Stage Fright (Blu-ray Review)

Stage Fright While a group of young actors rehearse a new musical about a mass murderer, a notorious psychopath escapes from a nearby insane asylum. But when the shows director locks his cast in the theater overnight, the madman is accidentally locked inside as well. Now, a killer with acting in his blood has gone berserk for the blood of actors (including several scenes that EuroHorror fans worldwide consider to be the most violent of the decade) and the stage is set for one unforgettable evening of shock! An all-new Special Edition Blu-ray! Please keep in mind that this version of Stage Fright was released in 1987. There was another film released earlier this year by the same name, as well. They’re NOT the same film. 


Stage Fright




Stage Fright is the latest import form Blue Underground and tells the story of a group of young actors who are rehearsing for a special musical show that is to performed shortly at what looks to be a ruined down music theater. Near by, a psychopath has escaped an insane asylum and has disguised himself as a giant owl – yes, a giant owl, and is picking off the cast one at a time. Well, not only is he picking them off one at a time he’s also doing it in groups and in plain site, which adds to the overall creepiness and “ballsy” factor of the film.

Stage Fright was director Michele Soavi’s first film and it’s a very assured project – it helps that he was a Dario Argento protégé, too. Of course assured direction is no substitute for a decent script and I really can’t find one in Stage Fright. Common sense was also thrown out the door. Let’s see if I can explain some of it without giving up spoilers. One of the first kills committed by the killer in the musical happens outside in the parking lot. A person gets killed, is discovered, and the cops along with the media are called in. In all honesty I may have missed some of the transitional plotting that went from the body being discovered to the cast somehow getting sealed inside the theater. This is no excuse for there to still be people left at what is essentially a crime scene. Someone just got killed outside the premises, so why are they allowed to stay at the crime scene?

That was one of the most glaring problems I had with the film in addition to the some of the characters being complete idiots. Granted, this is the typical idiocy that you find in horror slasher films, but it’s idiocy nonetheless. All is not lost, because I really enjoyed the music score by Simon Boswell and I really enjoyed the rehearsal dance and theater number that prefaces the slasher portions of the film. I also enjoyed the creepiness factor of the killer donning that scary looking owl mask. That’s one visage I never thought I would see in a slasher movie. It gets points for creativity.

Stage Fright runs your typical 1 hour 30 minutes but is densely filled with a bigger than normal cast and some great and creative kills. It’s not the best film to come out of the “new generation” of Italian cinema but it is highly regarded. Stage Fright is what it’s called here in the United States but also goes by the names of Aquarius, Deliria, and Blood Bird in other territories. In fact, during the opening credits, Aquarius is still retained underneath the Stage Fright logo. It would make sense since this Blu-ray edition comes from the original uncensored film negative.

In any event, if you’re a horror film enthusiast, you will get a kick out of Stage Fright. I am also aware that there’s another film by the same that was just released on DVD but don’t know if it’s a remake of this version. Our reviewer Brandon Peters has reviewed it HERE. I’ll let you decide.



Stage Fright


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: Blue Underground definitely didn’t skimp on the restoration of Stage Fright for Blu-ray. I thought I was looking at Maniac Cop 2 again. This is a pristine film presentation that doesn’t look like it was tampered with. They seemed to have fixed whatever needed fixing without going overboard. Well done!

Depth: Stage Fright will transport you back to the 80’s and so will this Blu-ray! The depth is astonishing and the environment benefits from a high definition presentation.

Black Levels: The majority of the film takes place at night and in low-lit interiors. I did not detect any instances of black crush or compression during these scenes.

Color Reproduction: Yes, it’s the 80’s; therefore break out the garish colors! Ok, they actually kept the color palette in check and only got a bit garish during the musical number rehearsals. Those scenes really pop out.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are consistent throughout the film unless someone starts to lose a lot of blood.

Noise/Artifacts: I only found a smidgeon or two but nothing catastrophic.


Stage Fright


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: Stage Fright may look great on Blu-ray but it doesn’t push the boundaries in terms of audio presentation. In fact, I kept looking at my powered subwoofer to see if it would turn on during scenes of LFE and it never did. This audio track can almost be considered a 5.0 track as opposed to a 5.1 one.

Low Frequency Extension: I did not detect that many instances of LFE in the film. This can almost be considered a 5.0 track.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels are very dynamic and increase levels of dread. You can hear music but you can also hear footsteps, creaking, etc., which makes for a lively show.

Dialogue Reproduction: There are many doozy lines in the film and they can all be heard without any problems.


Stage Fright


Blue Underground loaded up Stage fright with quite few quality extras. Most are presented in HD, with only a couple presented in SD.

  • Theatre Of Delirium – Interview with Director Michele Soavi (SD, 19:00) – An older interview with first time director (at the time) Michele Soavi and he gives a very in-depth interview as to how he was the lucky person to bring Stage Fright to the masses.
  • Head Of The Company – Interview with Star David Brandon (HD, 12:00) – A very charming interview by lead David Brandon, who reminisces about his experience making Stage Fright. 
  • Blood On The Stage Floor- Interview with Star Giovanni Lombardo Radice (SD, 14:00) – Here’s another archival interview with star Giovanni Lombardo Radice and he recounts his time on the Stage Fright set.
  • The Owl Murders – Interview with Make-Up Effects Artist Pietro Tenoglio (HD, 11:00) – I’m a big fan of make-up effects featurettes in general but this one is more of make-up effects artist Pietro Tenoglio who talks more about producer Joe D’Amato and the times that were spent during production and in between as opposed to the actual craft of make-up effects. It’s a bit of a buzz kill but what can you do?
  • The Sound Of The Aquarius – Interview with Composer Simon Boswell (HD, 18:00) – Simon Boswell discusses in-depth what it was like to score Stage Fright in addition to his other Italian film productions and filmography in general. Simon Boswell has done it all. This is a great interview and features lots of footage of Boswell during his glory days as a musician in a band and how he entered the movie business.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD) – Theatrical trailer for Stage Fright presented in high definition.
  • Poster & Still Gallery  – A poster and still gallery are presented for your scrolling pleasure.


Stage Fright


Stage Fright was an ok film that got dragged down quite a bit by some of the stupidest characters I have ever seen in recent horror. I understand it was made in the late 80’s but even still that’s no excuse for them being this dumb. The technical specifications are not to be looked down on since the video is near reference, with only average sound. The extras are actually very entertaining and informative. I do give Stage Fright and E for effort and an A for gore. There are some pretty great kills in the film that any horror hound will love.



Order Stagefright on Blu-ray!

Stage Fright


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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