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.


Vernon Zimmerman
2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Dennis Christopher ... Eric Binford
Tim Thomerson ... Dr. Jerry Moriarty
Gwynne Gilford ... Officer Anne Oshenbull
Norman Burton ... Marty Berger (as Normann Burton)
Linda Kerridge ... Marilyn O'Connor
Morgan Paull ... Gary Bially
James Luisi ... Captain M.L. Gallagher
Eve Brent ... Aunt Stella Binford (as Eve Brent Ashe)
John Steadman ... Sam
Marcie Barkin ... Stacy
Mickey Rourke ... Richie
Peter Horton ... Joey
Hennen Chambers Hennen Chambers ... Bart
Melinda O. Fee ... Talk Show Hostess (as Melinda Fee)
Anita Converse Anita Converse ... Dee Dee


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 | Plot Synopsis


People used to laugh at Eric Binford. Now with every performance, he knocks them dead. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


When writer/director Vernon Zimmerman approached Irwin Yablans with his pitch for the movie, Yablans presented him with a similar screenplay he had written two years prior entitled "Alex". Zimmerman then incorporated some of Yablans' ideas for "Alex" into his own script. See more »


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 »


[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 »


References Casablanca (1942) See more »


Tomorrow Night
by Shoes
See more »

User Reviews

FADE TO BLACK (Vernon Zimmerman, 1980) **1/2
27 October 2007 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

This one presents an interesting and original idea for a slasher: a disturbed film buff kills people who have wronged him while dressed up as his favorite movie characters! It even has a Hollywood backdrop: in fact, I visited some of the places where it's set – such as Hollywood Boulevard (the violent climax itself takes place atop Grauman's Chinese Theater) and Venice Beach – when I was there in late 2005/early 2006.

Still, despite some undeniably good moments, I don't feel that the film extracts the full potential offered by this fascinating premise: to begin with, some of the references it makes are simply too obscure to be picked up by casual audiences (99 RIVER STREET [1953]) – while to others is attributed a significance beyond their worth (Hopalong Cassidy, THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL [1957]). The film is buoyed, however, by Dennis Christopher's striking leading performance – who gets to 'play' popular roles, interspersed with genuine excerpted footage, from the horror (Dracula and The Mummy), gangster (James Cagney from WHITE HEAT [1949]) and Western (William "Stage" Boyd as the afore-mentioned cowboy hero) genres during his various stalk-and-kill maraudings; he even replicates the famous wheelchair-down-the-stairs murder of an old woman perpetrated by a cackling Richard Widmark in KISS OF DEATH (1947).

Also notable are Tim Thomerson (later of TRANCERS [1985]) and Linda Kerridge: the former appears as the Professor of criminal psychology who reveals himself sympathetic to Christopher's plight (he's assisted by a female rookie, but eventually gets overruled by the stuffy Precinct Captain); Kerridge's uncanny resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, then, makes her the perfect 'idol' to drive Christopher in his warped crime-spree (among whose victims is a young Mickey Rourke). Finally, the film is equally enjoyable as a time-capsule – for the singular opportunity it offers of seeing various current releases on the marquee (ALL THAT JAZZ [1979], KRAMER VS. KRAMER [1979], COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER [1980], HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT [1980], SERIAL [1980]).

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Release Date:

14 October 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fade to Black See more »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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