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"Fade to Black" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

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"Fade to Black" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Old 09-28-21, 09:29 PM
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"Fade to Black" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge



Fade to Black (1980)




Selected by alyxstarr


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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags aren't always used in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS.

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2021 DISCUSSION | 2021 LISTS

Old 10-17-21, 05:57 AM
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Re: "Fade to Black" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I think this is an under rated slasher, but to me its also a great character study of a movie obsessed kid who lives out his fantasies to take revenge on those that ridicule him.
Old 10-17-21, 08:20 AM
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Re: "Fade to Black" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Yep. I like this one too.
Old 10-17-21, 09:09 AM
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Re: "Fade to Black" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Dennis Christopher is amazing as the hero/villain and makes FtB work. I think FtB is a surface level thriller but if there is any subtext about movies being corrosive then that seems odd and out of synch with the audience; or maybe its saying that people need to really understand cinema at a deeper level than trivia and obsession. FtB goes too dark too soon then falls into an angst, murder, repeat pattern saved from being more formulaic by Dennis Christopher's charisma and charm selling some great costume effects. It is cool to see which movie he will mimic next. Im glad I got to see FtB.
Old 10-17-21, 09:26 AM
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Re: "Fade to Black" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I enjoyed this way more than I expected. The trailer makes it look pretty silly but I found it to be a nice character study of a disturbed kid who wholly embraces his obsession with movies and specific fictional characters, to the point of murder.

The performances are rather good but the Psychologist Moriarty character was half written. He can't seem to make up his mind if it is the movies fault or the disturbed kid's fault. Then one second Moriarty is acting like a bulletproof Rambo kicking doors in and when he could maybe try to reason with the kid, he calls the kid crazy as shit. The other part I couldn't help laughing at was when the Marilyn gets the gun and Moriarty screams out for her to run and the worst time possible. And his constant back and forths with the movie stereotypical police Captain seemed so forced and silly throughout the film. Honestly, that Psychologist character could have been removed from the movie and it would have instantly made it better. That character was inept in every scene.

I thought the costumes for Eric were very well done and creepy. The Dracula costume would have been even cooler had they left it half and half. The Hopalong Cassidy costume was super spooky and the Mummy looked great.

This movie seemed like a nice time capsule of that time. All the movie posters, theater marquees, movie star one-shots, memorabilia, etc. made the movie even more fun to watch, especially if you are a movie fan. And the girl playing Marilyn looked amazingly similar when dolled up at the end. Pretty impressive. And there are tons of recognizable faces scattered about in early roles.

So I definitely enjoyed this one. It isn't perfect but it was fun to watch.

My rating: *** out of *****
Old 10-17-21, 03:21 PM
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Re: "Fade to Black" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I'm not a fan of this one. I first saw it way back when it first came out on videotape, and I wasn't particularly fond of it then, either. I watched it when I bought the DVD probably fifteen years ago, and then tonight was the third time, which didn't turn out to be the charm. I think that the movie fails (for me, anyway) because the character of Eric Binford is so socially inept to begin with, yet it feels like writer/director Vernon Zimmerman wants us to feel sorry for him because of things that are entirely within his power to change. To me, Binford's an essentially unlikable character, so I can't feel any kind of elation when he gets back at his enemies. The script's implausibilities are also horribly off-putting; Binford hits his co-workers up for money, yet he's able to purchase an antique car and tommy gun and rent space to set up his bogus photography studio and spend even more money furnishing it. He breaks into a home and assaults a woman in the shower, yet she apparently doesn't report it to the cops. And how did the cops tie someone dressed as Dracula to the prostitute's murder? There didn't seem to be any witnesses--which in itself seems to be unlikely, as crashing through a fence hard enough to get impaled on a fence stake probably makes enough noise to rouse at least a neighbor or two.

No, I don't like this one, not at all.

My subset film rankings for the Challenge thus far:

1. Battle Royale
2. Carrie (1976)
3. Curse of the Demon
4. Slither
5. Tower of Evil
6. Witchfinder General
7. A Bay of Blood / The Spiral Staircase (averaged together)
8. Silent Madness
9. Slumber Party Massacre II (based purely on its out-of-left-field aesthetic)
10. In Search of Darkness
11. Road Games
12. Cure
13. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II
14. Grave Robbers (Ladrones de Tumbas)
15. The Severed Arm
16. Fade to Black
17. The Mortuary Collection
18. Cutting Class
Old 10-17-21, 06:22 PM
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Re: "Fade to Black" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I was pretty hot and cold on this one. To some extent the killings in the style of different characters is a lot of fun. But it was also hard to have too much fun with them in the tone set forward and the character's behavior. I might have to watch this again some day when I'm in a different mood.
Old 10-17-21, 09:32 PM
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Re: "Fade to Black" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I'm not a fan of this one either, probably because the character was unlikeable, as others have pointed out. Mainly I found it slow and it didn't hold my interest.
Old 10-17-21, 11:30 PM
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Re: "Fade to Black" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by rbrown498
The script's implausibilities are also horribly off-putting; Binford hits his co-workers up for money, yet he's able to purchase an antique car and tommy gun and rent space to set up his bogus photography studio and spend even more money furnishing it. He breaks into a home and assaults a woman in the shower, yet she apparently doesn't report it to the cops. And how did the cops tie someone dressed as Dracula to the prostitute's murder? There didn't seem to be any witnesses--which in itself seems to be unlikely, as crashing through a fence hard enough to get impaled on a fence stake probably makes enough noise to rouse at least a neighbor or two.
As far as the car rental, tommy gun, rental space, etc., I chalked that up to the insurance money he gained from his Aunt/Mom dying. It was mentioned to him by his boss when he got fired.

But I forgot that I was put off by the cops solving the murders. So much so that I went back and rewound it several scenes to make sure I didn't miss anything. Suddenly the cops know it is him and other then it showing him coming out of a police station for an interview, nothing is mentioned on how they connected him to any of the murders. They just suddenly show up at his house explaining that he is the killer.

I don't disagree that the main character is unlikeable but he has his reasons. But it is obvious his Aunt/Mom is sexually abusing him (the massage discussion), he is a loner and considered weird by his coworkers, boss, etc. and just has a socially awful life. So he descends into madness and creates an alternate life that isn't so awful with movies.
The following 2 users liked this post by Spiderbite:
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Old 10-18-21, 09:03 AM
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Re: "Fade to Black" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by Spiderbite
The performances are rather good but the Psychologist Moriarty character was half written.
Until the police visited Binford's house I thought the Moriarty character and subplot were added in post-production because it seemed so disjointed. He is introduced and disappears for long stretches of the movie. His cocaine-fueled harmonica playing bit was funny though.

As someone devoted to movies Binford is at least working in the industry albeit in a decrepit film warehouse with puddles everywhere. As mentioned he is an unlikable character so he is difficult to sympathize with but the movie is a good look at a bygone era of Hollywood.
Old 10-18-21, 09:52 AM
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Re: "Fade to Black" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

It's far from a perfect movie, but I still really like it. I don't find the lead character as unlikable as some of you, more emotionally messed up. I love how much this is a love letter about film, a twisted love letter but still a love letter nonetheless. I appreciated the films that got done up. I'm a big Cagney fan so always enjoy seeing him get some admission tossed his way.

I do agree with some of the knocks, though. The police must have been really busy off camera to solve this like they did. Also, it's surely surprising that the damsel would be so accommodating and interested in such a socially awkward guy like our lead, but I just attribute that to movie logic.

This is one I distantly remember seeing on cable way back in the day when I wasn't yet old enough to appreciate many of the movie references.
Old 10-26-21, 07:05 AM
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Re: "Fade to Black" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Agree with most of you and really enjoy this one. I’m a sucker for anything sorta meta or about film itself like this, but agree that the psychologist character was useless.

Stealing rbrown’s subset ranking idea:

Curse of the Demon, 8/10
The Phantom Carriage, 8/10
Carrie, 8/10
Fade to Black, 8/10
Cure, 8/10
Battle Royale, 8/10

The Spiral Staircase, 8/10
Slumber Party Massacre 2, 7/10
A Bay of Blood, 7/10
The Frighteners, 7/10

Road Games, 7/10
Slither, 7/10
Witchfinder General 7/10
The Mortuary Collection, 6/10
Cutting Class, 6/10
Prom Night 2: Hello Mary Lou, 6/10
In Search of Darkness, 6/10
Tower of Evil, 5/10
Grave Robbers, 5/10

Silent Madness, 5/10
The Severed Arm, 4/10

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