Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Dennis Christopher and Linda Kerridge

FADE TO BLACK (1980). Writer/director: Vernon Zimmerman.

"I can't imagine the creature who would want to marry you. Who is this unlucky girl?"

A frustrated film buff nerd, Eric (Dennis Christopher), who lives with his monster of an aunt (Eve Brent), dresses up as famous movie characters and kills off his alleged enemies in manners relating to the pictures he loves. Fade to Black has a great premise -- if only it hadn't all been left up to undistinguished writer-director Zimmerman, for the movie is painfully slow-paced with a dull, dragged-out climax; 25 minutes of the film's running time should have been cut. The production is also rather cheapjack. That leaves it to the actors to make the film even remotely entertaining, and Christopher does a good job in the lead. Veteran actors James Luisi and Norman Burton make the best impression as, respectively, a police captain and Eric's boss, but there are also good moments from Immortals' Mickey Rourke (in an early film appearance) and Linda Kerridge, as a Monroe lookalike; she was "introduced" in this picture but only made a few more film appearances. Eve Brent (Forty Guns) overacts horribly as Eric's Aunt Stella.  There's at least one good scene -- a mob-style attack in a barber shop on an unethical producer -- and a Psycho shower scene spoof is slightly amusing. Tim Thomerson is a cokehead idiot psychiatrist named Dr. Moriarity; Gwynne Gilford is a cop named Anne; and Peter Horton is a guy on the make for Kerridge.

Verdict: Fade to Black all right. **.


angelman66 said...

I agree with all your criticisms, but I love watching Dennis Christopher's work as Eric Binford. He was a remarkably talented young actor, and as a film freak myself, I went to see this several times in the theater when it was released. Lind Kerridge really did resemble Marilyn Monroe, but when she opened her mouth and revealed that Aussie accent, it ruined the whole MM Doppleganger effect...I also enjoyed the character actress who played the aunt (or mother?). And Mickey Roarke had one of his first roles here too, and plays it well.

William said...

Rourke had that certain "X" factor all right, so it's no surprise he went on to better things, and somewhat surprising that Kerridge didn't. Fade to Black was heavily promoted and probably made money -- it sure didn't cost a lot, LOL. Thanks for your comments!