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3.5 stars. Beware the Murder-Bird
on October 30, 2004
This is a cool slasher movie, though not quite as good as I'd hoped/anticipated. It's pretty stylish, and quite tense a lot of the time, but it takes a while to get going, and the stuff the occurs before the killing starts is pretty weak. Even after the killing starts things don't really take off until Cupisiti's the only one left. The killing of the other cast members is pretty good, but generally far from extraordinary. Still it's worth a look.
There ain't a whole lotta plot to this, and virtually no character development.(Let's see here, the director is a jerk, Radice is an over-the-top gay stereotype and.... well that's it. Everyone else is a faceless victim) Anyway the premise is that a killer, donning a big owl mask, gets loose at a light-night rehearsal for a musical. They become trapped in the building when the key is lost, and the only person who knows where it is has been murdered, and they then have to fight for survival. Despite the lack of plot, it takes a while to get going, as the characters pretty much just stand around and talk or complain about nothing in particular, or rehearse their fruity musical. But what can I say, the plot in a slasher movie is usually non-existant, and they're usually pretty boring until the killing starts. So none of that matters all that much.
Once the killer arrives, it doesn't take long for him to polish everyone off except the protagonist, played by Barbara Cupisiti.(And can't remember the characters name, so I'll just refer to the actress) The killings come so fast that they don't build that much suspense, but they are pretty gory. Though the fx tends to be mediocre to lousy, this movie still scores pretty well on the goremeter. We got a pick-axe through the mouth, some stabbing, some chainsawing, drill impalation, an axe decap and a chick gets ripped in half. The more effective kills, however, are actually some of the less gruesome ones. One of the best ones involves a stabbing during a rehearsal of the play. Naturally, the killer is mistaken for an actor in the play, and proceeds to stab the victim in front of everyone. It cuts between shots of the killer attacking her and close-ups of each of the witnesses faces, showing their confusion and horror. It's a very nicely done scene. Even better is a scene late in the movie, as 2 potential victims hide in a room, one of them injured, which allows the killer to find them. As he holds the injured one up against the wall, about to stab her, the victim sees Barbara across the room, hiding. They just stare at each other for a moment, horrified, before he stabs her, neither of them able to do anything to prevent it. It's a bizarrely powerful moment, and evokes a genuine sense of hopelessness.
As I said before, things really get good when Barbara and the killer are the only ones left. It's genuinely tense, and Soavi's visual style shines through, with great, steady camerawork, and a brightly colored and oddly light stage providing a surreal and eerie setting. The much famed scene of the killer hanging around on the stage with his victims is a cool as advertised. It ends with him sitting down and stroking a cat rather contentedly, with his various victims lying all about him, and a fan blowing feathers around the stage. It's truly an odd image, and it really has little to do with anything, but I think it's very cool. The following scene, as Barbara sneaks underneath the stage which contains the aforementioned nightmare image is also quite effective, and very suspenseful. Sadly, this film insists on their being some false climaxes, and, as usual, the latter climaxes tend to be worse than the earlier ones. But this doesn't detract to much, in the end, and is pretty much part of the territory.
I must mention that I rather like the killer's having an Owl head. It seemed like a bad idea to me, but I think it's actually pretty creepy in the movie. It's just such and odd thing, I dunno why it just works. Also, the score is pretty hit and miss. It's your standard Goblin rip-offf, and lots of it is just annoying, particularly the loud synth roar that they use repeatedly. Once again, the music in the latter part of the film tends to be more effective than the earlier stuff.
Yeah, I like this movie. Not great, but entertaining enough if you're into this sorta thing.