The Film (4/5)
Michele Soavi could be considered the test tube baby of the 80's Italian horror scene. He was basically groomed to make excellent Italian horror cinema. He started his career working as an A.D. and acting in the films of Lamberto Bava, Lucio Fulci, Joe D'Amato (Aristide Massaccesi), and Dario Argento. The latter two essentially kick started the young Soavi's career, Argento backing the young director's second film The Church (in production as Demons 3), and D'Amato who would instigate, and produce his first film the giallo Stagefright.
The plot is quite simple a group of actors are for some reason locked into a theater for an all night rehearsal by their director. The key is lost, and a psychopathic killer in a bird mask is on the loose butchering the cast and crew in increasingly violent ways. The survivors must find a way to escape or stop the killer, before he can take them all out.
The plot of Stage Fright is quite straightforward, and the film likely do it's low budget takes place primarily in one location with the occasionally peek outside to a pair of bumbling cops who happen to be on duty 5 feet away from the murders. That being said the use of the solitary location offers a tight, slightly claustrophobic atmosphere, and also gives a vibe akin to something along the line of the movie theater setting of Lamberto Bava's Demons (which Soavi appeared in).
If you did not know at the outset that this was Soavi's debut feature, you would probably be surprised to discover that fact later on, as he appears to make his screen debut with a fully developed visual style. It is no surprise that between this film, and The Church he would go on to do Second Unit Direction for Terry Gilliam's visual masterpiece the Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He offers a sleek very mobile visual style with an excellent use of color that draws the occasional comparison to his mentor Dario Argento.
Admittedly, the film starts out a bit slow in the violence department, but around the 45 minute point, the film picks up it's pace, and becomes one of the most violent action packed gialli of the late 80's period. The ending which I will not spoil does have a bit of an Opera vibe in that it concludes in quite a satisfactory manner, and then comes back with a slightly disjointed moment at the end. Aside from the few negatives mentioned Stage Fright is an excellent thriller from a director whose genre work is sorely missed, and while he left behind his film work for many years for good reasons, I know many horror fans would welcome another addition to his horror filmography should be choose to make one.
Blue Underground presents Michele Soavi's Stagefright in an excellent 1080p AVC encoded 1:85:1 transfer. The film simply put looks magnificent. The presentation has very solid, deep blacks, excellent colors, and a healthy level of grain present. There is excellent fine detail throughout.
BU presents the film with 2 English audio options a DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 track. Both tracks are quite suitable with dialogue coming through clearly as well as the films score and effects. I did not detect any issues with the audio on my play through.
Blue Underground have loaded up their release of Stagefright with loads of on-camera interviews with the director Michele Soavi, stars of the film, the make-up effects artist, and Simon Boswell the film's composer. We also get a poster gallery, and the trailer in HD.
Stage Fright is both an excellent giallo, and a stellar debut from director Michele Soavi. The A/V restoration from Blue Underground looks and sounds fantastic, and the extra features really push this one over the edge. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.