Stage Fright (aka Deliria)

JULY 6, 2007


You may have noticed that many of my writeups begin with little anecdotes about how I came to watch the movie, or maybe some thoughts on my pre-conceived notions of the film, or sometimes just a totally random and pointless aside about a ham sandwich I particularly enjoyed. In Stage Fright’s case, I have a few! Which is a good thing; I don’t have much to say about the movie itself.

About a hundred years ago or so, or maybe just six, I took part in the production of a short film that was designed as an homage to Stage Fright. My good friend Joe Canistro was the writer/director, and another good Joe, Pasciscia, was the DP. I forget what exactly my job was, probably editor. I just remember hanging around the set (Joe’s house) and yammering on about movies. And one night a few of us went to see Ghosts Of Mars, aka the worst Carpenter movie ever. That’s the sum total of my memories of that entire summer actually. I was drinking a lot.

Sadly, the film was never completed. I forget if everything was filmed or not, but the dude with all the footage has yet to give it to anyone (i.e. me) to edit, despite repeated promises for the past 98 (five) years or so. Oh well.

Now, during the production of this unseen masterpiece, I borrowed the real film from Joe, on a format known as VHS. A VHS tape was a giant black brick that you put inside an equally giant machine, where it would proceed to eat the damn thing, though occasionally it would not, allowing you to watch a film. Each time you watched it, the quality would degrade. Why we didn’t just use DVDs, I don’t know. But all I know is, that tape is still sitting, unwatched, in my room (and I’ve moved like 3 times since then). Look Joe, if you’re reading this: at this point it’s safe to say that you’re not getting it back. Sorry.

But I watch… yeah yeah yeah. Anyway, I had it in my queue on Netflix for awhile, but it was always “short wait” or whatever. It finally came a few weeks ago, but the disc inside was some noir film from the 50s that had the same name. I’m sure it’s a good film in its own right, but goddammit, when I rent an Italian giallo, I want an Italian giallo! Or a porn.

So I had to send it back and wait AGAIN for it to arrive. Which it finally did today, and I figured I owed it to myself, Netflix, and certainly Joe, to watch it ASAP. Did it live up to 6 years of half-assed interest?? Yes! While not a bad film by any means, it was just very by the numbers for the most part. Granted, it came before some of the films it reminded me of (particularly Opera) but that’s neither here nor there.

The killer’s getup is pretty amazing – regular shirt and pants, GIANT OWL HEAD. Watching him run around with a chainsaw near the end is possibly one of the most terrifying images I’ve seen all week, especially if you look at it as a metaphor for all the deforestation action, which of course it is not, in any way, shape or form.

Giovanni Lombardo Radice (misspelled in the credits as John Morghen) plays a flamboyant man named Brett. NON-SPOILER: Radice gets killed. Shocking. You know, I’d like to see a film where Radice faces off against Lance Henriksen, another actor who has never seen the end credits of a film in which he appeared. It would be the most suspenseful scene in film history.

The music in the film is fantastic, the main theme sounds like Jim Steinman’s song "Nowhere Fast" (from Streets of Fire, the finest Michael ParĂ© film of all time, with the added bonus of Diane Lane in her prime) mixed with Hall and Oates’ "Maneater". I know I said “fantastic” when any logical person would declare that that sounds awful, but you gotta trust me. Also, the play that the people are putting on is vastly more entertaining than the film itself. The story, such as it is, is apparently about a guy in an owl mask who rapes and kills singing hookers. I would pay upwards of 12 dollars to see some bright spark actually turn this play within a movie into a real play. Christ, I saw a stage production of Donnie Darko once, it would at least be better than that.

(Seriously, Donnie Darko: The Play. It was in a basement in Cambridge, MA. “Hey, let’s make a no budget play based on a shitty movie with a lot of effects!” Genius. Why not turn Star Wars into a one-woman show while you’re at it?)

Anyway, in short; though the actual movie is nothing special, it’s got some great superfluous stuff, and follows the fine Italian tradition of skeletonless characters, so: recommended.

What say you?


  1. donnie darko a shitty movie? i can think of a lot worse.

  2. I love both Stage Frights you mentioned. Is it Joe P you're refering to having burrowed the movie from, or me?

    If it's him, don't worry. He has 2 of mine from way back when. I think the circle of life is complete.

    Seriously though, I have such little drive to make good movies. I just like to have a good time. Still, I'd like to see this turkey completed.

  3. I believe SF is your copy. I also have Pasciscia's Wild at Heart. So the circle of life is complete, with padding made of squares...

  4. I thought I was the only horror geek who thought Donnie Darko it´s an awful over rated movie! Thanks , man!

    And by the way, they DID a one man show of star wars, don´t you remember the pepsi comercial about Episode 1 with that alien boy and the pepsi cans?

  5. Hahaha no! Is it on youtube or something? That sounds delightfully odd.


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