I really, truly cannot wrap my brain around how it’s possible that you had escaped my attention until just now. Released in 1987, you are a perfect, little jewel box of horror cinema. The 80’s were abundant with overly colorful movies that featured awful saxophone heavy soundtracks; you embraced this without being overtly cliche or ordinary. Bringing the story of a group of actors locked in a theatre overnight with an escaped lunatic, you managed to make an owl head seem scary and imposing. Yes, towards the end, the owl head became a bit giggle inducing, but the scene where it is revealed in the mirror while an actor bows is an especially effective and lovely nod to Dario Argento.
I will never tire of all of the expected character stereo types in 80’s movies. I really enjoy watching the macho guy, the bitchy girl, the quiet, intelligent girl, the token gay guy, the less intelligent guy and the screeching female die one by one. I also enjoy seeing the random inmate from the local looney bin escape and terrorize this very specific group of people. So, while this sounds like a hundred other horror movies from the totally tubular 80’s, “StageFright” is working on a higher level.
This movie is beautiful and wonderfully shot with inventive camera angles and clever uses of sound effects. I felt as though it was taking itself seriously, but also in on it’s own self-serious joke at the same time. How is this possible? Don’t know and don’t care. I love this movie through and through; even it’s horrible soundtrack and abominable wigs and makeup. That being said, the gore is simply divine and fantastic:there is some chainsaw carnage that is wonderfully unflinching. Just the ladies face makeup is questionable. It was the 80’s, so I suppose I should be lenient, but I just can’t find it in me. I was running around being a Duranie and dressing like Madonna at this time and I already knew better than to apply blush in an aggressive stripe.
Outside of my trivial complaints with blush application, this is a beautiful, beautiful horror movie. StageFright, I adore you to bits and pieces. The suspense at the end of the film when our intelligent and strong heroine is trying to retrieve the door key from, literally, right underneath the killer’s nose is very Hitchcock. The visual of the white feathers falling during the penultimate scene between good and bad is decadent and perfect. I could go on for days and days about all of the pieces of the movie that make it a perfect whole, but that would be exasperating and self indulgent. Oh, StageFright, you are a beautiful, complex, gory, and shining example of 80’s horror at it’s best. If “Halloween” and” Valley Girl” had a baby, it would be you and I cannot imagine anything more sublime.
-StageFright is currently out of print, but is still easily attainable on Amazon or Ebay.