Winning my award for “Most Badass 2014 SXSW Midnighters Feature” was a horror musical that took me by complete surprise, blending operatic theatrics and bitchin’ 80s hair metal for a gloriously gory chorus of terror. Stage Fright, created by Jerome Sable and Co-Composer Eli Batalion, is an exquisite throwback to a greater era of horror, but the boys who brought you The Legend Of Beaver Dam also inject a humorous bite worthy of both laughs and screams. I mean, who doesn’t love a sing-along boasting a body count? Wait – don’t answer that. Just let me keep thinking I’m normal.
Drawing comparisons such as “Glee meets Sleepaway Camp” and “The Phantom Of The Opera meets Scream,” I like to think Stage Fright finds a unique, witty blend that goes beyond Glee‘s overly-dramatic sarcasm. Coming out guns blazing, Sable and Batalion hit fans right away with a self-deprecating song about theater nerds that doesn’t shy away from any stereotype, and while some might find such humor cheap and easy, audiences immediately understand the satirical nature these vivacious creators set out to achieve. Levels of consistent humor never let up as a slasher villain haunts a doomed performance of “The Haunting Of The Opera,” ripe with the same infectious energy Sable and Batalion displayed during my interview with the two.
Introduced just as quickly are heavy doses of oozing, gushing gore, establishing an insane level of brutal special effects that compliment immensely talented musical compositions brought alive by horrific slayings. Stage Fright out-gores so many mainstream duds gifted with infinitely larger budgets, exuding nothing but a serious appreciation for genre classics like Carrie, Hellraiser, and so many more through munchable little nuggets of joy.
Sable shows a tremendous amount of respect and understanding when catering to more outlandish horror fans, but an effort is made to ensure music lovers aren’t turned off by a metal-loving killer tearing campers to shreds. Stage Fright is sick, twisted, gleeful fun, which you’ll understand just by listening to the end credits background song that crafted especially for those still watching. Pure, detail-oriented gold.
Ever since Texas and SXSW, I’ve been a huge supporter of Stage Fright, and after a second, equally zany viewing, I can guarantee I’ll be shredding Slash-like licks from a blood-soaked mountaintop for all to hear – the unofficial Bat-Signal of horror musical lovers everywhere. If you want my full, in-depth reaction to Sable’s cult winner, check out my official review from SXSW – or read this bodacious blurb:
Stage Fright rocks hard, sings proud, and leaves audiences begging for a wild, bloody encore.
Getting to the Blu-Ray goodies, I implore you to crank up any surround sound devices worthy of blasting some ridiculous guitar riffage and the voice of master impersonator Rick Miller. Essentially mixing the voice of numerous rock legends, our metal murderer’s musical interludes constantly steal any classical theater thunder, but a young cast of ridiculously talented musicians give their tormentor a run for his money – so make sure you’ve got the proper audio equipment to handle such boisterous entertainment. Oh, and don’t skimp on the 1080P High Def picture quality, because true horror fans want their red mists of blood in the crispest, clearest quality. Stage Fright delivers – just make sure you can handle the output.
As for the Special Features, he’s what Stage Fright is rocking out:
- The Making Of Stage Fright
- Deleted Scenes
- In Memory Of A Fallen Camper
- The Evolution Of The Set Design
- Stage Fright Sing Along
- Interview With Jerome Sable And Co-Composer Eli Batalion
- AXS TV: A Look At Stage Fright
There are some interesting tidbits to be found hidden amongst the typical Blu-Ray bonus material schlock. Take for instance “In Memory Of A Fallen Camper,” a sweet tribute to Steffi DiDomenicantonio’s character Bethany, a camper obsessed with Liza Minnelli who got left on the cutting room floor. Also, for those theater geeks who want to join the fun, each musical number is listed in Sing-Along form for you to belt out when no one is listening. “The Show Must Carry On” is my favorite, because who doesn’t want to sing along with Meatloaf while the killer’s head bounces off the lyrics? The rest can be described as a few looks at production with the curtain drawn for all to see, a general commentary, and some deleted scenes that don’t add much value, but Stage Fright does have some fun giving fans a few extra notables to play around with.
Listen, I may be partial because I’m quoted on the box art, but I think everyone should own a Blu-Ray copy of Stage Fright. Nothing makes me happier than promoting a movie that fully deserves the praise, and so far Stage Fright exists as my favorite promotion yet. There’s something about a horror musical completely self aware of its own absurdity that makes me smile uncontrollably, especially when singing teens are drowned out by a screeching, squealing murderer with nasty guitar skills. Stage Fright is a celebration of everything kooky, wacky and exploitable, showcasing a unique versatility that makes horror so invaluable. Rock on Jerome Sable and Eli Batalion – horror needs more renegade mavericks like you two crazy, brilliant bastards.
Stage Fright is a cult classic horror musical made for a certain audience, and while others may hate on this strange hybrid, I'm just sitting here screaming "ENCORE!"