Stage Fright (1987 film)
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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michele Soavi (as Michael Soavi)|
|Produced by||Joe D'Amato (as Aristide Massaccesi)
|Written by||George Eastman (as Lew Cooper)
|Music by||Simon Boswell
Guido Anelli Stefano Mainetti
|Edited by||Kathleen Stratton|
Stage Fright (original title Deliria) is a 1987 horror film directed by Michele Soavi. The film stars Barbara Cupisti, David Brandon and Giovanni Lombardo Radice. Written by George Eastman (writing as Lew Cooper), the story combines elements of the giallo and slasher film genres. The film follows a troupe of stage actors who are rehearsing for an small-townmusical production. After locking themselves in the theater to focus on rehearsing, they continue the rehearsing, not knowing that an psychopathic actor who sneaked out of an asylum is locked in the theater with them and starts a murderous spree.
Joe D'Amato served as the film's producer. It was Soavi's first feature film as director; he had previously worked as an assistant director for Joe D'Amato, Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava and had previously directed the music video "The Valley" for Argento's Phenomena as well as the documentary Dario Argento's World of Horror.
The film takes place in a theater late at night as a troupe of actors are rehearsing a musical about a mass murderer known as the Night Owl. When the show's leading lady, Alicia (Cupisti), sprains her ankle, she and the wardrobe mistress, Betty (Schwerk), sneaks out of the rehearsal to go to a doctor, in which the closest medical facility is a mental hospital. The psychiatrist on duty is happy to help, but the wardrobe mistress notices a restrained patient on a bed lying in a room behind bars. The doctor tells them that it is Irving Wallace (Clain Parker), a former actor who went insane and murdered dozen of people. Unbeknownst to any of them, Wallace killed one of the attendants with a syringe and sneaked out of the asylum, hiding in the back of Betty's car.
Once they arrive back at the theater the over-bearing director (Brandon) fires Alicia for leaving during rehearsal. As she packs her things and gets ready to leave, Betty returns to the car. Sensing something amiss, she looks around, only to have a pickaxe slammed into her mouth. Alicia emerges from the theater a few moments later and makes the horrifying discovery of her friend's corpse.
The police remove the body and station two patrol officers in the parking lot to keep an eye on the premises. Meanwhile, the director has hit upon an idea to turn this apparent tragedy to his advantage, by altering the play's script; instead of an anonymous killer, he renames the show's antagonist Irving Wallace, and insists that everyone stay the night to begin immediate rehearsals with the new material. He has one of his actresses, Corinne (Lori Parrel), hide the theater's key so nobody can leave. With the promise of additional cash incentives, the majority of the group reluctantly agree. The real Wallace, now wearing the owl costume, brutally disembowels Corinne in front of the horrified cast and crew. With Corrine knowing where the key was hidden, the remaining group realize that they are now trapped in the theater, with Wallace still in the theater.
The remainder of the group decide to stick together and search for the key. Sybil (Jo Anne Smith) starts to feel sick and feels like she does not want to continue, but David asks her to stay. Laurel makes her way to the dressing room, but while dressing up she feels somebody is in the room. She goes inside the fitting room and locks the door, but when someone tries to open it, she screams and the others come to her immediately, whom remain to question on who it was. Peter accuses Brett as the culprit, but he refuses to accept. While he practices alone in the dressing room, a man in the owl costume appears at his back. Alicia keeps searching the key, while Corinne was practicing, her role, Peter calls Brett, who was now in the owl costume, strangles Corinne as a part of the scene, and later stabs her with a paring knife. Alicia refuses to continue on for the scene as man in the owl costume stabs Corinne repeatedly, everyone goes on the stage to find out if its real or not, but find out that Corinne was stabbed for real and everyone came on panic. They come into the main door and yell so that the police can hear them. Wallace cut the power source and the telephone lines so nobody can escape. The group them find a way out, but Ferrari was separated. As he walks on the stage, Wallace sees Ferrari, who begs him not to kill him and pleased to give him the money, but Wallace refuses and stabs him with the paring knife. Peter, Danny and Mark search for Ferrari, but finds him hanging upside down.
The group barricade themselves inside a room. Peter and Danny leave Alicia, Mark, Sybil and Laurel in the room and searches for the killer. Laurel notices that someone is opening the door, and calls Mark. Mark barricades the door, with the help of Alicia and Laurel while Sybil continues to panic. Wallace breaks the door's window and grabs Mark. Suddenly, Wallace shoves a power drill through the door, and piercing through his chest. Peter and Danny hears the screams, and follows them. They plan that everyone must have a defense for themselves and stick together. Peter notices someone walking at the attic, in which he puts the light up, and finds the killer. He asks Danny to block his way while he follows the killer, while Alice and Laurel climb up as well and they follow Peter. While climbing, Alicia panics and holds Laurel's feet, but Laurel accidentally pushes Alicia down, making her unconscious.
They make their way to the attic. Peter finds the owl costume man and hacks it with a felling axe. Instead, they accidentally killed Brett instead, not noticing him being tied up. Sybil, who is standing, is pulled down by Wallace. When they try to pull her up, her lower torso was cut. Danny immediately goes down and follows Wallace, but is killed with a chainsaw by Wallace. Peter and Laurel make their way to escape via breaking the door, but Wallace appears on their back, causing Peter to accidentally push Laurel into Wallace's chainsaw and wounds her chest. Wallace attacks Peter and cuts his left arm, but after Wallace's chainsaw runs out of gas, he decapitates Peter with his own axe. Alicia wakes up and finds herself alone. She searches for everybody but only finds Laurel, severely wounded from Wallace's chainsaw. Alicia hides in the nearby shower room as she hears somebody walking towards them. She watches in horror as Wallace stabs Laurel with a chef's knife.
Alicia makes her way to find an escape. She searches for the key and arms herself with a pistol from an officer. She tries to unlock the door, only to see a Wallace, sitting with all of the corpses of the crew placed around the stage. While watching, she finds the key lying on the stage behind Wallace, as she makes her way underneath the stage and tries to grab the key which is stuck between the stage floor, but when she loosens the key, it falls on the ground, causing Wallace's attention. She immediately runs out of underneath the stage, when Wallace strangles her. After her pistol does not fire, she stabs a screwdriver in Wallace's eyes and runs to the door. After having not enough time to open it, Alicia misses Wallace's attack and she climbs up the attic catwalks. She reaches a dead end as Wallace corners her. After she sprays a nearby fire extinguisher into Wallace, he grabs a cord from falling to his demise and begins to climb up. Alicia servers the cord he was climbing up and Wallace falls to the ground, which Alicia makes her way to the door. Wallace, apparently surviving his fall, grabs her feet, but dumps a burning bin to Wallace, causing him to burn to his demise. Believing that Wallace is dead, she escapes the theater by unlocking the door and heads towards the police officer. While she is being interviewed by reporters, she sees her friends, murdered from Wallace as they are delivered outside.
The next morning, Alicia returns and finds her missing watch, which was lost during the fight with Wallace. Oddly, she finds that eight bodies where recovered, instead of nine. Wallace, now with a damaged and burned face, appears and prepares to kill her with his axe, but Willy kills Wallace, via head-shot. As the credits roll, Alicia makes her way out, unknown to her that Wallace has, in-fact, survived from his head-shot.
- Barbara Cupisti as Alicia
- David Brandon as Peter
- Mary Sellers as Laurel
- Robert Gligorov as Danny
- Jo Ann Smith as Sybil
- Giovanni Lombardo Radice as Brett
- Martin Philips as Mark
- Piero Vida as Ferrari
- Loredana Parrella as Corinne
- Ulrike Schwerk as Betty
- Domenico Fiore as Police Chief
- Mickey Knox as Old Cop
- Clain Parker as Irving Wallace
- James Sampson as Willy (as James E. R. Sampson)
- Richard Barkeley as Dr. Porter
- Danny Gordon as Dancer
- Claude Jurman as Dancer
- Mark Parkinson as Dancer
- Helen Porter as Dancer
- Dominique Portier as Dancer
- Rackel Roskoff as Dancer
- Frank Senica as Dancer
- Simone Sadon as Dancer (as Simone Sardon)
- Albert Schultz as Dancer
- Sandi Schultz as Dancer (as Sandy Schultz)
- Luigi Montefiori as Irving Wallace (in masked scenes only) (uncredited)
The film received generally positive critics. AlloCiné's spectators gave at the film 3,8/5 positives critics on 87 reviews. AllMovie called the film "a good example of how style can triumph over substance in a genre effort", praising Michele Soavi's direction.