Feb 3, 2009

Stage Fright

Michele Soavi is without a doubt the most promising director of Italian slasher films, or giallo, out there. His recycling of common themes while replacing parts not with synthetic, but organic instances of artistry is overwhelming. His most successful film and with good reason is Cemetery Man, also known as Dellamorte Dellamore. His first brainchild was known as Deliria in Italy but throughout the globe is known as Bloody Bird, Aquarius, and most notably in part to DVD labels and posters, Stage Fright. Stage Fright may come with its flaws but besides from the shoestring ending, proves to be a hard-hearted entry of slasher films, while not compromising its quality for innovative deaths, which has many.

After working carefully on many of the Demoni saga, I'd like to presume that Soavi enjoyed the "horror amongst a cinematic medium" theme pretty well so he wrote a script for a film adapting the same concept but with a Phantom of the Opera twist bringing the terror into one of the archaic forms of performance art. A struggling group of theater actors work together to bring a piece called The Night Owl. After an incident in which one of the leading ladies of the play unknowingly harbors an escaped lunatic known for slaughtering a group of theatrical denizens back to their building, a night of nocturnal terror is unleashed with blame laid on the maniacal director who succumbs to the madness of creating art. After the killer steals an Owl mask from a flamboyantly gay Giovanni Lombardo Radice, the inhabitants of the stage are sent running for their life.

On terms of slashers and masks, Stage Fright keeps a unkempt underdog aspect with the shocking framing and displays of the killer. The Kikuyu of Kenya see the owl as the harbinger of death so the placement of this creature in a slasher flick is more than acceptable. Like their beliefs, when one sees the owl, someone will die. Athena herself would be proud of this film. The owl costume brings a similar aesthetic that the mask in Last House on Dead End Street brought about. While Stage Fright might be weighed down under the scornful of the average slasher fan that drools at the sight of Jason Voorhees' with another bag of preteen sluts, Stage Fright remains one of the most inquisitive, thoughtful slasher films of all time.

The greatest aspect of Stage Fright isn't the many ways he dispatches his victims. I could go into detail with this though, enunciating the idea of him using a power drill through a door to kill a male protecting the females in the safe room. I could argue with the misplaced idea that Stage Fright has the greatest chainsaw murdering context over ever The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which immortalized the weapon within horror. I could even point the beauty out of the stabbing of Corrine as she doesn't realize the "killer" isn't the lovably homosexual Brett but a raving lunatic. But no, all of this proves to be entertainment leading up to a true work of pseudo-chauvinism. The real highlight is the over-incredible soundtrack.

Borrowing a classical in-film score of music originally used in Sergei M. Eisenstein's Strike and using a soft theme consisting a cherubic hums, Stage Fright goes above and beyond the works and instances of Goblin thanks to Simon Boswell. Stage Fright marks the near debut of Michele Soavi and for a starting film, remains practically flawless despite the "hammy" ending. Pay special attention to the perfect scene of the madman's inspirational script rewrite using the actors (or what's left of them) in various poses with feathers strewn about. This signals the modern birth of giallo hybrids. Poetic and coarse, Soavi morphs murder into prose with Stage Fright.



Balberith said...

I really liked this movie, and ofcourse watching Giovanni prance around helped haha. Great review :)

beedubelhue said...

Soavi owns all.