REVIEWS | STAGE FRIGHT – April 2014 (Read here)


STAGE FRIGHT: A Genre Melting Horror Musical That You Won’t Forget
By Chad Armstrong

April 9, 2014

Unique /yo͞oˈnēk/ -being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else…

That definition should have a picture of the Stage Fright poster next to it. Unique isn’t a word we normally use to describe a horror film these days, which is depressing. But Stage Fright is certainly just that.

Horror fans think “musical” and a little vomit creeps up the back of their throats, I’m a horror fan, so I know first hand. Musicals are not my type of thing. I’d rather be strung up by my toenails, sawed almost in half and let rats chew on my insides as I watch, before being submitted to a musical. So when I heard about Stage Fright, a little vomit started bubbling at the bottom of my esophagus, but didn’t come all the way up, because it was a HORROR musical.

Written and Directed by Jerome Sable and starring Meat Loaf, Minnie Driver, and Allie MacDonald, Stage Fright follows the story of Camilla, who’s mother was killed ten years ago, backstage after a leading performance in a musical titled The Haunting Of The Opera. Now grown up she is a cook, along with her brother, at a theatre camp. This years production, The Haunting Of The Opera. Camilla wanting to make her mother proud, tries out for the lead role. But as the production starts rolling a masked figure shows up and starts killing off the performers.

I thought I would never say this in a million years about any musical, this film is just plan brilliant! You think horror musical, where the kills will be subtle, off screen to make room for the happy songs and dances… NOPE! The opening scene grabs you by the throat and pulls you in with all it’s force with the first, brutal, gory, kill.

The musical numbers by the killer, singing hatefully in a growling voice over the happy song the campers are singing in the next room, is just spectacular and really sets a tone to the many contrasts this film has. Sable brilliantly utilizes the musical numbers as a backdrop to the film and doubles it as it’s soundtrack. While characters are performing the songs, the killer is going to town on an unlucky victim and it blends perfectly.

The cast is wonderful, Allie MacDonald just lightens up the screen when we first meet her character but towards the end the dark anguished, frightened Camilla seeps out. Minnie Driver is beautiful as ever and has a great performance as Camilla’s mother. The stand out performance here is certainly Meat Loaf. Meat Loaf is spectacular and THIS IS certainly the best performance of his career. He owns his character, not for one second do you believe he is acting, the intensity he brings to the role is overwhelming.

If you are planning on skipping this one because it’s a “musical”, don’t be stupid, catch this one or I promise you’ll regret it.

Stage Fright is available on demand now (ed. in the US only) and in theatre’s May 9th from Magnet Releasing (USA) and Entertainment One Films (Canada).



Glee gone gore ‘Stage Fright’ movie review
By Travis Brown

April 15, 2014

Certain films stand the test of time due to the characters presented in the film, a crowd participation type theme that may be installed, or the fact that it’s just a damn good movie. In Stage Fright we find all these and then some that will surely make this film sit right along the side of insane horror midnight romps like Rocky Horror Picture Show or Little Shop of Horrors. Stage Fright is the Rocky Horror for slasher fans. As it also pays homage to the great whodunit italian style slashers that became popular here in the states during the 80’s and 90’s.

The film follows the story of a musical theater camp where the kids can be themselves whether gay or not (meaning happy and the other definition). The founder of the camp is former broadway producer Roger McCall (Meatloaf) and he looks to resurrect one of the greatest musicals of our time The Haunting of The Opera (you may know it as the Phantom of The Opera.) A long time ago it’s star Kylie Swanson (Minnie Driver) was brutally murdered on opening night. Now her daughter and son Camellia (Allie MacDonald) and Buddy (Douglas Smith) work at the camp. Buddy want nothing to do with the theater snobs but Camellia sees this as a chance to follow in her mothers footsteps and become a singer on broadway. Unfortunately those requests come with some dire results.

Stage Fright may be one of them most entertaining films of the year but if you have issues with musicals it may not be for you. What it will do is what South Park The Movie did sometime ago by drawing in fans who normally would want nothing to do with singing. The diabolical nature of the killings will be refreshing to all as it truly is in the spirit of the early slashers we all love. It was very surprising to see the brutality on screen as many times throughout the film you would swear you are watching an episode of Glee. I’m sure many fans of that show will at least give Stage Fright a chance and if they can hang with the ferociousness of the gore it will serve them well.

Stage Fright has a Grease feel to it as well as each of the characters stand out in their own way. It’s a reason we can see this doing well for some time as there characters that anyone would love to enjoy or hate. Unlike Rocky Horror, or Repo The Genetic Opera, Stage Frights roots are from the slasher genre so there is nothing weird to see her just some awesome kills. The acting outside of the singing is substantial but you will find many things to like about all involved. You can tell this film was a blast to make as that feeling comes across through the entire film.

For those familiar with Jerome Sable’s previous work (Legend of Beaver Dam) they knew Stage Fright had a chance to be great. While obviously more commercial than that release Stage Fright is a true testament to his unique blending of music and horror cinema. He does have a segment in the upcoming ABCs of Death 2 so we should see his unique style again very soon. Stage Fright is one of those films horror fans will talk about for years to come so make sure to check it out when you get the chance!

Stage Fright is directed by Jerome Sable and stars Minnie Driver, Meatloaf, and Allie MacDonald. It is now available on demand and via iTunes (ed. in the US only) and hits select theaters May 9th (in the US and Canada). Stage Fright is being released courtesy of Magnet Releasing (USA) and Entertainment One Films (Canada).



By Matt Molgaard

April 17, 2014

Over the last few decades I’ve been impressed by very few musicals. Well, very few horror musicals, in particular. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Little Shop of Horrors, REPO! The Genetic Opera and The Devil’s Carnival rank among the strongest on the market. Each of the aforementioned films do two things right: they leave enough room in the production for an actual story (REPO! feels a tad murky at times, I’ll admit) to be told without the aid of forceful song sequences, and they place enough emphasis on the actual song writing to make a number of tunes memorable. It’s about the balance of things, and if you miss the mark in either category, your film certainly stands to suffer some noticeable flaws. But there are other intangibles of film – again, horror musicals specifically – that can alter the mood of a feature in extremely positive, or extremely negative ways. Atmosphere is crucial (something The Little Shop of Horrors succeeds in creating seamlessly, despite it’s somewhat basic execution), as are the pure aesthetics (where pics like The Devil’s Carnival flourish) of the film. But that’s not to say that every piece has to be profoundly grandiose or moving, it’s just to say that all of the pieces have to fit together. An overtly comedic piece has to play faithful to its tone, just as an extremely grim piece does. No matter the vibe, the film has to feel cohesive and fully dedicated in its mission.

Stage Fright is a piece that leans in the direction of comedy, but never once shies away from graphic violence and detailed gore. It also does something that I think many directors who choose to shoot horror musicals fear: it showcases, with pride, every trope associated with this malnourished subgenre as well as the ultra-cliché slasher subgenre. But the glee showcased while toying with the familiar is quite detectable, and writer/director Jerome Sable is more than overjoyed to slip in the occasional camera wink. It isn’t missed, and it isn’t uninvited in any way. In fact, it’s fucking brilliant. Sable is a savvy, savvy filmmaker with an ear to the ground, a strong knowledge of pop culture and a promising career to boot. He constantly pokes fun at elitist or overused ideology and it works in summoning more than a single guffaw – not a mere chuckle, mind you, but true outbursts of laughter.

But there’s another big element of the pic that resonates: it is in-your-face violent and bloody as all hell. There is no compassion spent for the faint of heart, and Jerome lets us know that inside of five minutes, when one of the feature’s marquee names is slain in grisly, graphic detail. If Sable’s intention was to hook the viewer and let them know something unique wait just around the bend, holy shit did he ever succeed. Blades, power tools, light bulbs – you name it, if it’s potentially hazardous, it’s a weapon used to commit merciless murder in this gloriously gory (there’s a certain leg scene I’d love to speak on, but you’ve got to see it rather than read about it) flick.

And even beyond the mood of the film, or the loyalty to horror fans who know their movies inside and out, or the buckets of blood, there’re a few damn cool twists in this tale of murderous slasher revenge. And that’s really all it is, a slasher with some catchy and raunchy tunes; Sable kept things formulaic, but refined his every move along the way, and actually manages to deliver one final twist that does indeed surprise. I won’t pretend that the masked murderer offing kids at a performing arts camp is original in any way (okay, maybe the whole performing arts camp thing deserves some respect), but I will say this, he’s got enough red herrings flying about the production to keep the intrigue level high, and the mechanics of storytelling moving very, very fluidly, from start to finish.

Stage Fright was something of a mystery to me prior to this morning. I knew it was a musical. I knew Sable had put together a number of noteworthy shorts. I also knew the buzz surrounding the film only continues to grow. What I didn’t know was that I’d get an outlandishly humorous, hyper gory picture that proves the standard trope can be built upon, modified and made entirely refreshing. I also failed to predict the quality I’d take in from the cast as a whole. Minnie Driver (a longtime screen crush of mine), Meat Loaf, Allie MacDonald, Ephraim Ellis and Douglas Smith (really fuckin’ awesome seeing this kid in another genre piece) all turn in excellent work. As a whole, the film totally and completely works. In fact, thus far it’s one of the best films of 2014, and vies for a spot as my favorite horror musical to ever see release, rivalled only by The Rocky Horror Picture Show. An absolute blast, and a true must-see flick, Stage Fright might be the most entertaining horror musical in history.



By Chris Coffel

April 21, 2014

Year: 2014
Director: Jerome Sable
Writer: Jerome Sable, Eli Batalion
Starring: Allie MacDonald, Kent Nolan, Brandon Uranowitz, Douglas Smith, Ephraim Ellis, Meat Loaf, Minnie Driver

Horror musicals don’t come around very often so when one does it usually stands out like a severed head. Whether or not the movie actually ends up being good is a different story all together, but it’s certainly going to catch the attention of a few folks. I’m pleased to say the new horror/comedy musical STAGE FIGHT from director Jerome Sable is quite good.

A musical theater camp ran by failed Broadway producer Roger McCall (Meat Loaf) is under attack from a menacing killer who can’t stand musical theater. (It should be pointed out that the killer’s distaste for the musical arts does not stop him from being a willing participant in them.) It’s been ten years since McCall’s production of “Haunting of the Opera” was shut down on Broadway due to the murder of the show’s star, Kylie Swanson, Minnie Driver in a nice cameo.
McCall is ready to give the show a go once more, this time at the summer camp and with Kylie’s daughter, Camilla (Allie MacDonald), playing the lead.

At the core, STAGE FRIGHT is basically a horror/comedy version of “The Phantom of the Opera.” Try and imagine if Andrew Lloyd Webber was actually Andrew Lloyd Webber as performed by Paul F. Tompkins. I feel like PFT’s ALW would create something very much like STAGE FRIGHT. STAGE FRIGHT borrows from more than just the “Phantom,” however. It takes a few things from Dario Argento’s OPERA and it has quite a few references to horror classics, my personal favorite being a great nod to the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. I’m sure there are even a handful of musical references in there that I missed as well. Because the film does borrow from so many different things the overall material isn’t the most original, but it is delivered in a very fun and original way. STAGE FRIGHT doesn’t take itself too seriously which really adds to the overall fun of the movie. It’s very much over-the-top at times with blood spraying everywhere. I wouldn’t really say it’s campy, but there is a certain John Waters-esque feel to the movie, especially in the musical numbers.

The music is really the key to making a horror/comedy musical work and Sable and co-writer Eli Batalion truly nailed it. The songs all manage to be good songs while still being funny and helping to move the story along. The songs performed by the killer are really fantastic 80’s power ballad, high pitched metal tunes that would really make Eddie and the boys of Iron Maiden proud. There’s not a bad performance in the bunch. The cast really did a terrific job with lead Allie MacDonald really stealing the show. I would not be the least bit shocked to start seeing her pop up in all kinds of things. Then there’s of course Meat Loaf who is seemingly made for these types of movies.

STAGE FRIGHT is part “Phantom of the Opera,” part Argento’s OPERA, part John Waters and a whole lot of freaking awesome. It truly is one of the most fun films I’ve seen in quite some time and I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to watch it over and over and over and over again.

STAGE FRIGHT is currently available on VOD (ed. US only) from Magnet Releasing with a limited theatrical release set for May 9 (in the US and Canada).



Stage Fright – Horror Film Follies
By Scott Dodson

April 24, 2014

I was in my high school musicals.

There.  I said it.

The greenfaced, scary looking, horror film loving ogre known as Trapjaw was not just in one musical….but 3!  And guess what?  I had a pretty good time in them as well.  While the stage is quite serious, the backstage area is pretty much playing cards, getting into trouble, and learning how to interact with the fairer sex.  We had a blast pretty much every year.  It was fun.

Yes, there were those that took it too seriously.  There were those that could only talk script.  There were some oddball characters, but those oddballs could act or sing like nobody’s business.  Chaperons were non existent and trouble was never far away.

Imagine my surprise that the film Stage Fright never really captures what it’s like to be in a musical, but turns out to be an interesting horror film nonetheless.  The story is an amalgamation of multiple movies and genres, and it jumps around to each quite nicely.  The actors are good, and the killer sings heavy metal music.

Stage Fright is a horror musical that focuses on the making of a musical.  8 year old Camilla (Allie MacDonald) is just setting her sights on one day following her Prima Donna mother Kylie Swanson (Minnie Driver) into theater life when  Kylie is slain after opening night of The Haunting of the Opera.  Camilla and her twin brother (Buddy, played by Douglas Smith) are then raised by the producer of the show (Meat Loaf).

The film fast forwards 10 years, and producer Roger (Meat Loaf) has fallen on hard times.  He’s opened up a musical summer camp, and those (that just don’t quite fit in) flock to it each summer.  Camilla and Buddy work as kitchen staff.   Director Artie Getz (Brandon Uranowitz) announces this summer’s production will be A Haunting of the Opera, and this effects Buddy and Camilla differently.  While Buddy is shaken, Camilla feels drawn toward the stage to reprise her mother’s final role.

While Black Swan investigated the stress that performers put upon themselves through the lens of a horror film, Stage Fright places those kids from High School Musical into a horror film to be tormented by an external force.   It’s reminiscent of that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where a musical demon enchants everybody into musical numbers for the entire episode.  The idea is great, and is quite fun.  In fact, it’s like looking into infinity mirror.  There are musicals inside musicals and held together by jazz hands.  I sang my way to the bathroom at one point and wondered if I was the last in the chain, or if I was just a part of another musical.

The film tends to be a bit self deprecating to its cast (who fit their stereotypical roles here nicely). From there, it takes quite a few twists that reminded me of many other films.  First of all, Camilla’s character arc is quite similar to Angela’s in Sleepaway Camp and Aerial’s in The Little Mermaid.  Artie runs the camp production much like the Hollywood portrayed in Mulholland Drive.  Ultimately, there is a creepy Hitchcock-ian story in there which was (brief, but) interesting that could have been fleshed out more.  And, of course, we have a slasher film with a masked villain.killer

The killer in Stage Fright looks like the puppet from Saw climbed off his tricycle and started singing heavy metal (and not just any heavy metal…but 1970s heavy metal!).  His weapon of choice is quite ingenious actually, and there are times that the singing works…and other times it doesn’t.  There’s not many times that you get to see masked killers that speak (let alone sing), and there is a reason:  It can come off goofy very easily.  I liked the idea, but the execution left him feeling like a villain on Buffy.  It’s not bad.  It just doesn’t illicit nightmares.

Stage Fright is a pretty good film: It’s fun, and it’s an easy watch.  I enjoyed the film immensely.   I liked the cast a lot, and felt they did a great job with it.  It has a few original ideas that it plays with, but, ultimately, it feels like a horror film folly.  There’s a lot of flash, there are some fun jokes, and it’s hard not to have a hard time.  It is definitely worth a look, and is a great date movie.