This late 80s slasher film probably came a little too late to gain the attention that it deserved. By the mid 80s people were starting to get fed up with these typical slasher flicks, and at first impression, this movie is just that.
The film starts off on the same foot that Halloween (part 1 & 4) did. One dark and stormy night a lunatic escapes from an insane asylum, and goes back to the place where he committed a massacre years ago: a theater. He then proceeds to hide out in the theater, quickly claims a very distinct outfit (an owl mask), and waits for more actors to come along so he can repeat his previous works on them. Lo and behold, an acting crew comes in the next night and they get locked in with our, almost supernaturally powered, psychopath and he proceeds to butcher them!
However, that is where this film stops treading down the well-paved path. In the Halloween movies they do a good amount of character building, Michael Myers takes his time and stalks his prey around for a while, only striking when the time is right. Therefore, by the time they are knocked off, we usually know the victims quite well. There is a certain depth to that. Though this killer has a presence similar to Michael Myers, he is a far more rabid version of him! When it comes to patience he is more along the lines of Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th part 8.
In most cases, putting together a film that is primarily focused on killings every few minutes, means that you will end up sacrificing character development and suspense, and then the viewers have it easier looking at the murders in an impersonal and indifferent way. That is not the case here; the movie does not try to convince you to learn about the characters, to like them, to respect them, or even to hate them. You probably would not even have time for any of that, since most of the characters don’t live long enough. Yet, somehow the movie still manages to make all of the brutal murders seem too close for comfort. In that sense this movie is a very rare, artistic species.
Deliria not only measures up to the expectations for suspense and gore that most slasher fans look for in their flicks, it exceeds them! Though the environment is often very dark, it is definitely not because the production crew wanted to use that as a curtain to go cheap on the gore behind. You will see brutal decapitations, impalements, people being chain sawed in half, axes being slammed into mouths, and a large multitude of weapons being used. Basically, the killer is a busy boy, and goes about his work very quickly and with extreme versatility and you will get to watch!
The mistake most slasher flicks make is to assume that just because they have a good amount of gore they can go ahead and ignore suspense. This movie keeps the suspense popping; in fact, I recall it won some awards ranking it as the scariest movie released that year.
The only cons that I can think of is that, like I already said, the movie is very dark and people are not always in the mood for something dark. Another con is that this movie does not give you anything to think about, not that that is a common thing amongst slasher flicks, but you will almost downright not want to remember details or twirl this one around in your head by the end. I am going to use this moment to say that this movie is not for the weak hearted.
All in all, you would expect that with those kinds of credentials you would have a well-known movie, this is not so as of yet. Hopefully that changes, because this is a very well put together piece of work. I recommend you check this one out on a dark and stormy night. It’ll make for good watching.
An important side note: Make sure to try to locate the film under its alternate title: Stage Fright (confirm that the date is 1989 or you may have the wrong one) because when I located it at the local video stores it was not under the name of Deliria.