StageFright: Aquarius (1987) AKA Deliria
Directed by Michele Soavi, protege of Dario Argento, this is his directorial debut, better known for “Cemetery Man AKA Dellamorte Dellamore (1994).” This film (also called “Bloody Bird”) garnered him the title of one of the most important up and coming Italian directors, not to mention it is a brilliant slasher film. Before he took the rains of director he spent a lot of time working within the Italian horror genre as Second Unit or Assistant Director for people like Lamberto Bava (Son of Mario Bava), Dario Argento and Aristide Massaccesi (Better known as Joe D’Amato, who is also a good friend and producer on StageFright). Also having small roles in movies like Dario Argento’s “Opera,” “Phenomena,” “Tenebrae” and Lamberto Bava’s “A Blade in the Dark” among many.
He is mainly famous for his genre films: “StageFright,” “The Church (Co-written and produced by Dario Argento)”, “La Setta (Also Co-written and produced by Argento)” and “Cemetery Man.” But spent time working on a diverse body of work including Terry Gilliam’s “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.” He is quoted as saying “I don’t like to repeat myself. I am always trying to do something new with each film.” The only actor I recognize is Giovanni Lombardo Radice under the name John Morghen who was also in Soavi’s “La Setta.” You might recognize him as the lead in Umberto Lenzi’s “Cannibal Ferox AKA Make Them Die Slowly,” With small roles in Lucio Fulci’s “City of the Living Dead,” and Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York,” etcetera.
The plot is simple. A theatre troop is putting on a musical/play and it is one of the last rehearsals before opening night. The show is about a killer dressed like an owl raping and murdering people set to music. An actress sprains her ankle and she and a fellow actress go to a mental hospital to get free help stating that psychiatrists are doctors too. A real life murderer escapes and hitches a ride with her. When the friend dies the director decides to make the villain in the play based on the real killer for ratings and decides to lock the doors to the building and the killer is locked in with them. Then the blood spills. It is funny, and scary and of course gory. It also happens to be very well written and directed with style. Not your typical EuroHorror and you can definitely see Argento’s influences, lighting, use of color. At times it seems very surreal, almost dream-like.
In my opinion it is one of the best slasher films to come out of any country during the eighties with some amazing set-pieces like the killer staging his own scene using the actor-turned-corpses as characters on the stage positioning them to create his vision.
It is presented widescreen, uncut and uncensored with a trailer and director bio. The version I am referring to is the Anchor Bay version.
All in all I highly recommend this film to everyone. It is strange, it is gory and it is fun.