I was originally going to start this piece, “Eddie McCarlo is a poor writer’s idea of a nerd if there ever was one.” Within this one character exists too many clashing ideologies, I thought. He makes fun a girl for ‘being crazy’, he likes to get high with the sleazebag character — all while purporting to be this big sci-fi and fantasy geek. It just didn’t seem to jibe. However, the more I looked at the character and thought about his actions the more I realized: not only is he an amalgamation of different nerds but, as it turns out, I’ve known many Eddie McCarlos in my life. In a way, Eddie McCarlo is a Super Nerd.
Decked out in an army jacket covered in medals, patches (of the German flag?), and pop culture pins (R2-D2, baby), and constantly enthusing about his dreams of one day becoming a writer, Eddie is your classic history and fantasy nerd — one who appreciates the rise and fall of civilizations, whether real or on some imaginary planet. And those earlier actions, when he was making fun of a fellow weirdo and getting stoned with the jerks? He was just trying to fit in.
In fact, I’d argue Eddie McCarlo (who I’ve designated as one of my spirit animals) is perhaps one of the most real nerds of ’80s horror. In the end, everything he did to fit in just backfired — the true Loser’s Curse. He ended up getting too stoned and birthing the idea for Star Mummy, and the mocking of his peers (just to get on the good side of a girl he had a crush on, mind you) eventually blew up in his face.
In perhaps the quintessential Eddie McCarlo scene — one that summarizes the character and his plight in under one minute — we see him clad in an undershirt and tighty-whities, kicked out of bed by the girl he’d been crushing on, only to respond to his dismissal with: “Rejection. OK, fine. I can take it. I’ve been rejected by some of the finest science fiction magazines in the United States.” He exits, but not before letting us know he has a new date: one with a cold shower.
Eddie, we salute you.