Stage Fright (1987 film)
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|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
|Edited by||Kathleen Stratton|
|Distributed by||Artists Entertainment Group|
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 a small-town musical production. They lock themselves in a theater to focus on rehearsing, unaware that a psychopathic actor who sneaked out of an asylum is locked in the theater with them and planning 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.
Late at night inside a theater, 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 for medical assistance, in which the closest medical facility is a mental hospital. When speaking to the psychiatrist, Betty notices an imprisoned patient who is revealed to be Irving Wallace (Clain Parker), a former actor who went insane and committed a killing spree. 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 director Peter (Brandon) fires Betty for leaving during rehearsal. As she packs her things and gets ready to leave, Betty returns to the car only for Wallace to murder her with a pickaxe. Moments later, Alicia then emerges from the theater upon the discovery of her friend's corpse. Later, police officers arrive to remove the scene and stations two officers in the parking lot to keep an eye on the premises.
Meanwhile, the director creates an idea by altering the play's script; he renames the show's antagonist to Irving Wallace instead of an ambiguous killer, and insists that everyone stay the night to begin immediate rehearsals with the new material, resulting one of his actresses Corinne (Lori Parrel) hide the theater's key so nobody can leave. With the promise of additional cash, the group reluctantly agrees. Inside the dressing room, Laurel (Mary Sellers) feels someone's inside and locks the door; she then screams when someone tries opening it and calls the group to her assistance. Peter accuses Brett as the culprit, but he refuses to accept.
Unbeknownst to the group, Wallace himself has donned the theater's owl costume. While Alicia keeps searching for the key, Wallace arrives (with Peter thinking it's Brett) for the scene and strangles Corrine before stabbing her to death. Without the key's whereabouts, the group begins to panic and tries to contract the outside policemen, but to no avail since it's raining outside and the policemen are inside their car. Wallace then disconnects the power source and telephone lines in addition for no escape. The group finds an escape route, but Ferrari gets separated. On the stage, Wallace sees Ferrari, who begs and tries to offer Wallace the money, but Wallace refuses and stabs him, later hanging his body which the group discovers. Peter and Danny (Robert Gligorov) leave Alicia, Mark (Martin Philips), Sybil (Jo Ann Smith), and Laurel inside a room and searches for Wallace. Laurel notices Wallace outside trying to open the door and with the assistance of Mark, Alicia, and Laurel, barricades the door. Wallace then breaks the window and grabs Mark before killing him with a power drill through the door, gaining the attention of Peter and Danny. They plan that everyone must defend themselves and to stick together. Peter notices Wallace walking on the attic catwalks, causing him to head upstairs where Alice and Laurel follow as well. In the process, Alicia is accidentally knocked unconscious after Laurel pushes her down. Arriving at the attic, Peter arrives with an axe and instead accidentally hacks up Brett, tied up with the costume on. Suddenly, Sybil is pulled down by Wallace and, despite assistance from Danny and Peter, she is killed by disembowelment. Danny immediately goes down before getting killed by Wallace with a chainsaw. During the escape, Peter accidentally pushes Laurel into Wallace's chainsaw and wounds her. Wallace severs Peters arm before his chainsaw runs out of fuel. Taking the axe, Wallace then decapitates Peter.
Alicia wakes up and finds a wounded Laurel hiding in the shower room. She then hides as Wallace approaches near them, before Laurel is stabbed by Wallace. Finding an exit, she arms herself with a pistol and searches for the key, only to see Wallace sitting with the group's corpses placed around the stage. Underneath the stage, she successfully finds the key (catching Wallace's attention) before getting attacked by Wallace. With the pistol apparently having no ammunition, she stabs a screwdriver into Wallace's eye and runs to the door. Nearly missing his attacks, she heads up the attic catwalks where she reaches a dead end as Wallace corners her. After spraying a fire extinguisher at Wallace, he falls but saves himself on a dangling cord and begins to climbs up. Alicia servers the cord with his axe, causing Wallace to fall. She makes her way to the door, where Wallace attacks her before she dumps a burning bin to him, igniting him. She successfully escapes the theater via unlocking the door and has the police assist her. While being interviewed, she then sees her deceased friends being delivered outside.
The next morning, Alicia returns to the theater to look for her missing watch, which was lost during the fight with Wallace. After finding it, she learns that eight bodies instead of nine were recovered; a burnt Wallace appears and is about to attack her with his axe but is shot by Willy (James Sampson). As the credits roll, Alicia leaves the theater, unknown to her that Wallace has survived his gunshot and smiles to the camera.
- 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 reviews. 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.