Stage Fright 2005 Review
Stage Fright 2005
Directed by: Rick Jordan
Starring: Craig Saslow, Christopher Wolfe, Clive Kennedy
Review by Luis Joaquín González
I got an email recently from one of my readers asking me to review Stage Fright. I immediately replied with the link to my write-up of Michele Soavi’s 1987 slasher spectacular. He replied only, ‘No, I’ve read that, I meant the other Stage Fright.’ So with that, I forwarded my thoughts on Colin Eggerton’s nude-fest from 1980, hoping that finally, I’d fulfilled the request. His response was almost identical, ‘No, that’s not the one I meant.’ I wrote back asking if he was referring to the stalk and slash musical from last year or the newest entry that’s currently playing in cinemas as The Gallows? His answer was something along the lines of, ‘The OTHER Stage Fright damn it.‘ This could have gone on forever, but I suddenly felt the urge to take a siesta. Of course, he was absolutely right.
There are five (or more?) Stage Frights that I know of and all of them were released at different stages of the cycle. In a way, you could use each as a marker to define the milestones of the genre’s lifespan. The first came out hot on the heels of Halloween, whilst Soavi’s hit was a rare slice of panache during the comedown of that boom. Rick Jordan’s is by far the most obscure of them all and was produced slap bang between the euphoria of Scream‘s rebirth and the period of creativity that we are currently witnessing. The fact that it’s so tough to track down a copy somewhat heightens its allure.
A crew that are desperately working on an amateur production of Hamlet, come into some luck when they secure a large theatre in order to rehearse and prepare for their show. Despite its location and classic feel, the complex was once the sight of a gruesome massacre and the reputation has lingered ever since. As soon as the group begin to practice, an unseen killer starts bumping off the cast members one by one. Who could be behind the murders?
So this one starts rather weirdly for a slasher in as much as it takes about twenty-minutes to introduce any indications that it’s even a horror film. We get to meet a group of characters who seem to argue and jest without adding any depth to their characterisations at all. There’s an English producer who is ruthless and stereotypically money hungry, a director that demands respect for past achievements that no one seems to acknowledge and an author who is infuriated at the way the others are making a mockery of Shakespeare’s work. Chuck in a couple of hot chicas and three guys that are much of a muchness and all the ingredients were there for a decent slasher romp.
A decent slasher romp is not really what we get, but after an impossibly long opening, the pace does pick up somewhat when the killings start. The group split up to begin looking for an open exit (the doors were locked by a mysterious force) and then they are picked off by the psycho in imaginative, if gore-free, ways. What I guess is slightly different about Stage Fright is that it kind of comes full-circle when the killer reveals himself and is defeated in a sword fight (?). Then another maniac turns up – a supernatural one (?) – and we start again almost from scratch! Our remaining two players are stalked by the supernatural guy (who doesn’t seem to have any mystical powers of note) until he is stopped by exactly the same method that we saw in a popular Australian slasher from five-years earlier. It almost as if they completed the movie and then bolted on some extra scenes when they realised that the running time was just over an hour. Either that or the screenwriter was overly ambitious and wanted to include a bit of everything? Who knows…
It could be said that coincidentally, this Stage Fright is a sum of parts of all of the others. The whole whodunit backstory was memorable of Eggerton’s early entry. Those supernatural ingredients could be considered similar to Stage Fright aka ‘The Gallows that’s currently playing in cinemas. There’s a lot of dialogue based around the fear of the opening day that reminded me of the musical Stage Fright, and sitting all the corpses in chairs on the stage was directly copy and pasted from Soavi’s classic. I guess I am just waffling. So to cut a over-long review short, Stage Fright is a bit of a bare bones slasher and lacks gloss, grace, style and grit. It started really badly, but picked up briefly enough during the mid-section to keep me entertained. Probably not worth the effort of hunting down, but you won’t be too disappointed if you come across it cheap…