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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Movie Blog : Fade to Black

Jules of Cinema Movie Blog
by Julia Marchese

Fade to Black
Released October 14, 1980

I’m usually not shy when it comes to talking to celebrities. I’m not one of those annoying kids who will disturb people at dinner, but if I see someone I respect, I’ll usually toddle over and say hi, with no embarrassment.

The one celebrity who struck fear into my heart was Mickey Rourke. We’ve all heard stories about Mickey. Punching people, generally being mean, and looking pretty plastic to boot. I had visions of walking up to him and getting a sock in the nose before the first syllable of his name left my mouth.

I mustered my courage to the sticking place and said “Mr. Rourke, I love you in ‘Fade To Black’”. He stopped, really looked at me, and grabbed my hand. “What’s your name?” he asked, in his husky voice. “Julia” I responded, meekly. “Julia, Sweetheart, no one has ever told me that before. Thank you. “ He kissed my hand, and I walked away on cloud nine. Not only was he awesome, and kissed my hand, but also I gave him a compliment he had never heard before – every geek’s dream. Score!!

The movie of which I spoke, “Fade to Black”, is a little seen horror classic. Released in 1980, it was executive produced by Irwin Yablans, fresh off of the success of Halloween. The star, Dennis Christopher, had just been nominated for a Golden Globe for his break out role in “Breaking Away.”

Christopher stars as Eric Binford, the movie geek to end all movie geeks. (He even has a New Beverly Cinema calendar in his room! Yes!) This is before VHS, kids, so Eric locks himself in his bedroom, wearing a rakishly tilted fedora and chain smoking while he watches classic films on his 16mm projector. He evil aunt hates him, all of the people at work hate him, he’s an outcast who’s longing for someone to share his useless movie knowledge with. Today he would embrace his inner geek and find companionship at the Fangoria convention, but this is 1980. Being called a geek was an insult and not a compliment. Under too much pressure, Eric’s line between fantasy and reality snaps and he begins dressing like the characters he idolizes so much and bumping off those who have done him wrong. Like Richie, (Mr. Rourke) his conniving coworker.

This film is incredible. Dennis Christopher is perfect as Eric Binford, he’s down trodden and dorky, but you love him so much, you remain on his side throughout. Tim Thomerson and Gwynne Gilford are unintentionally hilarious as the cops on Eric’s tail. Not only does this film have some of the most creative deaths ever put to screen, but it also features a babe-a-licious Australian Marilyn Monroe, film trivia a go go, and the most jaw dropping Grauman’s Chinese Theater finale ever.

If Mickey Rourke likes it, you should too.

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