Stagefright a.k.a. Deliria a.k.a. Bloody Bird (Michele Soavi, 1987)

A killer wearing an owl mask in Michele Soavi's StageFright

Deliria / Bloody Bird / Stagefright / Aquarius / Stage Fright / Aquarius – Theater des Todes (1987) Directed by: Michele Soavi. Produced by: Aristide Massacessi, Donatella Donati Cast: Barbara Cupisti, David Brandon, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Mickey Knox, Robert Gligorov, Loredana Parrella, Mary Sellers.

STAGEFRIGHT is a really strong debut feature from the last great Italian genre filmmaker, Michele Soavi (THE SECT).

The Story

A serial killer escapes from an asylum and starts killing actors rehearsing in a small theatre on a rainy night. Luigi Montefiori penned a decent slasher film set in a confined space. STAGEFRIGHT may be the best film he’s ever written.

The Cast

As far as slashers go, STAGEFRIGHT has a pretty colourful cast of characters. Sadly, the more colourful ones die early on. Barbara Cupisti is the final girl in the first of her three roles for Soavi. Expat actor Mickey Knox (DAY OF THE COBRA) and Soavi himself provide comic relief as cops posted outside the theatre.

Things that work

STAGEFRIGHT is a really strong debut film from Michele Soavi. The filmmaker succeeds in making a basically low-budget slasher look like something very special. Cinematographer Renato Tafuri employs lots of impressive camera angles. Limited set design is put to good use, with some very eerie moments involving masks and dummies. Another strong point is the editing. Some of these Filmirage productions can be quite choppy with a plodding rhythm. Not the case here: STAGEFRIGHT flows really well.

The Maniac

A hulking figure wearing an oversized owl mask. Unforgettable.

The Kills

STAGEFRIGHT packs a nice selection of inventive murders, some of them quite gory. The kills are well-staged and graphic enough to satisfy the gore fans without becoming self-indulgent.

The Music

Whether STAGEFRIGHT is really scary is up for debate. The film has heaps of atmosphere, though. A good deal of it is conjured through Simon Boswell’s incredible music.

STAGEFRIGHT is an enjoyable slasher film from the twilight years of the genre. The film ticks the obligatory boxes without becoming too conventional.

Reviewed by Alex Bakshaev in June 2020