Michelle Soavi's Stagefright, perennial also-ran of Italian horror, makes its Blu-ray debut, courtesy of the fine folks at Blue Underground, those who won't rest until they've gotten us all up to date on everything exploitation. Soavi's whodunit slasher opus trades heavily on atmosphere to deliver some gory goods and lots of stylish tension.
Only the '80s could spawn a slice-and-dice affair in which the opening salvo is a stage production of a musical featuring a murderous, disco-dancing owl. Thankfully after this intro that makes Rent look like Ibsen, things settle down a bit. Unfortunately, for our cast of actors that is, the mysterious, iconic, and frankly creepy owl character turns from a thespian play-acting with a prop knife into a psychopath employing real chain-saws, drills, and other implements of bloody destruction.
As is so often the case, the principals in this play of persecution are a little daft, barely sketched-in as it were, or a bit cliche, if you will. We don't really give two cents who lives or who dies, but suffice it to say, they pretty much all die. (Is that a spoiler?) What we're here for is style and bile, which Stagefright delivers with equal skill. Soavi, who served under Dario Argento for years, (and never even considered directing - per this disc's extras) clearly learned a lot from the Maestro. Awash in glowing cerulean tones, the movie represents an underwater rapture; heavy rains outside, and a rain of blood inside.
Soavi wrings tension from a leisurely pace, in which disembowlings and bisections don't begin to seriously goose the narrative until 50 minutes in, at which point there's enough claret sloshed about to more than satisfy the average gorehound. Impeccable pacing and mis-en-scene mark Soavi's first effort as a fine entry into the Italian horror canon, and (also per the extras) we have the infamous George Anthropophagous Eastman to thank for it! Stagefright, on Blu-ray with a nice handful of extras, is Recommended to complete your spaghetti-splatter collection.
The Owl Murders, an 11-minute interview with Make-Up Effects Artist Pietro Tenoglio, doesn't go as in-depth into the actual subject of special effects as one would like, but might as well let the old guy ramble. The Sound Of Aquarius, an 18-minute interview with Composer Simon Boswell, wraps up the featurettes in fine form. In addition to French and Spanish Subtitles and English SDH Subtitles, Blue Underground wraps things up with the Original Theatrical Trailer and a Poster & Still Gallery.