The theatre of death.StageFright -Aquarius-
and Stage Fright
) is an Italian Slasher Movie
elements from the year 1987. It is the first feature film directed by Michele Soavi, who also did Cemetery Man
seven years later. The screenplay was written by Italian horror veteran George Eastman.
The film opens with our main characters rehearsing the play by the name of The Night Owl
. Alicia, one of the actors, slips away briefly with Betty to get some treatment for her sprained ankle. They visit the local psychiatric hospital, where Alicia runs to Irving Wallace, an actor who recently went crazy and gruesomely killed and mutilated 16 people. Irving manages to escape from the hospital and hitches a ride with the women to the theatre. He then kills Betty just outside the theatre. After Alicia finds her body, the police are quickly called to the scene.
After the police and the press leave, Peter the director convinces the main funder Ferrari and the cast to keep on practising the play, as the murder can get them more attention. To ensure the show going on, he locks up the doors, not knowing that Irving is with them and about to start hacking them up in various ways.
Examples within the film:
- All Part of the Show: When Irving kills Corinne, Peter's first reaction is to wonder why is he using a knife.
- Alliterative Name: Alicia Alvarez.
- An Arm and a Leg: Irving cuts off Peter's right before his chainsaw runs out of fuel.
- Auto Erotica: When Laurel is being called to the stage, she is busy making out with Dominic in an automobile prop.
- Ax-Crazy: Irving.
- An Axe to Grind: When the troupe arm themselves in the workshop, Peter takes an axe.
- Barrier-Busting Blow: Irving punches through a door to grab Mark.
- Big Bad: Irving Wallace.
- Big "NO!": Peter's last words.
- Blood from the Mouth: Corinne bleeds from the mouth after being stabbed.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: At the very end, supposedly dead Irving smirks at the camera. According to Soavi, it's a Lampshade Hanging on how the killer is always alive at the end.
- Bury Your Gays
- California Doubling: The film is set in New York, but it was directed in Italy.
- Camp Gay: Brett.
- Cat Scare: Willy's cat Lucifer provides one to Betty when she goes to check her car.
- Chainsaw Good: When Danny goes after Irving, he kills him with a chainsaw.
- Closed Circle: Peter locks up the he theatre to coerce the actors to accept his sensationalistic changes to the script.
- Covers Always Lie: Some posters depict Irving smashing a fish tank with an axe. The fish tank in question does appear, but it doesn't get destroyed.
- Creator Cameo: Soavi as the younger cop.
- One of film's writers appears as a nurse.
- Cut Phone Lines: Irving cuts the phone line to the theatre.
- Death by Materialism: Ferrari dies soon after leaving behind others to secure his briefcase full of his money.
- Death by Mocking: Brett, who according to the characters is fond of pranks.
- Dirty Old Man: Ferrari, according to the cast.
- Donut Mess with a Cop: The younger cop stationed outside happily munches on a donut while the older cop laments the fact that his wife forces him to eat healthily.
- Eye Scream: Alicia stabs Irving in the eye when he grabs her.
- Final Girl: Alicia
- Flipping the Bird: Laurel flips off Brett when he waves at her from the sidelines.
- Glasses Girl: Corinne.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: Irving pulls Sybil through a floor, and as Peter and Danny try to pull her up, he slices her in half.
- Hanging by the Fingers: When Irving loses his balance up in the scaffolds, he finds himself hanging onto a ledge and Alicia hitting his fingers with a fire extinguisher.
- Heroic BSOD: Willy gets one when he shoots Irving..
Willy: I... I just went to get the gun, trying to show you how to put a bullet in the chamber. See that? I got him right between the eyes! Just like I said... Right between the eyes! Damn... You see that Ally? Right betw... right between the eyes! Just like I said. Between... between the eyes. Got him... etc.
- Homage: The Mirror Scare scene is a homage to Dario Argento's Tenebre, where Soavi worked as an assistant director.
- A House Divided: Averted, as whe the remaining cast starts to crack in the dressing room, Alicia quickly tells them off.
- Hysterical Woman: Sybil after Corinne's death.
- Implacable Man
- Jerkass: Peter is one throughout the production.
- Kick the Dog: Peter pushing Laurel at Irving when he is approaching the two. Prior to this, he throws the cat Lucifer across the stage.
- Mad Artist: Irving seems to be one. After he thinks that he has killed everyone, he organizes the bodies bizarrely on the stage, setting up a fan to blow feathers across them, and takes a seat at the stage's center with the theater's cat on his lap. Dialogue exchange earlier in the film reveals that he posed the bodies during his last slayings.
- Man on Fire: Alicia sets Irving on fire with one of the Trashcan Bonfire props.
- Mirror Scare: When Brett takes a bow for an imaginative audience on front of a mirror, it is shown that Irving was standing behind him.
- Morning Sickness: Sybil is pregnant and suffers from this throughout the film.
- Murder by Mistake: Peter kills Brett in the attic, thinking that he was attacking Irving.
- Mysterious Past: We're not told why Irving went insane and why exactly he arranges his victims bodies the way he does.
- Never Split the Party: When the cast realizes that they can't get out the building, Peter suggests that they stay together and retreat to the dressing room. However, due to Alicia's sprained ankle they all can't go to get the spare keys together. This leads Peter and Danny justifiable splitting up with others temporarily to go look for them.
- No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: In-universe, Mark decides to uses Betty's murder to get some extra publicity for their play. He also alters the script to more closely resemble the Irving Wallace murders.
- Not Quite Dead
- Off with His Head!: Irving beheads Peter. He also does it to one of the mannequins when he is organizing his "exhibit".
- One-Woman Wail: On the soundtrack.
- Peek-A-Boo Corpse: Irving sets Ferrari's corpse on a rope to surprise the men who come looking after him.
- Pet the Dog: Peter gets such moment when he openly admits his faults.
- Screaming Woman
- The Show Must Go On: Peter convinces the cast to keep on practicing after Betty's murder, because now they have change for some recognition.
- Show Within a Show: The Night Owl, a sleaze-filled dance play featuring sex and murder. Has it's own tropes:
- Silent Antagonist: Irving.
- Staggered Zoom: Used when Irving falls from the scaffolds and his body is shown.
- This Is a Drill: Mark is killed with a power drill.
- Those Two Guys: The two cops stationed outside the theater, who provide little comic relief.
- Token Minority: Willy.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The first instance of Sybil's morning sickness.