STAGEFRIGHT (1987)

STAGEFRIGHT (1987) 11

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THE PLOT THUS FAR

A troupe of struggling stage actors is rehearsing for a small-town production of a play. Everything seems to be as it should until one of the cast members turns up dead. In a panic, the others try to get out, only to find they are now locked in the theater with the killer! Which one of them committed the murder, and who will get out alive?

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WHAT WE THOUGHT

“Stagefright” is a very basic horror movie. At times, it almost doesn’t even play as a Giallo. If anything Soavi is offering his take on the American slasher, as the film opens with a psychopath fleeing a local nuthouse and hiding out with a troupe of actors. Stealing an Owl’s head mask, the killer is encouraged to fake kill an actress as part of a play. But, as we know from observing Michael Myers. Sometimes, it’s hard to know when you’re stabbing a woman too hard. Now, all of the actors are trapped inside the theater with a killer.

That dude in the Owl Head Mask is such an effective image. It reminds me a lot of “Judex” and I had a hard time shaking that connection while watching this movie. If you haven’t seen “Judex”, I recommend picking up the Criterion Blu-Ray. Some people will whine that I haven’t brought up Soavi’s connection to Argento. Well, it doesn’t matter. Where Argento was a moody artist, Soavi was a brutal technician. The level of technical expertise in the camera work and editing kills most of Argento’s later work. Plus, he’s far more effective at using Argento’s 80s composer than Argento used him on “Phenomena”, I know that sounds like blasphemy. Unfortunately, I never stayed a fan of Soavi. While I can appreciate his early work, you see signs even in this film that he can’t keep up the tempo. What keeps “Stagefright” from turning to dreck is the fact that it lives and dies by that 90 minute time length.

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The Blu-Ray comes with new interviews, featurettes, trailers and a poster/still gallery as the special features. The A/V Quality is a revelation when compared to the old DVD. The transfer is far brighter and more detailed in 1080p. Plus, the DTS-HD 5.1 master audio track helps keep dialogue from getting stepped on. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.

RELEASE DATE: 09/23/2014

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