Friday, June 13, 2014


STAGE FRIGHT (Aquarius, Bloody Bird, Deliria) Directed By Michele Soavi, Starring Barbara Cupisti. (1987.

It's been along time since I've seen this euro-trash mound of extra cheesy lasagna loaded to the gills with saxophones, dancers and an axe hacking, chainsaw welding killer owl on the loose. A bunch of stage actors are all set to put on a magical show that's Cats, West Side Story and Spiderman the musical all rolled into one with birds of course! What's the deal with killer birds and Italians anyway? New York Ripper had a phone terrorist with a duck voice, there was that Zombie sequel, I want an answer damnit! Italian exploitation was "putting a bird on it" long before Portlandia!

It's a full bird stuffed with ham, topped with gorgonzola

   There's so many prolific talents involved like George Eastman--using his pen name "Lew Cooper", John Morghen, Simon Boswell and Argento protege Michele Soavi. It's like an Italian horror fanatics wet dream. When Skunkape and I were in TV Production school epochs ago, he used to edit clips together of Soavi's work on a special episode you can even check out on Youtube. Click this link to see Direcor's Chat ( I let him borrow my Deep Red Alert with the Soavi interview and the rest is history. 
   The film starts off with the most mozzarella drenched gorgonzola scenes of overly made up actresses, choreographed moves, John Morghen in a body stocking wearing a giant owl headdress and people fussing over a play called The Night Owl. I would love to see the cast of It's Always Sunny recreate this musical as The Night Owl Cometh, but that's just ridiculous.

   The team of Eastman and Soavi, don't seem to give a fuck, they are a vital force of extraordinary trashiness, even if you don't like interpretive dance! Down at a mental ward, where the lobby has a giant aquarium with a lion fish they establish that a former actor named Irving Wallace became homicidal and chopped up 16 people. Gee--I wonder if someone from the institution might break out and start hacking the actors to bits? StageFright is an Italian slasher movie after all, but then again it's so much more!  
   The plotline of a maniac wearing a creepy mask escaping from an institution during a torrential downpour is patterned after Halloween, only the instruments of death are far more creative. The first female victim receives a pick axe face hit that goes straight down her throat!

I'm burning your bed with my cigarette from here!

   Something sinister is also going on with Peter the douche-bag stage director (played by Caligula The Untold Story's David Brandon), he's a coke fiend on a total power trip. He won't let any of the actors leave and promises them money and fame if they stay and work on The Night Owl. He was also genius enough to hide the key to the studio, so everyone is trapped for the night.

I'm good enough and smart enough and goshdarn-nit people like me

   John Morghen is hilarious as Brett, his dubbed voice almost sounds like Snagglepuss. Stagefright is campy and fun in the best way possible. The name Irving Wallace sounds more like a guy who manages a deli than an escaped lunatic in an Owl mask but what do I know?
One of the cops eating a donut while waiting in the car is played Michele Soavi (Mr. Demon mask). Willie, the friendly caretaker is played by the voodoo priest in Zombie 4.

Did you put Exlax in my donut again?

There are some technical downward shots in this film that are nice and stylized of brutal murders (well Soavi learned from the best)!
   While a male actor is strangled to death through a door, a drill tunnels through his bowels and a girl screams "Don't stand there do something"! I felt that it was the 80's fatigue of slasher movie female victims not lifting a finger to help and just screaming or basically awaiting their slow deaths. It was a subtle touch that made it seem as if Italians are bringing something new to the genre, which of course it's true, they are constantly innovators.

Is that an erection or are you just being impaled by an killer owl?

   The way Peter is always shining a spotlight on the killers ghastly murders, it seems as if he admires his work. I wont spoil the way he dies, because it's so fucking great!
Irving finally gets what he wants in the final act, sitting like a king among his "human trophies", petting a black cat as feathers drift around the stage.
The last time I rented Stagefright from Netflix, I remember half liking it, but after revisiting it, I have no idea what I was thinking because this one is incredible and an essential Italian slasher film! Here at TOG, we are very excited that Blue-Underground is planning on releasing the film on Blu-Ray with new extras that feature interviews with John Morghen and Michele Soavi!

I must have those shoes!

I'm not Winslow Leach, I'm Irving Wallace!

HAHA! I knew these white pants were stain resistant!

Owls and Cats are best buddies

Tribute Trailer
It's a Whoo done it!



  1. I was watching a film a few years back that featured footage from this (it was being screened during a cinema segment). The film, the title of which escapes me, I seem to recall was a joe D'amato filmrage softcore effort.

    The funniest thing was that it earned Barbara Cupisti and John Morghen a credit in a film they never signed up for. Sheer exploitation! :D I think it was Eleven Days Eleven Nights but not certain on that.

  2. I wouldn't put it past D'Amato, the guy is legendarily shameless and thank god for that!

  3. I loved the grin on his face during the Totally Uncut interviews. He had the look of a naughty little boy! It is also funny to hearD'amato talk of his methods- how he bought some pirate stock footage then stretched it to a handful of movies. So, shameless? YES! But certainly a decent cinematographer and his films do lookl polished enough. They may be cheap and tacky movies but they have a certain style to them that is absent in the work other directors who were in the same ballpark: Mattei, Bianchi and so on.


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