Stage Fright

Stage Fright

Michele Soavi's 'Stage Fright' (aka 'Aquarius' and 'Deliria') has long been a personal favourite of mine since its release back in 1986. I've owned many of its incarnations on VHS and with the advent of DVD I've been longing for this cracker to make its rightful way onto the shiny disc format and I was more than pleased when I heard that EC Entertainment where brining it home...

The films basic premise takes place at the rehearsals for a new 'horror' musical production where the show's manic director is pushing his cast to the limit with the worry of an impending opening night looming. One of the cast sprains her ankle and sneaks off to a nearby hospital for some treatment so she can continue with her work. What she doesn't realise until too late is that it's actually a psychiatric hospital and as they will all soon discover one of it's patients has smuggled himself back to the sound stage in the boot of her car. The impending terror scenario is made double fold when the irate director locks the cast in for the night to concentrate on their work and the unwelcome guest in their midst is actually an infamous serial killer who is completely insane!

Simple but very stylish, 'Stage Fright' is a cracking horror movie that will please fans of modern Italian cinema no end. Soavi's solo foray into the genre is an absolute delight that moves along with great pace displaying his talents to come (in the likes of The Sect and Dellamorte Dellamore) with some great work in this shocker classic. Equally brilliant and core to the films high entertainment value is the excellent soundtrack by SGM fave Simon Boswell with probably one of his best works to date, enhancing totally the musical/dance scenario that the film revolves around.

Also of note are some nicely executed death scenes which deliver some great gore (in that inimitable Italian style) and cast wise fan fave John Morghen appears in a role he must have found so natural (as the dance troupes camp queen) and watch out for Soavi himself in one of his infamous cameo roles as a vain bumbling policeman (bringing some light-hearted relief to the proceedings).

The disc from EC doesn't disappoint either - as I mentioned I've owned many variations of the film on various video releases over the years and EC's disc is absolutely stunning. The print image quality is faultless, pin sharp throughout with strong colour detail that impressed me no end. The film is presented in its original full screen ratio but (like Redemption's earlier video release) can be watched with a theatrical matte option, which unlike the lacking Bride of the Re-Animator usage this is actually carried off very well indeed. The audio is a bit mixed bag early on as although the film throughout delivers Boswell's excellent thumping score in glorious 2.0 surround the spoken track seems a tad low early in the proceedings. All round though, this is definitely the best you're likely ever to see this gem presented (and both Salvation and Anchor Bay will have to work very hard to top it!)

The extras are of the usual cool standard that we have grown to expect from this sort of package - there's a nice theatrical trailer for the film and a great image gallery with a large selection of cover images for all the various versions of the film that have been available world-wide. There is also a rather poorly transferred music video on show also which to be honest is musical torture anyway that you're unlikely to watch more than once anyway! And finally there's the obligatory bio pages too!

'Stage Fright' is a great film and this lovely new transfer from the original negatives deserves your attention. Very cool -buy it!

Review by Alan Simpson

*NOTE* Another chapter in the matting debate opened recently with the news that once again Anchor Bay had chosen to matte another genre release to enhance/create an anarmorphic widescreen transfer.

So what do you think? Click on the link here for the screen grab comparisons between the EC open matte and AB matted releases and decide whether or not you think matting for anarmorphic transfer is your thing? I'll be sticking to my EC disc thanks very much!

Directed by Michele Soavi
Released by EC Entertainment
Region '0' NTSC - Rated 18
Ratio - original fullscreen
Audio - 2.0 Stereo
Running time : approx 87 mins
Extras :
Music video, Cover gallery, Bios, Trailer and Theatrical matte option