Saturday, October 24, 2015

Stagefright (1987)

Two vets of City of the Living Dead, Michele Soavi and Giovanni Lombardo Radice, reunite in Stagefright, Soavi as director and Radice as wisecracking gay actor.  This is far less garishly vicious than the fine old Fulci film, though, and it's best described as a marriage between giallo and the American crop of Halloween clones.  Only set in a theater.

Yes, it's a theater-within-a-film, which is sort of a novel concept for horror.  The giallo touches are present in some of the camerawork, in the quirky one-off characters, and especially in the synthy soundtrack.  As for the Halloween content: a lunatic escapes from a psychiatric hospital and starts slashing his way through the cast.  

The cast is...uneven.  Radice does his usual great job, but some of the other actors are a little stilted and the script isn't glorious enough to compensate.  Conceptually, this is pretty sweet and Soavi keeps things moving at a fast clip, but there are definitely flaws on parade, even if you're not a rigorous critic.

But there are also joys.  I'd laugh if someone told me this was a slasher holy grail in the April Fool's Day vein, but it's certainly better than most of the knifey crap I rented from video stores back in the eighties.  At least it's trying to be somewhat original, even if the results are rather mixed.  


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