I remember seeing this film for the first time sometimes in the middle
of the 1990's and then on a swedish cut VHS
copy. I rented it because some kids wanted something to watch and my
nephew, 7-8 years old then, still remembers
it vividly with horror .... Fear of the Owl. I'm glad
i have given someone the Initiation into the world of Horror Film,
the passage we all love to have made (well, all of us horror fans at
My own initiation into the horror film world was probably in the 1960's
when I as a 7 year old kid watched the French
TV-series Belphégor - Le Fantome du Louvre (The
Phantom of the Louvre). I was supposed to be sleeping, but
crept up and joined my older sister and my cousins in the TV room. The
lights were out and they were so entranced
they didn't notice me joining them. It was so scary i had to endure
even more monsters under my bed for years.
What happens to all monsters under kids beds when you grow up? Do they
move out to find other youngsters?
Do they put in ads -" a slightly amorphous reptile-troll-spider
something monster seeks a kid's bed to live under" ?
Stage Fright, when re-watched, felt a bit B-ish with
lots of unlikeable and bitchy characters and that's understandable
as the film was a lowbudget production produced by low-budget maestro
Joe D'Amato (Aristide Massaccesi) and the
money was on a low ebb. BUT, Michele Soavi still managed to make an
(almost) genre classic out of this mess with
a closed setting of a theatre, great photo and with an Über Great
killer maniac on the loose.
One of the Best/Worst killers Ever in a horror film - The Owl
.... the man with the Barn Owl head on him (en Tornuggla
in swedish). He looks NASTY and he's an almost unstoppable killing machine.
There's a bit Dario Argento in this film, not strange with Soavi's Argento
connection, but even more Mario Bava mood
i think and especially with the theatre scene, the doll, the victims
as puppets in some sick minds twisted Murder Play.
This film just gets more and more filled with suspense and the ending
is truly intense.
The Nice cinematography was handled first by Renato Tafuri, and when
the money hit ebb mode, by the Maestro Him-
self - Aristide Massaccesi, an accomplished film photographer
A Theatre company (supposedly somewhere in the US) is
rehearsing a musical "The Night Owl" with it's story
based on the sensational news stuff about a famous serial killer. The
Killer, the ex-theatre actor Irving Wallace
has murdered 16 people at/in his latest theatre and is now locked into
a hospital for some checking.
When the lead actress Alicia (beautiful Barbara Cupisti) hurts her leg
she visits .... guess which hospital and guess
who escapes and follows them back to the theatre ?
This opening of the film with lots of unpleasant actors bickering and
a Z-grade hospital is a bit crude, but when
the killer enters the theatre the things really start going and there's
tension and intensity from there on.
The first victim is Betty, the costume girl and the
Media flocks the theatre. The Director Peter (David Brandon)
and the producer Ferrari (Piero Vida) are opportunists and sees a way
to make a whole lot of money out of the
murder. They will premiere in just 3 days instead of a week and Peter
locks his ensemble in and looses the key
for a night of intense rehearsals. The premiere will surely be outsold
due to the publics interest in Irving Wallace,
escaped murderer. There's just one problem, Mr. Wallace is also in the
theatre and he's The Owl on a rampage
Old US Anchor Bay DVD edition
Here's the bitchy Brett, who's supposed to act as The
Owl/Irving Wallace, and he's played by italian genre
legend in euro-crime, giallo and horror - Giovanni Lombardo Radice alias
John Morghen, but very soon the
Owl/Irving Wallace is played by Irving Wallace himself, unfortunately
for the cast and crew.
Barbara Cupisti is fine and Mary Sellers (as Laurel), Brandon and Morghen
are OK, but the rest stink.
There's some well made Gore, a smooth stage cat and and a sensational
Owl mask. And, as always in a slasher
there's a SLOW moving murderer and the youngsters in the cast could've
run in circles around him all night if
they wanted too, and when a slasher killer is down, please secure the
situation and check that he's really dead
The Booklet with text and photos
Blu-ray edition specs:
anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1, LPCM Stereo 2.0 english
with optional english subs for the HOH
Extras: Trailer, Gallery, Cut/Uncut scenes comparison, A Bloodstained
Featherstorm -featurette (28 min, 2013)
with interviews Barbara Cupisti, Michele Soavi, Luigi Montefiore, Mary
Sellers (in italian w. subs),
Giovanni's Method - featurette (21 min, 2013) interview
with Giovanni Lombardo Radice in italian w. subs,
Alan Jones - The Critic's Take (28 min, 2013) - This
extra material also appears on the DVD edition,but
Joe D'Amato - Totally Uncut Documentary
(54 min from 1999) only appears on the Blu-ray extras and it's in
italian with subs. The very, VERY sympathetic maestro of strange film
talks about his films and start with his 1st
directed film Death Smiles at Murder/La Morte ha sorriso all'assassino
from 1973 with Ewa Aulin & Klaus Kinski.
Aristide Massaccesi seems very friendly and softspoken and he doesn't
take his Oeuvre too seriously, he thinks the
interest in his films (that started to grow at this time) only started
because of Nostalgia, off film times long gone past.
This documentary is directed by a Roger Fratter and it was included
alson on the Shriek Show 2 disc edition of
Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper,
Revenge of the Video Cassette (25 min featurette about VHS collector
nerds, Booklet with thext and photos