The Graveyard: Digging up ‘Stage Fright’ (1987)


Towards the late 80’s, the Slasher craze was beginning to die off as interest in the genre faded. Due to the decline, a lot of underrated Slasher Films were brushed under the rug and forgotten about.

Join us as we take a look at one such title… Stage Fright!

Although Slasher movies helped to reintroduce the general audience to the Horror genre, the interest was starting to fade when American production companies started churning out sequel after sequel, with the quality dipping with each installment. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though! there were still some quality films released towards the back end of the 80’s.

The filming of Stage Fright took place primarily in Italy; although this movie is considered an Italian/American production, not a lot of it was filmed on US soil. Director Michele Soavi was sitting in the directors chair for the first time, Italian genre legend Joe D’Amato served as a producer, and writing/dialog duties went to George Eastman AKA Luigi Montefiori, who wrote the classic nasty Antropophagus, and Shelia Goldberg.

The obligatory plot synopsis from the IMDB page:

"A troupe of struggling stage actors are rehearsing for a small-town production of a play. Everything seems to be as it should until one of the cast members turns up dead. In a panic, the others try to get out, only to find they are now locked in the theatre with the killer! Which one of them committed the murder? and who will get out alive?"

Artists Entertainment Group (image credit)

“Jump… might as well jump!”


Produced on a budget of $1,000,000, the movie went on to debut at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival, which was held in France. The film was then screened for Australian audiences in the February before receiving an official release in France in the March. The film then opened in Soavi’s native Italy on August 21, 1987. It took until May 1989 for the movie to receive a limited theatrical run in the USA before being released on home video in October of that year.

The one thing to note about Stage Fright is that it was released under multiple titles, such as Deliria, Bloody Bird, Sound Stage Massacre, and Aquarius. The world wide complete title for the movie was officially known as Stage Fright: Aquarius. As with my previous article on Psycho 4, I was unable to find any box office information, so again, I apologise for that.

My Thoughts on ‘Stage Fright’

Unlike most of the American Slasher efforts in the late 80’s, Stage Fright really stands out from the crowd. You can really tell there was a fair bit of Italian influence on the film, especially that of the ‘Giallo’ genre, just by looking at the way the movie was shot and use of music and camera angles.

Personally, I hold Stage Fright very close to my heart and would easily place it in my top 5 Slasher movies of all time list. Although it may seem a little far fetched and bizarre upon the first watch, I urge you to give it repeat viewings as it is a very solid effort from a first time director (although we all know he had some GREAT tutors).

via Artists Entertainment Group

“Just chillin’… killin’…”

Did you know?

This was Michele Soavi’s debut as a feature film director. He also had a small cameo as one of the young police officers staking out the theatre. Soavi had just turned 30 the month before the films release in Italy. Soavi stated in an interview that the ending was a wink and a nudge to the then ongoing theme in American Slasher movies (no spoilers here folks).

Q: What do genre legends Joe D’Amato, Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava have in common?

A: ‘Stage Fright’ Director Michele Soavi once served as assistant director to all three of them. Fun fact! D’Amato was actually developing a remake of Stage Fright before his death in 1999. One idea had the killer loose in a TV studio, and the other was a cruise liner.

Italian Horror legend Giovanni Lombardo Radice appears as ‘Brett’. Many of you will know Giovanni from City of the Living Dead, Cannibal Ferox, The Church, and The Omen reboot from 2006.

But where can I see it?

Stage Fright is currently available form Amazon UK for £11.98 and Amazon USA for $14.99. Both of these listings are for the Duel-Format edition which includes the movie on both DVD and Blu Ray. It also includes a cool little booklet on the movie written by a UK-based film researcher.

Next: The Graveyard: Digging up Mick Garris’ Psycho IV: The Beginning

Will you be checking this movie out? Seen it already and we’ve jogged your memory? Let us know in the comments below or on our social media pages, FacebookTwitter and Instagram.