As you can tell from looking at my blog, horror musicals are kind of my guilty pleasure. Evil Dead, Carrie, Re-animator and even Little Shop of Horrors are all classic horror movies that have clawed their way onto the stage as musicals and into my heart. Slasher-musicals may sound ridiculous to most theater people but to a horror fan they are a delicious treat. I consider myself a huge horror fan and I have some theater background as well. I don’t really care for mainstream theater like Rent, Mamma Mia, Wicked and West Side Story, I only like shows that have been adapted from movies I already love.
One morning, to my surprise, I stumbled upon a trailer for a new movie called “Stage Fright”. My first thought was “oh someone decided to remake the 1987 movie called Stage Fright”. This wasn’t a remake, it was an entirely different movie with an entirely new concept that I was absolutely enthralled over, it was a half broadway musical half slasher movie hybrid. I knew about the movie Repo! The Genetic Opera and I wasn’t much of a fan, Stage Fright, however, looked different. The trailer showed a bunch of kids in a stereotypical camp-slasher scenario being comedically attacked by a Phantom of the Opera knock off, while singing and dancing, yeah it’s totally ridiculous. The film also featured the singer Meatloaf, who played Eddie in Rocky Horror (my all time favorite movie) and appeared in an episode of Tales from the Crypt. Meatloaf, that was a good enough reason for me to see this movie.
My expectations were pretty medium for this film. I was basically expecting to see a movie musical version of Friday the 13th, where the music was incorporated with the plot. I wanted to see a movie with characters singing while being chased by a psycho, instead I got to see a slightly darker version of Glee. Rather than go out of my way to see this movie in theaters, I rented it for $6.99 on Amazon Prime. Within in the first five minutes of the movie I knew what I was in for and it wasn’t pleasant. The movie opens up with a caption stating that it was based on a true story, highly doubtful, then it cuts to a woman standing on a stage dressed like Christine Dae singing some Phantom of The Opera knock off song. The woman gets an applause, goes off stage to greet her kids, Camilla and Buddy, then the kids leave and the woman gets stabbed by the Phantom of The Opera, oops I mean “Opera Ghost”. Flash-forward 10 years into the future the two kids from before are now working in the kitchen of a theater camp under the guardianship of their mom’s lover, Meatloaf! Camilla (Played by an Emily Browning look a like) desperately wants to be a show queen but alas she is not permitted to live amongst the other theater kids, so she must remain in the kitchen, awkward.
The campers arrive bursting into a huge flamboyant musical number entitled “We’re here, we’re here!” proclaiming their love for musical theater. This number honestly makes the song “Keep it Gay” from The Produces look as heterosexual as Sylvester Stallone. Most of the songs in Stage Fright are not even worthy enough to be featured in an ABC family made for tv musical. It’s like High School Musical was overdosing on super theater steroids. I was terrified watching these musical sequences because they brought back memories of when I was involved in a production of Once Upon a Mattress and when I took part in my high schools productions of Legally Blonde and How to Succeed in Business. The campers were exactly like those overly dramatic theater kids I had worked with. I nearly lost it when all the campers started singing “We’re gay, we’re gay, but not in that way!” because of how accurate it was in its portrayal of drama geeks.
Unfortunately Stage Fright focuses too much on the musical aspects of the film and forgets that it is also a horror movie. Instead it just turns into a musical that just happens to have a tiny bit of horror mixed into its plot. There is no “fright” in this movie, only “stage” and a huge number of flaws and predictability. After the opening scene, nothing scary actually happens for another forty-five or something minutes. The killer makes a brief appearance after Meatloaf announces the camp musical, The Haunting of the Opera. The killer is show having an incoherent scream fit probably vowing to stop this musical. Who could this dastardly Broadway hating killer be?
A. Camilla, the girl who wants to be the star of the performance.
B. Meatloaf, the camp director who needs the production in order to keep his camp running.
C. Buddy, who hates all theater kids.
Those are the only three people who would be relevant to the opening scene. It takes more brainpower to solve a Scooby Doo mystery than it does to figure out Stage Fright’s predictable plot.
The camera work and design of this movie is absolutely appalling with the quality of a c-movie slasher such as Troll 2. The fake blood looked like crayola paint, Camp Slaughter had more realistic kills than this movie did. Nothing works in this film, the horror aspects of the film are upstaged by crappy broadway ripoff musical numbers, the plots is far too predictable and the special effects are sub-par. There is no way to enjoy this film unless you have been doped up after having your wisdom teeth removed. If you must watch this movie, I suggest waiting until it becomes available in a Wal-Mart 90% off discount bin or your local library.
Overall I give Stage Fright a generous rating of: ★★☆☆☆(2 stars)