Stage Fright / Deliria (1987)

4.5 out of 5

While rehearsing a musical about a serial killer, a group of theater performers encounter a real serial killer wearing an owl head mask, who proceeds to stalk and kill them in a variety of grisly ways.

Michele Soavi’s impressive directorial debut adds an Italian twist to the normal slasher film formula, with the stylish touches of a giallo. The film is quite suspenseful throughout. One notable scene involves the protagonist’s attempts to retrieve a key that has become stuck between the floorboards of the stage. She is forced to crawl underneath, right below the killer, in an effort to dislodge it.

The murders are extremely gory, including a graphic death by power drill. One bizarre set piece features the killer arranging the victim's corpses into various positions onstage, alongside mannequins and severed body parts. Classical music blares in the background, while white feathers float in the air.

Simon Boswell’s frightening score is a mixture of haunting electronics and dated jazz-rock. Some of the musical cues are similar to those used in Demons 2. Barbara Cupisti gives a convincing performance, while Giovanni Lombardo Radice is amusingly flamboyant. Soavi appears in a cameo role as a cop.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics