Taglines: This is the story of a great star and a fan who went too far.
Douglas Breen (Michael Biehn), a deranged young New York City record salesman, writes a rambling letter to stage and film star Sally Ross (Lauren Bacall). Having sent multiple obsessive and borderline-sexual letters to Ross, her assistant, Belle (Maureen Stapleton) has been intercepting them, responding herself and asking him to stop. Douglas feels ignored, and becomes determined to meet with Sally and consummate “his love” for her.
Sally has recently taken a job in a musical stage production, and has been reconnecting with her ex-husband, Jake (James Garner), who is in town filming a movie. After Belle receives another explicit sexual letter from Douglas, she brings it to Sally’s attention; Sally scolds her for being rude to the fan, and brushes it off, saying she’s had to deal with many fans who have had extensive “fantasies” about her.
Meanwhile, Douglas begins stalking Sally, sitting outside of her apartment building, and following her to her stage rehearsals. He decides to hand-deliver a letter to her while she is rehearsing for the musical, but he watches the man at the studio give the letter to Belle, whom he realizes is the assistant who has been writing the nasty responses to him.
After the rehearsal ends, Douglas follows Belle into the subway, where he slashes her face open with a razor. She survives the attack, but is hospitalized. When police press her for information, Belle cannot remember the name on the obsessive letters’ return addresses; when police inquire about it to Sally, she says that they do not keep the fan mail.
Increasingly enraged by his lack of contact with Sally, Douglas manages to break into her apartment, and murders her maid, Elsa, in the bathroom. Sally returns home with a private investigator, and finds Elsa’s body in a pool of blood, and her apartment in shambles. A letter is left behind, reading:
“Dearest bitch, I’ve exhausted myself trying to think of the perfect way to kill you. See how accessible you are? How would you like to be fucked with a meat cleaver?”
Sally, distraught, flees New York City and retreats to a secluded house in the country. At a bar, Douglas meets a man who cruises him for sex. The two go to the rooftop of Douglas’ building, where the man begins to perform oral sex on him, but Douglas stabs him to death and lights his body on fire. Meanwhile, Jake realizes that Sally has retreated to the beach house she and he had purchased together, and goes to visit her.
The Fan is a 1981 American horror film directed by Edward Bianchi, and starring Lauren Bacall, Michael Biehn, James Garner and Maureen Stapleton. It was written by Priscilla Chapman and John Hartwell, based on a novel of the same name by Bob Randall. The plot follows a famous stage and film actress named Sally Ross (Bacall) who is stalked by a violent, deranged fan (Biehn), who begins killing those around her.
The Fan (1981)
Directed by: Ed Bianchi
Starring: Lauren Bacall, Michael Biehn, James Garner, Maureen Stapleton, Hector Elizondo, Anna Maria Horsford, Kurt Johnson, Feiga Martinez
Screenplay by: Priscilla Chapman
Production Design by: Santo Loquasto
Cinematography by: Dick Bush
Film Editing by: Alan Heim
Costume Design by: Jeffrey Kurland
Set Decoration by: Leslie Bloom
Art Direction by: Paul Eads
Music by: Pino Donaggio
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: May 15, 1981