Fade to Black – USA, 1980 – overview and reviews


Fade to Black is a 1980 American satirical horror film written and directed by Vernon Zimmerman. Executive producer Irwin Yablans produced John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978).


Dennis Christopher, Eve Brent Ashe, Linda Kerridge, Mickey Rourke and Peter Horton.


Released in October 1980, Fade to Black was commercially unsuccessful, but later garnered a minor cult following. It was released on DVD in 1999 by Anchor Bay Entertainment.



Eric Binford is a hollow, chain smoking young man who is also an obsessed film addict whose love of old films extends far beyond his job at a Los Angeles film distributor’s warehouse and endless late night film screenings in his bedroom. For his vast knowledge, he’s been bullied by his friends and family.


His singular obsession eventually rounds the bend into psychosis after he crosses paths with Marilyn O’Connor (Linda Kerridge), an Australian model and a Marilyn Monroe look-alike who becomes the physical embodiment of his cinematic desires.


When (unintentionally) stood up by Marilyn on what would have been their first date, Eric becomes homicidally unbalanced, transforming himself into a gallery of classic film characters – including Dracula, The Mummy, and Hopalong Cassidy – and sets out to destroy his oppressors, starting with his crotchety wheelchair-using, ex-dancer Aunt Stella…


Reviews [click links to read more]:

‘The promise shown in the early parts of the film is squandered by a bad script, lack of vision, and mediocre performances. The death scenes where Eric dresses as classic characters are fun, but would’ve packed much more of a punch if it felt like the same character we fell for in the first place.’ John Portanova, The MacGuffin


‘I just wish the movie was tighter. Binford just does his thing over and over again; the sequences are fun in and of themselves, but they don’t add up to a hell of a lot. Plus there’s no real evolution to his character, he seems just as crazy after his first kill as he does after the last one.’ Horror Movie a Day


Fade to Black is an intelligent, ingenious, imaginative and pleasingly self-reflective horror movie … the film succeeds in portraying the world of movie buffery as a seemingly seductive but in fact deadening, de-sensitizing cul-de-sac, in particular in its shots of the weird Night of the Living Dead audience blithely munching popcorn whilst watching scenes of appalling on-screen horror.’ Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror




Cast and characters:

  • Dennis Christopher as Eric Binford
  • Tim Thomerson as Doctor Jerry Moriarty
  • Gwynne Gilford as Off. Anne Oshenbull
  • Norman Burton as Marty Berger
  • Linda Kerridge as Marilyn O’Connor
  • Morgan Paull as Gary Bially
  • James Luisi as Capt. M. L. Gallagher
  • Eve Brent Ashe as Aunt Stella Binford
  • John Steadman as Sam
  • Marcie Barkin as Stacy
  • Mickey Rourke as Richie
  • Peter Horton as Joey
  • Melinda O. Fee as Talk Show Hostess


In Nightmare (1981), killer George Tatum (Baird Stafford) walks past a New York movie theater showing Fade to Black.

Wikipedia | IMDb | Image thanks: Wrong Side of the Art!

3 Comments on “Fade to Black – USA, 1980 – overview and reviews”

  1. Played cable like crazy back in the early 1980s, then seemed to disappear. Love it. We need more dangerous films like this one, wherein the hero is technically (by the law’s of society) the bad guy.

    1. I was pleased to finally see it last night – thanks to YouTube – and it begins well. I was pleasantly surprised as I’d had my doubts but then, alas, it unfortunately generates into a repetitious ‘kills’ movie with only Eric’s guises to maintain interest. The ‘zany’ Tim Thomerson character simply doesn’t work in the context he’s placed. Still, well worth a look…

      Adrian, Horrorpedia

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