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1980 Movie Reviews – Fade to Black

by Sean P. Aune | October 14, 2020October 14, 2020 1:17 pm EDT

Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1980 was an exciting year for films giving us a lot of films that would go on to be beloved favorites and cult classics. It was also the start to a major shift in cultural and societal norms, and some of those still reverberate to this day.

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We’re going to pick and choose which movies we hit, but right now the list stands at nearly three dozen.

Yes, we’re insane, but 1980 was that great of a year for film.

The articles will come out – in most cases – on the same day the films hit theaters in 1980 so that it is their true 40th anniversaries. All films are also watched again for the purposes of these reviews and are not being done from memory. In some cases, it truly will be the first time we’ve seen them.

This time around it’s Oct. 14, 1980, and we’re off to see Fade to Black!

Quick side note: Since we launched this series this year, we’ve discovered that Vintage Video Podcast is doing the exact same project with two differences: First, it’s audio (naturally), and second, they are doing every major film. We’ve listened to a couple of episodes and it’s fun checking off their thoughts against my own. Check them out over at Vintage Video Podcast.

1980 Movie Project - Fade to Black - 01

Fade to Black

File this as another horror film the flew under my rade in 1980. (To be fair, I was 9-years-old at this point in 1980)

Fade to Black filled me with a bit of dread before watching it as it looked insanely cheesy. Instead what I found was a rather entertaining dive into a character suffering a psychological break and diving further into his psychosis through the medium of film. With a healthy dose of humor sprinkled throughout – but never to a distracting degree – you get a film that fires competently on multiple cylinders.

Eric Binford (Dennis Christopher) gets to his breaking point when he is accidentally stood up for a date by Marilyn (Linda Kerridge) and decides to finally take down everyone that has wronged him from his aunt/mother to his workplace bullies. Along the way he adopts a different persona from a favorite film to be the killer from Dracula to Hopalong Cassidy.

The one place this falls down, and it’s a shortfall, is the early 1980s trope I’m discovering of “The cop has to very quickly get a woman he has come into contact with into bed.” For some unknown reason the film feels the need to get the cop-adjacent Dr. Jerry Moriarty (Tim Thomerson) into bed with Officer Anne Oshenbull (Gwynne Gilford) for no good reason. it does nothing to forward the plot, but hey, it happens. We saw this similar incident in The Exterminator a few weeks back, and I just have no clue why it’s a thing.

Overall, Fade to Black is a quirky little film that won’t be for everyone, and that’s to be expected. I found it an enjoyable little slice of the early 1980s, and a bit ahead of its time in tone. It’s a fun watch.


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Sean P. Aune

Sean Aune has been a pop culture aficionado since before there was even a term for pop culture. From the time his father brought home Amazing