short takes (2)

Dennis Christopher picked up a lot of momentum with his starring role in "Breaking Away." In Fade to Black, his career takes a disastrous step backward. The main character is a demented movie buff who becomes a murderer, borrowing evil schemes from old Hollywood films. It's a lurid show, punctuated with squalid sex and vehement violence. It also includes clips of old favorites from James Cagney to Boris Karloff, but they merely throw the messiness of this campy creep-show into high relief. Vernon Zimmerman, once the engagingly experimental director of "Lemon Hearts," is the filmaker.

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