Stage Fright (1987)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Slasher Film  |   Release Date - Feb 8, 1987 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - Italy, United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This late European entry into the slasher-film cycle is a good example of how style can triumph over substance in a genre effort. The script doesn't offer much in the way of characterization -- the victims fall into distinct types and the killer is the usual slasher-film cipher -- but Stage Fright does offer a unique theatrical setting and small-time showbiz milieu that gives the tale some added flavor. The actors are do above-average work for this kind of film, with top honors going to David Brandon as the troupe's Machiavellian director and John Morghen as an amusingly bitchy actor. However, the best element of Stage Fright is Michele Soavi's direction. This protégé of Dario Argento made his directorial debut here and his work shows a tremendous sense of craft for a first-timer: his pacing is nice and lean, with a good knack for timing when it comes to the shocks. Even better, he has an eye for artful design amongst the carnage and combines this visual sense with his craftsmanship to create some tense setpieces: the best is a moment involving an attempt to retrieve a key right under the killer's nose. Ultimately, Stage Fright is primarily for the horror audience but they are likely to enjoy its visually inventive approach to the usually humdrum slasher subgenre.