Plot: A rehearsal for a play based on a real serial killer turns chaotic when the escaped felon comes for the curtain call.
Review: A rock-infused play about an owl-masked psycho slayer is being rehearsed just down the road from an insane asylum where a convicted serial killer named Irving Wallace (played by Clain Parker) has just been interred. Tempting fate just a little too much, the production of the play draws Wallace in, and he escapes his confinement, goes directly to the playhouse and dons on the owl mask and wouldn’t you know it: the director of the play locked everyone in to make sure they went through rehearsals all night to make sure everyone learned their parts in time for opening night.
One by one, Wallace slays the cast members (the first one is in front of the whole cast while everyone screamed, “Kill her! Murder her!” because that’s what the killer in the play was supposed to do), and it comes down to a “final girl” (played by Barbara Cupisti) to survive the night and get the better of the killer.
Filmed at the tail end of the giallo craze during Italy’s heyday of making exploitation films, Michele Soavi’s Stagefright is still one of the better efforts of that era, and it being Soavi’s first film, the movie is tight and stylish, with a jazzy rock score by Simon Boswell. It’s ultra gory and bloody with a stark ’80’s Eurovibe, and it looks pretty fantastic on blu ray, courtesy of Blue Underground. A marked improvement over the Anchor Bay DVD disc, it also has a plethora of supplemental features, with interviews by Soavi, Boswell, and other co-stars and the make-up effects designer. Fans of slashers and pulse-pounding thrillers should definitely check this release out.
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