Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Obscure Italian Horror: StageFright: Aquarius

Back again with more Obscure Italian Horror...because I can...also no one has written against it yet so again RottenReelzReviews at Facebook or oddly enough you can write for suggestions, hints, ideas or general comments or complaints.

So we have experienced some of the greats and some of the not-so-brilliant. This time around is director Michele Soavi (The Church, La setta, Cemetery Man, Francesco, The Goodbye Kiss, Blood of the Losers, Political Target and Anti-Drug Squad) a man that has acting with likes of directors Lucio Fulchi, Dario Argento, Joe D' Amato and Lamberto Bava that he decided to throw his hat in the directing wing with bizarre camera angles, mood lighting and scores of orchestral to electric to add to the tension. Soavi's directorial debut does not disappoint. This is Stagefright: Aquarius.


The subtle writings of George Eastman (Jailbirds, American Fever, Anthropophagus, Sexy Nights of the Living Dead, Porno Holocaust and 2020 Freedom Fighters) left me worried this was going to be another boobage and gore fest but apparently not quite. Our story opens on a troupe of actors who are struggling from the grueling performance of their production. Our lead, Alicia (Barbara Cupisti of Opera, The Church, Flight from Paradise, Cemetery Man and Only You) sprains her ankle. The wardrobe mistress Betty (Ulrike Schwerek of StageFright: Aquarius) and she drive up to the nearest hospital that just so happens to be an insane asylum...FORESHADOW ANYONE???? While speaking with one of the psychiatrists, Betty finds out that a famous actor Irving Wallace (Clain Parker of StageFright: Aquarius and Eleven Days, Eleven Nights) resides here after a nervous breakdown...Irving manages to sneak out of the whacko basket and slip into Alicia's trunk (boot for you folks across the pond) and no one is the wiser.    And you wonder why I don't want to leave anywhere near a mental hospital.

This cast is dead on their feet!  I'll slap myself for the pun.

With their director Peter (David Brandon of The Blade Master, Don't Wait Up, High Frequency, The Prince of Terror, Modi, Casablanca Express and Neverlake) cracking the whip he informs the cast they are locking the theater down until they get it right. An extravagant dance number with some hot saxophone brings out some excellent choreography to this performance art including an axe murder scene... no earthly idea why that was added when it is revealed the dancer in question was actually murdered. The troupe scared out of their minds demand Peter let them go when they realize he no longer has the key to the doors, the phones aren't working and they are cut off from the rest of the world. Will they make it out alive to call the cops? Will they all be picked off one by one?

A few tidbits of trivia now. There is an excellent scene where Brett (Giovanni Lombardo Radice of City of the Living Dead, Cannibal Ferox, Gangs of New York and The Omen) bows before a full length mirror only to see suddenly Irving there to dispatch him. A nod to Argento's Tenebre. Composed by Simon Boswell known for his creepier scores from Argento's Phenomena, Bava's Demons 2, Mortal Sins and Hardware it really builds proper tension, suspense and terror.

Shot with 35mm Spherical and using that fish eye lens for a 45 degree slant down corridors and wonderful panned shots brings all the bleakness together easily. For you gore fans there are chainsaw scenes, decapitations and general mayhem that will satisfy your bloodlust. For your more sophisticated pallet, you will find this to be a thriller as much as a slasher so the death scenes give off a sense of style and finesse.

Deborah Harry wants her wig back?  Damn.