Director: Michele Soavi
Writer: George Eastman, Sheila Goldberg
Cast: David Brandon, Barbara Cupisti, Domenico Fiore
Length: 90 min
Label: Blue Underground
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English:DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
- Theatre Of Delirium: Interview with Director Michele Soavi
- Head Of The Company: Interview with Star David Brandon
- Blood On The Stage Floor: Interview with Star Giovanni Lombardo Radice
- The Owl Murders: Interview with Make-Up Effects Artist Pietro Tenoglio
- The Sound Of Aquarius: Interview with Composer Simon Boswell
- Theatrical Trailer
- Poster & Still Gallery
A troop of struggling thespians, under the strict guidance of their diva director, get locked inside a warehouse sized theatre over night with an escaped psychotic killer. They get picked off one by one in ever more gruesome ways. The play they are attempting to stage, features an owl headed serial killer and the madman on the loose quickly appropriates this outfit for himself.
It’s immediately apparent, to anyone who knows the genre, that through his work with Agrento, Fulci and Lamberto Bava, Michele Soavi clearly learned a great deal. Their influence is everywhere throughout the film, from the setting to the subject matter, and, of course, the gory deaths; although, Stagefright never quite gets as gruesome, as mean, or as innovative as the work by the aforementioned filmmakers. The film does, however, have rich cinematography, an interesting sound design, a wonderful and dramatic score, intentionally theatrical performances, and some violent set pieces, most notably one with a chainsaw. It is well executed and, for slasher fans, a delight.If you ever wanted to see Marilyn Monroe play fierce 80s sax, while a man in a black leotard body suit and a giant owl head performs Flashdance over the body of a dead hooker, then Stagefright is for you. It’s just a shame that the ridiculous invention and startling images really only crop up at the very beginning and very end of the film. Although the cast are really trying their hardest, belting most scenes out to the cheap seats, they are probably the film’s weakest aspect. The line reading, especially—through a little bit of ropey overdubbing—is more stilted and awkward than what would be expected. It suffers more than the average Italian horror film. Also, had the play within the film been developed better, they could have played heavier on life-imitating-art, art-imitating-life.
If you are coming to the film with high expectations, based off the loose connection to Bava and Arrgento, you will probably be disappointed; but from the costumes, to the lighting, to the gruesome climax, it’s certainly a visual treat and a worthy debut, only helped and enhanced by Blue Underground’s incredible transfer.
The AVC encoded 1080p transfer on this disc is incredible. It’s crisp with deep rich colors, nice blacks, and very-very low, but nicely intact, film grain. The transfer has been sourced from the original filmic elements, so nothing is left out for the true film fan and collector. The audio compliments the transfer perfectly, with a great, clear, nicely mixed 5.1 DTS-HD track.
The extras, a series of individual interviews with various people involved in the film—from Director Michele Soavi, who would go on to work with Terry Gilliam and make the cult hit Cemetery Man, to composer Simon Boswell—are a great added value to this disc. Each one is insightful and interesting and the fact that they are there at all is surprising, welcome, and shows a thoroughness in creating a comprehensive package. In addition, the original theatrical trailer and a poster and stills gallery has been included.
If you are already a fan of the film then this is a definite purchase. Blue Underground do incredible work when it comes to restoration and remastering. If you haven’t seen it yet, but you’re a fan of either Italian cinema in general or the Giallo genre, then this is a disc you’re going to want to own. It’s an important, iconic title that’s been given a strong, worthy Blu-Ray edition.