The October Diaries: Stage Fright

Illustration by Max Brown
Blurbs by Sean & Christof

October 6th, 2015:
Stage Fright: Aquarius

Year: 1987
Director: Michele Soavi
Format: Blu-ray
From IMDB: A group of stage actors lock themselves in the theater for a rehearsal of their upcoming musical production, unaware that an escaped psychopath has sneaked into the theater with them.
Taglines: The theatre of death.


Christof’s Take:

What I Liked:

Everything. This movie strutted from the first shot to the last. Very precise cinematography with rich color and texture.

It may also feature the most satisfying killer mask ever: a giant, gorgeous owl mask. The mask is a stage costume for a play about a murderer in an owl mask. But rehearsal starts to get real… when a well-known actor who has gone insane escapes from a hospital. (Not a mental hospital, mind you. Just a hospital.) While rehearsing, they do not yet know who is inside the mask, but they rightfully get suspicious when he ends a scene by stabbing another actor to death. After the killer exits, everyone runs up on stage to the corpse, and I swear, the clatter of their collective feet sounds like applause.

One of my favorite aspects of this film is whenever the killer switches on the reel-to-reel and plays the production’s soundtrack as he stalks around the theatre — turning the play’s non-diegetic soundtrack into the movie’s diegetic soundtrack.

Also, best on-screen cops ever! I can’t explain it. Just watch this movie and fall in love with them.

Lastly, it’s important to note that this probably holds the crown for best kills of the month so far.

What I Didn’t Like:

There were parts where I wasn’t paying close attention because I was writing down ideas the film inspired. I suppose there’s a chance I wouldn’t have liked these scenes if I wasn’t looking at a sheet of paper.

Final Thoughts:

We have seen a lot of showbiz horror this month, but this one takes the cake. Magic is probably the better movie (or at least the classiest), but Stage Fright is the favorite, both mine and as agreed upon by the living room committee.

I’m not nearly as familiar with italian horror as I should be, but this was definitely my favorite among the ones I’ve seenn. Most lasagna-horror that I’ve had the pleasure of watching has a stronger emphasis on the supernatural, favors mood over plot, and usually features gratuitous gore and a surplus of illogical images, such as insects crawling out of bloody eyes and mouths and nostrils — stuff like that. All great stuff if that’s what pumps your tires, but I was pleased to see what some Italian sensibilities did with the serial-killer/massacre sub-genre.

Absolutely one of my favorite horror movies, of this month or any. 


Sean’s Take:

What I liked:

I paid Curtains a high-compliment by saying I wanted a copy  of it on VHS. I paid Stage Fright an even higher compliment by buying a copy of it off ebay in the immediate wake of our viewing. This is why we do it, as they say. We wade into some pretty dark waters in an effort to find a pearl as shiny as this one.

It’s consistency was amazing. A lot of horror movies feel like short distance runners in that they start out fast and furious and then they grow tired and barely cross the finish line by the end credits. Stage Fright was a long distance runner. It was built to last the duration.

The characters were drama people and their flamboyant reactions to the terror feels rooted in behaviors commonly found in theatre scenes. Everyone seemed like they wanted to steal every scene, that’s a good thing.

The characters also seem to believe that the best defense is a good offense, as they often assume the roles of aggressor by trying to chase down the killer. They were even smart enough to arm themselves with whatever they could find — too often lead characters don’t think to grab a blunt object to fling at their assailant, then we lose a bit of respect for the characters for not paying credence to even our basic survival instincts.

One of the highlights, and one of the films most delirious moments, was Willy’s final scene. Willy is the caretaker of the stage where the whole movie takes place. He becomes something of a lynchpin character by the end and his final scene is what horror dreams are made of.

I could go on, but I won’t. It’d be embarrassing as I wanna gush too hard. I’m smitten.

What I didn’t like:

Any minor nitpick I might have had (and I don’t recall any of note) were negated by inspired lunacy of the rest.

 Final thoughts:

My copy of this one on VHS has an estimated delivery date of Wednesday, October 14th. I’ll let you know when it has shipped.



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