Friday, October 30, 2009

Can we gay it down a notch?

"His whole life is a movie!"

I have a hard time with the gays who cannot deal with being gay. These are the kids who pretend to have girlfriends in other states and fixate on celebrities (“I’m saving myself for Fiona Apple”). It’s dark-sided. The not-gay gays always end up letting their darkness fester until they’re wearing trench coats and gunning down the drama club, or being taken away by Chris Hansen after a ten year sexless marriage to a zaftig woman who wore pleated pants! It’s hard enough to like oneself after eight years of George Bush telling the nation that the gays were responsible for 9/11 and an election cycle here in California that encouraged people to openly discriminate against their gay neighbors (I shan’t pretend that I didn’t throw a hot coffee at a Christian activist who called me a “sodomite”. I’m mature).  It’s just love, y’all. Who cares!? It’s impossible to rationalize with these not-gay-gays and when you hang out with them; it’s like hanging out with Paul Lynde and he’s riding big pink and purple elephant and you’re not allowed to give the elephant peanuts! I don’t like it. This brings us to Fade to Black (1980).

Have you ever wondered what happens when a boy refuses to participate in the outside world - choosing instead to live in the land of comic books and horror movies and the rent free confines of his elderly parent's house? He becomes a sociopath. Fade to Black explores the dark side of being a fanboy with the tale of Eric Binford. Eric Binford lives with his crippled aunt, Stella. He's far too old to still be living at home, but ambition is waylaid by his compulsive obsession with old movies. He just sits in his dark, smelly bedroom day after day, night after night, chain-smoking in his underwear and pawning over old videos (taking the occasional break to masturbate to Marilyn Monroe cutouts and Meryl Streep fanzines). When Eric meets a girl who looks like Marilyn at a diner and decides that they are meant to live happily ever after together, reality comes crashing in on him. Marilyn can smell the crazy on him from 6 feet away, the rejection of which causes Eric to go on a killing spree. Conveniently enough, he has a degree in cosmetology and begins dressing up to reenact scenes from his favorite movies, whether the Mummy or Dracula or Jimmy Cagney... the movie kind of ends there. Eric doesn't even physically kill most of them, he just happens to "scare" them to death. He shoots Mickey Rourke for no good reason other than Mickey being more attractive and popular than he is. Without any keys to Eric's childhood or him having a clear objective, the whole bloodless affair is pointless.

Fade to Black has a great concept - a sociopathic loner becomes a serial killer who stages scenes from classic movies; but Fade to Black is not well executed. It plays like an old movie of the week. The film-makers bend over backward trying to make Eric Binford a sympathetic character, an underdog victim of a culture obsessed with media consumption, and it doesn't work. Aside from a clever finale shot inside the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Fade to Black is a pass. There is an important lesson to be learned here, kids: when making a horror movie, don't shy away from the fact that losers are losers and they kill people with no remorse - that's the real terror!

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