Stage Fright Is a Horror-Musical Hybrid That Feels Like Off-Brand Troma


Nothing else in Stage Fright, a horror-musical hybrid that plays like a sleepy, off-brand Troma movie, is as good as Meat Loaf.

A walrus-mustachioed Loaf plays Roger McCall, the skeevy owner of Center Stage, a summer camp for young musical theater performers. To generate the ticket sales that will pay his mounting bills, Roger pressures teenage singer Camilla Swanson (Allie MacDonald) to play the female lead in Haunting of the Opera, a role Camilla’s mother originated and was murdered while performing.

Roger’s only a supporting character, but Meat Loaf’s total commitment to lyrics as goofy as “And when the terrorists get suicidal/We’ll be just fine because we have our own Bible” is far and away the highlight of a musical that’s torn between snarky humor and a sincere love for both slasher films and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. First, a little girl swooningly chirps that “all of life’s a song to sing/So sing with your all heart.” Then a cartoonishly flamboyant teen sings about being “gay” for musicals and men: “I’m gay/I’m gay/I’m actually gay/I don’t get hard when I see T&A.”

Not long after that, an ostensibly adorable camper with a pronounced lisp wields a circular saw over her head like Leatherface at the end of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Stage Fright‘s lopsided tone wouldn’t be so confounding if the horror elements worked or if writer-director Jerome Sable’s music, co-composed with Eli Batalion, weren’t so forgettable. But there’s nothing lovable about a musical that leaves poor Meat Loaf to grasp lustily at low-hanging fruit.