Friends, it was 40 years ago today that the excellent if perhaps not widely known Fade to Black was first released to theaters. And like with Heavy Metal as well as Terror Train, while Fade to Black did play at the theater of my youth – the first time I caught the thriller was thanks yet again to the Movie Channel. Although I certainly do remember standing in the lobby one weekend, just staring at that awesome poster for the film, of Dennis Christopher (Stephen King’s It, Django Unchained) as his character of Eric Binford, made up to resemble the likes of Dracula and The Mummy. Being raised by my Father as a Monster Kid and a fan of movies in general – I think it is pretty evident why Fade to Black fast became a favorite in our household.
While Fade to Black hooks you with the lovable loser character of Binford as played by Christopher – much like with 1993’s Falling Down – there is a moment where you abruptly find yourself no longer sympathizing with the lead – instead being quite concerned with those he comes in contact with after he loses his grip on reality.
Dennis Christopher obviously deserves the lion’s share of praise for not just how much sympathy he imbued into his portrayal – but also for playing more than one ‘character’. However it was Vernon Zimmerman (Teen Witch) who was the Director and Writer of Fade to Black that wisely chose some strong supporting actors for the film. Including Tim Thomerson (Trancers, Near Dark), Peter Horton (Thirtysomething), Norman Burton (Diamonds Are Forever), Linda Kerridge (Vicious Lips), and of course Mickey Rourke (Angel Heart, Nightmare Cinema).
Fade to Black doesn’t appear to have done very well when it was released but at the very least has managed to become a cult film over the years. As a matter of fact, the film apparently received a split judgement by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert on their popular Sneak Previews television series.
As I previously mentioned, Fade to Black is perhaps not a widely known movie – until just recently as I understand it – your only options to see the film were the VHS release from the ’80s and a long out of print DVD produced by Anchor Bay Entertainment back in 1999. Having said that though, you can watch it right this minute if you are subscriber to the Shudder streaming service – so why not celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Fade to Black this evening by re-watching or checking the film out for the first time?