearsing under the manic vision of director, Peter (David Brandon), find themselves under lock and key until the director is satisfied with their performances individually and collectively – and they’re legitimately bizarre. The play – both sadistic and violent – is ultimately mirrored, but with much more legitimacy when a psychotic killer sneaks a ride with two of the cast members on their return to the theatre. What could go wrong?

As chaos ensues, Stagefright delivers exactly what’s expected. Brutal murder. With these films, the top questions asked and demanded by audiences are: how do the victims get killed? And how does the Final Girl survive? Aside from that, where is the interest? What is the interest? Whilst gory and gruesome, there is a lack of tension and fright in this slasher, but instead, there are slices of jet black comedy to be endured whenever a stupendously ridiculous kill occurs. Bloody fun! Despite the ongoings to be completely predictable and routine with this genre, and vulgar also, Soavi manages to overcome these discrepancies with a terrific presentation of the action and cinematography. Slasher films shouldn’t look this good. In addition to the impressive upgraded visuals, the score is excellent too – the music team of Simon Boswell, Guido Anelli and Stefano Mainetti deliver an exciting, yet atmospheric score. Perfect for an ambiance which doesn’t require heavy tension.

As per with Shameless Films, their releases come equipped with great extras. For the Stagefright Blu-ray, here is what’s to be expected:

  • Interview: Director Michele Soavi “Staging the Fright”
  • Interview: Actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice “The Theater of Blood”
  • Interview: Actor David Brandon “The Last Performance”
  • New subtitles and Hard-of-Hearing Closed Captions

Ultimately, in a strange way to put it, Stagefright is a bizarrely wonderful film. Completely bizarre, bonker and overacted. The WILD and chaotic nature of the story entails a great detail of ridiculous rampages from the Night Owl killer, mostly featuring an array of impressive/ludicrous practical effects. Though not quite at the peak of slasher films or Italian horror, its highest and greatest merit is of its super stylish nature, which makes for a memorable film.

Stagefright is out now on Blu-ray and digital. Many thanks to both Witchfinder and Shameless Films for the pleasure of this film.

3 Stars

Dom.

For John.


This article’s featured image: By Source, Chain Production, Fair Use

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