5.9/10
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44 user 45 critic

Fade to Black (1980)

A shy, lonely film buff embarks on a killing spree against those who browbeat and betray him, all the while stalking his idol, a Marilyn Monroe lookalike.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
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Dr. Jerry Moriarty
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Officer Anne Oshenbull
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Marty Berger (as Normann Burton)
...
...
Gary Bially
James Luisi ...
Captain M.L. Gallagher
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Aunt Stella Binford (as Eve Brent Ashe)
John Steadman ...
Sam
...
Stacy
...
...
Joey
Hennen Chambers ...
Bart
...
Talk Show Hostess (as Melinda Fee)
Anita Converse ...
Dee Dee
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Storyline

Shy, lonely Eric Binford delivers film cassettes and film-related supplies in Los Angeles for a living. But he really exists only to watch movies and immense himself in fantasies about cinematic characters and stars. Frequently bullied and betrayed, Eric comforts himself by pretending to be one of the many tough heroes and villains who have captivated him from the silver screen. However, his sanity takes a turn for the worse and he launches grotesque murders all patterned after characters and incidents from his beloved movies. He becomes known as the Celluloid Killer, one of the most horrifying murderers the city has ever known. Written by matt-282

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The theater is dark. Eric's mind is darker. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

14 October 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

...kun valot sammuvat  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film about a psycho movie buff has lots of references to characters from movie history and the movies themselves. Of the latter, the following are referred to in this movie: Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954); Mark of the Vampire (1935); White Heat (1949); The Public Enemy (1931), Horror of Dracula (1958), Night of the Living Dead (1968); Kiss of Death (1947) and Halloween (1978). See more »

Goofs

As Moriarty and Officer Oshenbull are racing to stop Eric near the film's ending, their police car changes briefly from a 1975-78 Plymouth Fury to a 71-76 Chevrolet Impala, only to change back once they arrive to the scene. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Aunt Stella Binford: [cynical tone] Eric! Get up! Well, lookie here. Mister Smart Mouth fell asleep with his nose buried in the screen again! Your one-eyed monster is gonna soften your eyes, much less rot your brain! You spend all your time daydreaming and watching those silly movies on the TV and on your projector.
See more »

Connections

References Casablanca (1942) See more »

Soundtracks

Heroes
Lyrics by Carol Connors
Music by Craig Safan
Performed by Marsha Hunt
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User Reviews

 
Show business is a killer.
23 August 2015 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

I'd agree that "Fade to Black" works better in theory than in this actual execution. It should have been more fun, and admittedly the hook IS quite delicious: what if an unstable film geek murdered those who mocked him, while dressed up as his favourite cinematic characters?

The main problem is that our antihero, Eric Binford (Dennis Christopher), an employee for a film advertising firm, is not sympathetic in the slightest. This isn't a character whom you feel sorry for and root for so much as you want to smack him around. He's an ill-tempered, whiny wimp who attaches way too much importance to his knowledge of movie trivia.

Then again, this may well have been the intention of writer / director Vernon Zimmerman. One of my Internet acquaintances once described "Fade to Black" as "showing the dark side of being a film geek". Eric seemingly can't relate to anybody on a normal level, instead thinking entirely in cinematic terms. As unlikable as Eric may be, however, it's hard to say whether the problem is in the character as written or any ineptitude on Christophers' part.

Another thing that doesn't help are the scenes with the normally entertaining Tim Thomerson as a liberal minded police shrink. The character is a dolt and one doesn't want to root for HIM, either, even if he is sympathetic to Erics' plight.

It's still a fairly enjoyable experience, at least for any cinephile. Amid all the movie references, clips from classics such as "White Heat" and "Creature from the Black Lagoon" are edited in with ease. And it's cool to see Eric dress up as Dracula, The Mummy, and Hopalong Cassidy, etc. while in the act of doing away with his nemeses.

The good supporting cast includes Norman Burton, Morgan Paull, James Luisi, Eve Brent, John Steadman, Marcie Barkin, Peter Horton, and a swaggering young Mickey Rourke. The major bright spot is Australian beauty Linda Kerridge, a Marilyn Monroe lookalike who actually gets named Marilyn in the movie. As Erics' would be girlfriend, she shines.

A nice music score by Craig Safan and a rousing face off on top of Manns' Chinese Theatre are also highlights.

Six out of 10.


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