Monday, September 26, 2011

"TOP OF THE WORLD, MA!" :Fade To Black (1980)

Fade To Black (1980)
Rating: ***
Starring: Dennis Christopher, Tim Thomerson and Gwynne Gilford

Eric is an obsessed movie buff with a penchant for old black and white titles. This single obsession often gets on the nerve of his remaining family, friends and co-workers, with their authorities often questioned by Eric through a series of trivia questions. To their eyes, he is a freak, but for Eric alone, he calls the shots in his own little world, running late night marathons of his movies, locking himself up in his room all day if he's not working, or go out to public screenings.

Things went differently for Eric one day when he met the "love of his life", a Marilyn Monroe look-alike and Australian model Marilyn O' Connor. Though friendly towards him, Marilyn accidentally forgot a date she and Eric was supposed to have, which triggered him homicidal and killing off those who he deemed oppressing him, starting with his aunt, and eventually works his way through the rest.

All the while, Dr. Jerry Moriarty, a criminal psychologists, tries to figure out who's committing these murders and to why they're each executed so differently. Will it be long before he gets his culprit, or will Eric successfully get away with his killing spree?

The direction for Fade To Black tries its best to have its audience relate to to its main character; Eric's a loner and a misfit, with no true distinctive likable trait upon the norms of society, but he does tries his best to fit in. The movie ventures into these depths and forms a creative look into the mind of an immature and deranged character, although the problem comes when we begin to see that Eric is not all that sympathetic or comfortable enough to root for since his personality is pretty selfish, hollow and rude, coming in to a mean-spirited and dark turn by the time he starts his murders. The only time it the film gathered our attention for him was during the finale atop Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, wherein Eric is at the lowest of his psyche, coming in too late in the movie for us to care for him, but had us watching out of interest to see how will it end for him.

In film's behalf, the idea is indeed original and interesting, if not a bit satirical; the catch from this slasher is that its killer murders his victims by reenacting classic scenes in other movies, not limiting around horror movies. The idea is great, but it lacked some impact to make it as shocking, scary or even memorable as possible due to its questionable quality and/or direction; the murders are tame, limited and uncreative, sometimes coming out as cheesily funny, however, if they lacked shock-value, they do make up for it with trivial pursuit: staying true to the movie's theme of classic movies, Eric dons various characters to disguise himself or as an inspiration including Bela Lugosi's Dracula, William Boyd's Hopalong Cassidy, Boris Karloff's The Mummy, Richard Widmark's Tommy Udo  from Kiss of Death and, perhaps memorable for me, Arthur 'Cody' Jarrett from White Heat.

Apart from that, the movie's just watchable in the sense that it perfectly juggles its drama-thriller and horror tones, with a well-paced story that looked professionally done without exploiting its subject. With little gore and T&A, Fade To Black may not appeal much for those who are looking for splatter and hot bods rubbing on each other, but rather, it targets those who wants their horror film with some bit of thought, so long as they can look pass its cheesiness.

It's a miniature cult classic, and I can understand why; If only it had more impact in its direction, I could had given Fade To Black a higher rating.

1 paraplegic female pushed down the stairs
1 female trips and impaled neck first to a wooden fence
1 male shot to death
1 male suffers a heart attack
1 male shot to death with tommy gun
1 male repeatedly shot, falls to his death
total: 6

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