Soavi has had the rare pleasure in not only working with some of the horror greats, including Brava and Argento, but was given the opportunity to be essentially tutored by them as they worked. As a result, and several co-director spots later, Soavi goes it alone to produce a slasher movie, which although reasonably generic, does express some flare from both the directors mentioned above.
Stage fright, as you may have guessed is about the stalking and killing of a group of actors who, as fate would have it, get locked in their theatre with a serial killer whose modus operands just happens to be 'going mental in the theatre!'; hence why he was in the mental asylum next to the the theatre in the first place. As you can guess by my sarcasm that I was not really blown away by the plot, and some little 'convenient' additions to the story (such as the fact above) does invite some criticism as it is a little far fetched even for a slasher move.
The acting too is a little rough around the edges, and granted whilst the script wasn't fantastic I still think they could have done a little better with what they had. Not all the cast was terrible, but in all honesty I couldn't wait for a few of them to die. For the first half an hour not a lot happened, and whilst there is some attempt at building atmosphere though the eerie synthesizer and 'Goblin' style psychedelia, the pace does drag a bit.
Thankfully the movie does pick up around halfway through, and to give credit where it is due, it improves a lot. The gore in this movie is brutal and, whilst not up to Fulci's quantities, it certainly makes an impact. Once the killer gets going he uses a range of 'tools' including a drill, knife and chainsaw to get the job done. The killers appearance is definitely a plus, and whilst it sounds a little stupid that he should be dressed all in black with a giant owls head on, the actual effect of it is quite unnerving, as with his face obscured, his movements appear quite emotionless. The gore is shown is all its glory with some pretty good effects when you consider the age of the movie. There are no guts strewn about the place, but the kill scenes are very brutal and simplistic, reminiscent of 'Blade in the Dark' from this perspective.
Overall there is very little more to say. I don't need to tell you that Soavi went on to deliver better, 'Cemetery Man' is a classic and this is far shy of that, but its not a complete write off. Sure the acting is pretty crap, and despite an 86 minute run time the film did seem to go on a bit, but the gore does make the movie stand out a little, especially from other 'Vipco' releases on which the film is currently available. Its a run of the mill Italian slasher, if you like that sort of thing then I doubt you will hate this movie, but for mainstream fans, stay away.