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By James Whittington, Thursday 30th December 2021 Stagefright Shameless Entertainment Certificate 18 ****
Also known as Aquarius, Deliria and Bloody Bird, Michele Soavi's bold directorial debut Stagefright finally gets the Shameless treatment. Released at the backend of the slasher trend this 1987 effort takes the genre in a far more artistic direction than most of the era and stands up to close scrutiny to this day. More recent movies such as Halloween (2018) and Climax (2018) seems to have taken some themes from this which is a fine reminder of why slasher movies don't just start and end with the more famous franchises.
When a masked killer infiltrates a group of actors rehearsing overnight in an isolated theatre, the stage is set for carnage! Featuring an abundance of over-the-top kills and spills, shot with Soavi's typical style, marvel at the mayhem as the iconic chainsaw wielding 'Owl Man', delivers a blood-soaked performance for the ages.
Bold, inventive and solid, this is a slasher/giallo blend that can compete with the greats of the age even if it is a by-the-numbers effort. Borrowing some moment from other such movies, Stagefright is a film which keeps the body count high and the violence front and centre. But not too much blood for the more squeamish amongst you. The mask the killer wears, that of a human sized owl, is pretty creepy even if the idea is bizarre and works perfectly. The murder set-pieces are staged very well, in particular one involving a pickaxe, very little blood on show but a superb build up to it.
The cast are made up of predictable theatrical stereotypes, but the actors do their best with some dodgy dialogue. The strange thing is that this adds a certain, innocent charm to the movie instead of dating it too much. The camera work reflects that of Soavi's mentors Dario Argento and Terry Gilliam with bold angles and an assured use of bold shades and colours.
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