StageFright (1987)

I think I got this mainly because it was cheap ($12 for the Blue Underground edition), but also I knew director Michele Soavi had a pretty solid reputation, and I’d liked Dellamorte Dellamore a lot when I first saw it years ago. As such I had a feeling it would prove to be $12 well spent, and so it was. Plotwise, it really doesn’t do anything new, it’s a fairly straight down the line slasher, all the way down to the final girl, but it offers some pretty good kills plus an elegant sufficiency of style and honest to god/dess tension. Setting: a sound stage where a musical is being rehearsed (this offers a quite startling opening to the film), and to which a former actor turned psycho killer flees after escaping confinement. After his first victim is found, the director of the play orders the theatre into lockdown, locking in all of his cast—but also the killer as well. Complications ensue, especially when the only person who knows where the key is gets it… oh dear. There’s some degree of Idiot Plot at work here that’s unusual even for this sort of film, but it does admittedly generate quite some tension, particularly when it comes to the final girl business which occupies more or less the last half hour of the film (the other killings mostly happening in the preceding half hour); the film is entertaining until then, but once into the last act Soavi really ramps the suspense up, particularly when it comes to discovering the key’s been kind of hidden in plain sight all along, and this latter part of the film is kind of tremendous. It might’ve been something of a for-hire job for Soavi, but he seems to have approached it without any cynicism about using it just to get a step up in the Italian industry, and if it’s hardly original material it’s still pretty well made, probably better than said material merited.

Written for the 3rd Annual Italian Horror Blogathon at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies

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