There have been some iconic masked villains in the horror world. Leatherface, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Dr Decker from Nightbreed, but ladies and gentlemen there are none more terrifying than Owl Head and I’m not referring to the Sheffield Wednesday Football Club mascot Ozzie the Owl! I’m jumping ahead so let’s back up a bit and explain myself.
Stage Fright released in 1987 and directed by Michele Soavi is about the cast and crew of a theatre production being terrorised by a deranged killer. During rehearsals Alicia (Barbara Cupisti) is injured and taken to a nearby hospital for attention. When I say hospital, I of course mean psychiatric hospital, because that is where she is taken for treatment by her colleague who believes that all hospitals are the same. Alicia should count her lucky stars because she could have ended up at the veterinarian hospital based on that logic and wound up being stuffed and mounted on the wall!
Whilst wandering the hospital Alicia sees a patient who is behind bars and restrained. As a doctor is treating Alicia she asks about the patient and discovers that his name is Irving Wallace and he was an actor who went berserk killing a number of people. Wallace was obviously taking the method acting approach a little bit too far!
Alicia and her colleague head back to the theatre pursued by the disturbed thespian for an evening of terror. You’re probably wondering what the hell I was on about earlier when I was talking about Owl Head? The reason I made such a big deal of this is because the killer wears one of the costumes which were being used in the rehearsals. The main part of the costume featuring the aforementioned giant owl head which resembles some kind of creepy sports mascot.
Whilst watching Stage Fright I thought that the killer actually had quite good taste because the play they were making looked bloody awful and murdering the cast members would save future audiences a fate worse than death! To be honest, I’m surprised that more actors don’t go crazy on film or theatre sets. Every time I hear that there is a new Michael Bay movie being released I want to rip someone’s lungs out!
Stage Fright offers a slightly different take on the slasher/stalker genre which I honestly think is well worth checking out. Stage Fright is very stylish and the director’s influences are apparent with him channelling some of the greats of Italian horror cinema such as Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. It has some excellent kills/set pieces, nice special effects, is well made and was thoroughly entertaining throughout. It’s a movie I would recommend watching with some friends and alcohol. How much alcohol depends on how seriously you can take a man carrying a chainsaw wearing a giant owl head.
The wonderful folk at Exposure Cinema have put a lot of care and attention into bringing Stage Fright to home cinema and the movie presentation and special features are a credit to their hard work and dedication.
Review by Chris from a disc kindly supplied by Exposure Cinema.
*** This edition will be limited to 3,000 units. ***
- Dual format edition: contains both Blu-ray Disc and DVD versions of the film
- High-bitrate, dual-layer encoding for high picture and sound quality
- New restoration, colour-timing corrected and produced from original vault elements
- Original trailer
- Still, poster and behind-the-scenes gallery featuring rare photos and international artwork
- Cut version comparison
- A Bloodstained Featherstorm – Interviews with cast and makers, including director Michele Soavi and leading lady Barbara Cupisti: An excellent insight into how the director and star of Stage Fright met and started working together.
- Giovanni’s Method – Interview with star Giovanni Lombardo Radice (aka John Morghen)
- Alan Jones: The Critic’s Take – the critic and FrightFest co-founder discusses the film in detail
- Joe D’Amato: Totally Uncut – Archival, hour-long interview with the film’s producer on his career in Italian horror cinema
- Revenge of the Video Cassette – documentary about VHS horror collectors: Well worth a watch for any fan of the VHS era.
- Video Chillers – collector’s illustrated ’80s-style booklet featuring new articles on late gialli and overlooked slashers, trivia and biographies
- Limited Collector’s Edition (3,000 copies)
- Original artwork used on front cover