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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody Bird
The film opens with a troupe of actors rehearsing in the theatre late at night, it's a musical about a mass murderer known as The Night Owl. During rehearsal, one of the performers named Alicia sprains her ankle. Without telling the overbearing director, she and the wardrobe mistress, Betty, sneak out to go and see a doctor. The only place near by where a doctor would be...
Published 20 months ago by West25

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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Barn owls can be scary too
Bought on the promise of a 'killer disguised as an owl' (please see picture of menacing-looking barn owl on rear of dvd cover) Stagefright delivers fewer moments of comedy than you might expect (actually none) but instead a more straightforward and fairly effective horror in the stalker/slasher-in-a-confined-space theme.
Published on 9 Aug 2007 by Hawkeye


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody Bird, 14 Nov 2012
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The film opens with a troupe of actors rehearsing in the theatre late at night, it's a musical about a mass murderer known as The Night Owl. During rehearsal, one of the performers named Alicia sprains her ankle. Without telling the overbearing director, she and the wardrobe mistress, Betty, sneak out to go and see a doctor. The only place near by where a doctor would be is the mental hospital, so they decide to take a chance and go there. The doctor on duty decides to make an exception and agrees to help. Whilst there, Alicia asks about one of the patients and is told that it's the notorious mass murderer, Irving Wallace, an actor that went beserk and chopped sixteen people up into little pieces. Whilst Alicia was getting her ankle treated by the doctor, Wallace kills an orderly and puts him in his bed. The two girls leave and head back to the theatre, completely unaware that they're giving a lift to an extremely psychotic hitch-hiker. Once they arrive back, Alicia heads back in hoping the director hadn't realised she'd gone, leaving Betty to park the car. Alicia is then told by the smarmy director to go home, but to clean out her locker before she leaves. She packs her things and heads out to the car where she makes a gruesome discovery, Betty has taken a pickaxe through the face. She runs back inside and the police are informed, they seem certain the killer has left the area but a police car will be parked outside all night. The director being the kind-hearted man he is, decides to change the name of the killer in the script to Irving Wallace and asks everyone to stay behind and continue rehearsals, he also asks one of the actresses called Corinne to lock the door and hide the key. Once rehearsals start again, Brett who was meant to be wearing the giant owl head to play the killer, has been replaced by the real killer. He kills Corinne on stage infront of everyone as he was meant to, but only Alicia realises it's for real. With Corinne dead, no one can get out of the theatre. Their only option is to stick together and hope to survive, or to beat the killer at his own game.

Barbara Cupisti is pretty good as Alicia, she's a veteran of this type of film having appeared in Lucio Fulci's New York Ripper, Dario Argento's Terror at the Opera and a couple more of Michele Soavi's films. I really liked the way she played Alicia with inner strength, but also with vulnerability. David Brandon also plays his character of Peter the director quite well, he makes his character very unlikeable but manages to bring you around a little as the film progresses, despite being a little over the top in certain scenes. Every Italian horror fan will know exactly who Giovanni Lombardo Radice is, he's appeared in a lot of the best known Italian horror films and has even made a few appearances in US films in recent years. His most memorble roles were probably in his first four films, Cannibal Apocalypse, City of the Living Dead, The House on the Edge of the Park and Cannibal Ferox, all good films and well worth watching. I think the whole cast do a good job, director Michele Soavi even gives himself a small role as one of the cops who are parked outside the theatre.

Michele Soavi made his debut as a director with Stagefright, after working as an assistant director for five years for Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava and Joe D'Amato. I highly doubt that any of those could have directed the film any better than Soavi did, it's quite simply a brilliant debut. I feel quite sad that he only became a director right around the time Italian cinema was coming to an end, many of the best Italian directors from the previous twenty years or so had already retired or moved on to TV movies and TV shows by the late '80s, you could argue that Dario Argento's last really good film was Terror At The Opera from '87. Soavi went on to make the The Church in 1989, the strange but interesting The Sect in 1991 and the brilliant Dellamorte Dellamore aka Cemetery Man in 1994. I think it's fair to say that Soavi was probably the most successful director of horror films in Italy between 1987-1994, if only he had started directing ten years earlier I see no reason why he wouldn't be spoken about the way Argento and Fulci are. After the success of Dellamorte Dellamore he took five years off, he then returned to the wasteland that was Italian cinema and moved into low budget TV movies like most of the best directors, having his talent wasted. The music is outstanding and really helps the film to develop its claustrophobic atmosphere, and the killer wearing the giant owl head is creepy and inspired. There's also some really bloody moments in the film, but it's much more about atmosphere than blood and guts. It's also worth mentioning that it was produced by Joe D'Amato who directed many a smutty film but also some great films like Anthropophagus, Horrible and Beyond The Darkness. The script was written by George Eastman who was a fine actor who gave it up to become a full time writer, surely one of the most talented men in Italian movies. What was achieved for $1,000,000 was amazing.

The DVD is classic Blue Underground, it's another great film that's been beautifully transferred to DVD but lacks any sort of decent extras. The only extras are barely worth writing down, a trailer and a Michele Soavi biography. There's also no option to watch the film in Italian, which isn't a problem as most of the actors seem to be speaking English anyway, there's also no subtitles. Stagefright has more humour in the film than you would think, though that's mostly in the first half of the film. There's a particularly funny part right at the end involving a character called Willy, where he really enjoys repeating himself. I've also heard people call Stagefright a giallo, but to me it's not one. Giallo to me makes me think that the film is going to have some sort of mystery that's going to be solved by a character throughout the film, leading us on their journey to find the truth. There's nothing like that in Stagefright, so I think it should simply be called a horror. Stagefright won't be for everyone, but if you love European horror, you should love Stagefright.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It'll Be Owl Right On The Night, 27 Oct 2011
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Mr. Jonathon T. Beckett "vampire lover" (Dracula's Crypt) - See all my reviews
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After injuring her ankle, Alicia(Barbera Cupisti) takes a break from the stage production she is starring in to visit a hospital for treatment. However the hospital her friend Betty drives her to is for the criminally insane, and when the two women return to the isolated location of the theatre, unknown to them they have a passenger, escaped serial killer Irving Wallace.
Betty is murdered in the car park, and the police post a guard outside the theatre. Meanwhile, sensing profit from Betty's death, director Peter(David Brandon) keeps his principal cast and crew behind to discuss a new angle for the production. However, there's someone else wanting to get a starring role. Wallace has been locked inside the thetre with the others and decides to start his own full blooded production.
I am a big fan of director Michele Soavi's work. Compared to his later films such as La Chiesa, La Setta and Dellamore Dellamorte, Stagefright might on the surface seem like a very minor film. It is, however, one of the best slashers ever, a masterclass in sustained tension, wringing every drop of suspense out of what is quite a slim narrative.
Even though I've now seen this three times, there are still a couple of scenes that make me jump. As Wallace stalks the boards, the theatre makes for a very eerie location, especially with the tailors dummies scattered about, the silent audience to the carnage. The acting is all right, with John Morghen/Giovanni Radice impressing as Brett, and Cupisti excellent as the resourceful heroine. The music score is great.
The only thing that grates with me a little are the last few seconds of the film, when Soavi winks at the audience through the eyes of his killer. Still, that's a very minor grumble, as Stagefright is a superb horror film, and maybe the Blue Underground all regions dvd release might encourage people to buy this neglected classic. 5 out of 5.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars region 0 actually...but what a mad film!, 22 Sep 2011
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S Walker "satire74" (Scotland,UK) - See all my reviews
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Regarded as a slasher flick but there is not that much slashing,more thudding pick axe!This film is frankly nuts but highly entertaining,and delivers violence wise,some great,inventively gruesome set piece killings,one of which is so surprising I'm tempted to turn spoiler but won't.Directed by Argento's most prodigious pupil,Michele Soavi I was inclined to give it 4 stars for lack of extras,it's a bear bones release,one of Blue Undergrounds earlier releases only offering a trailer&Soavi bio,and that' yer lot but what you do get is an uncut,region 0(usually listed as reg 1 but double check with seller)fantastically enjoyable slice of mayhem!.The murderer uses a Giant Owl mask/costume,I'm not sure of this but it must be the biggest head disguise in horror cinema,knocking off people who look like failed auditions for 80s triple cheese show"Fame",best of which is John Morgen who really is as camp as a row of pink tents,this is the hard man from Cannibal Ferox&equally,well more,demented guy in Cannibal Apocalypse,prancing and dancing in spandex,classic!The violence thus feels unexpectedly high,stylish but with a knowing sense of it's place,it's purpose is to entertain fans of crazy horror flicks and it's mission accomplished,never a dull moment,nothing complex,It's not"Dellamorte Dellamore"(aka Cemetery Man)or"The Church"(La Chiesa),great films by same director,Stagefright is very different with tongue firmly in cheek compared to the better known,far deeper and darker Soavi films I mentioned,just leave your brain at the door and be entertained!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fine addition to the giallo subgenre., 19 Jun 2014
Stage Fright is the brilliant debut slasher/giallo film from Michael Soavi, it was also produced by joe d'amato's filmirage. A group of actors rehearsing a play about a nameless killer find a new name attatched to the character- Irving Wallace when Wallace escapes from the local mental hospital and kills a wardrobe mistress. The director locks everybody in the theatre overnight to rehearse the play so it can be brought forward to cash in on the murder publicity. But Irving Wallace gets locked in too and he wants to continue his killing spree. The key was hidden by his first victim. Despite the apparently cliche ridden plot this film really manages to shine. It has a bit of everything - strong gore, nice 80's music, great style and some real moments of tension and suspense. The Killer also wears this large owl mask which gives him this really ominous and creepy presence. You can tell that director Micheal Soavi learned alot from Dario Argento since he worked closely with him alot during his career, he was kind of like a protege. The setting is one of the better features of the film. The building is incredible, with several great stalking areas, long hallways, a huge stage for the production and so much more going on that there's a really great feel coming from the location. This one offers up many great moments from the location that really work well. This also has a great air about it, one that feels perfectly comfortable being such a film. It doesn't stay away from any of those typical clichés. This one gets sown and dirty with being a traditional slasher film. There's a whole lot to enjoy from this one due to how much it plays by the slasher rules. That means that it puts in appearances for almost everything the genre has to offer, and it makes the film seem that much more important because of it. This one also becomes more entertaining when it moves into the slasher territory, since this has plenty of goodness from its slasher moments. The stalking is among the best in the genre, as every single one is tense, exciting and wholly interesting, which is exactly what a stalking sequence should be. The chase up into the rafters is beyond glorious, as there's a long battle to get there, followed by several extended stalking scenes and there's even a couple of particularly brutal kills as well. This one gets more points for several scenes it doesn't seem obvious as to what's going to happen, and that is a fantastic skill to having in a film, much less several times within the same sequence. A later scene where the killer attacks a group of victims who have locked themselves inside a small room is another standout scene. The last really big plus is it's blood and gore. The kills here are out-and-out graphic, where one is pulled into view from below sawed in half at the waist with a chainsaw, repeatedly hacked with an ax, decapitated with an ax, drilled through the stomach with an electric drill, set on fire and stabbed in the stomach, among so much more. These here all make it that much more important. This is one of the best of the genre. Highly recommended to all Italian or giallo fans, as well as those into the late 80s slasher scene.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 80s horror, 6 Jun 2011
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I am not going to write a full synopsis for this film, many of those are available elsewhere on the internet.

Suffice to say that this is an excellent 80s horror film; visually this is very stylish with surreal flourishes and many scenes that stick in your mind. Theres also some 'of it's time' fashion that was bang up to date in the 80s but is now more entertaining than anything else.

This was in fact directed by Michele Soavi, who went on to direct the superb delamorte delamore. If you have seen that film you will have a good idea of the excellence of his direction.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars many reviewers missing the point., 12 Jan 2008
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This review is from: StageFright [1986] [DVD] (DVD)
Firstly, this film is bloody but not all that gory, it's certainly not as over the top as some of the slasher movies out at around the same time, instead this movie tries to offer an intense and suspensful atmosphere delivered with plenty of style. Personally I prefer this to recycled formula movies like the friday 13th sequels. If your looking for a gory slasher movie get joe zito's the prowler which does its job far better than any of the friday 13th/nightmare on elm street movies. If your big into italian giallos (crime thrillers some of which ended up inspiring the slasher movie) then this is well worth a look.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HALL -OWL- WEEN, 6 Dec 2002
By 
Daniel S. "Daniel" (Geneva, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: StageFright [1986] [DVD] (DVD)
The first fiction movie of Michele Soavi is a very good surprise for the amateur of horror flicks. I mean of good horror flicks because, believe me or not, those movies exist but you must have a strong stomach and a lot of patience to discover them amidst the vast choice available. STAGE FRIGHT belongs to the peculiar sub-genre of the psycho-thriller, a genre directly inspired by Agatha Christie's AND THEN THEY WERE NONE. Take a dozen innocent victims and a madman with a mask and that's it.
From these premises on, directors reveal their peculiar skills or interests : some are, to speak frankly, would-be surgeons and like to fill the screen with gallons of blood during 90 minutes, some are more interested in the possibility to discover new ways of killing and the others seem to have accepted the job only in order to pay their taxes. Those directors are of no interest to me so I just skip them.
But Michele Soavi's STAGE FRIGHT reveals an authentic filmmaker. Locked in a theater, nine actors and a director must defend themselves against a madman who's just escaped from the local asylum. Like Jason or HALLOWEEN's Michael Myers, this madman wears a mask, the mask of an owl. And that's really innovative and scary. But completely stupid as the audience knows from the beginning of the movie on that the killer is Irving Wallace (not a spoiler), a serial killer.
So, from the moment one understands that the director's purpose is not to revolutionize the genre but rather to pay an homage to his colleagues and to the best scenes presented so far - in 1987 - , the movie stops being only a scary flick and becomes a wonderful journey through the annals of the cinema of horror. I've particularly liked the homage to THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, a scene filled with a visual poesy one rarely finds in such movies.
Of course, Soavi didn't have an enormous budget to spend, certain characters don't have much to say and the actors are a little amateurish at times but who cares after all, STAGE FRIGHT delivering a subtle pleasure that blockbusters unfortunately can't give anymore nowadays.
A DVD zone screaming room.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coool slasher, 22 Mar 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: StageFright [1986] [DVD] (DVD)
The fim offers a gret atmosphere and gory ways to die. It is very well made and has a cool maniac that doesn't only uses a chainsaw, knives....but invents really cruel ways of dying. The acting isn't bad, too. Not a bit cheesy. Buy it.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TERRIFIC ITALIAN HORROR!, 5 Aug 2010
STAGEFRIGHT IS A LITTLE GEM OF A HORROR MOVIE. IT'S ABOUT A GROUP OF DANCERS AND ACTORS THAT ARE REHERSING FOR A PLAY IN AN OLD WAREHOUSE. ONE OF THE DANCERS,ALICIA SPRAINS HER ANKLE,SO SHE AND THE WARDROBE MISTRESS BETTY GO TO A NEARBY HOSPITAL TO GET HER ANKLE CHECKED. BUT THE NEAREST HOSPITAL HAPPENS TO BE A MENTAL HOSPITAL.ALICIA HAS HER ANKLE BANDAGED UP AND HER AND BETTY LEAVE THE HOSPITAL,UNAWARE THAT A COLD BLOODED KILLER NAMED IRVING WALLACE HAS JUST ESCAPED THE SAME HOSPITAL AND IS HIDING IN THE BOOT OF BETTY'S CAR.THE TWO GIRLS DRIVE BACK TO THE WAREHOUSE AND ALICIA GOES BACK INSIDE LEAVING BETTY TO BE KILLED BY THE SINISTER KILLER WALLACE. ALICIA GOES BACK OUTSIDE TO SEE WHERE BETTY IS AND DISCOVERS HER MUTILATED CORPSE. SHE RUNS BACK IN THE WAREHOUSE AND ALERTS THE OTHERS TO THE MURDER. THE POLICE ARE CALLED AND THE BODY IS TAKEN AWAY AND EVERONE IS INFORMED THAT WALLACE HAS ESCAPED AND IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MURDER.THE POLICE SEARCH THE WAREHOUSE AND IT'S GROUNDS,BUT THEY FIND NOTHING AND LEAVE,JUST LEAVING A PATROL CAR OUTSIDE. WHAT FOLLOWS NEXT IS SOME OF THE MOST GRAPHIC AND GRUESOME MURDERS OF THE 80'S AS WALLACE AND THE ACTORS AND DANCERS ARE LOCKED INSIDE THE WAREHOUSE WITH ONLY WALLACE HAVING A KEY,THERE IS NO ESCAPE AND ONE BY ONE THEY FALL VICTIM TO THR DEMENTED KILLER. UNTIL THERE IS ONLY ALICIA LEFT ALIVE AND SHE HAS TO TRY AND OUTWIT THE MADMAN AND FIGHT FOR HER LIFE. WILL SHE LIVE OR WILL SHE BE IRVING WALLACE'S FINAL VICTIM. THIS FILM IS ONE OF THE BEST ITALIAN HORROR FILMS OF THE 80'S AND THE SPECIAL EFFECTS ARE AWESOME. CHECK THIS ONE OUT,AS IT IS REALLY TOP NOTCH.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Barn owls can be scary too, 9 Aug 2007
This review is from: StageFright [1986] [DVD] (DVD)
Bought on the promise of a 'killer disguised as an owl' (please see picture of menacing-looking barn owl on rear of dvd cover) Stagefright delivers fewer moments of comedy than you might expect (actually none) but instead a more straightforward and fairly effective horror in the stalker/slasher-in-a-confined-space theme.
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