Midnight Madness (film)

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Midnight Madness
MidnightMadness.jpg
Poster for Midnight Madness
Directed by Michael Nankin
David Wechter
Produced by Ron Miller
Written by Michael Nankin
David Wechter
Starring David Naughton
Michael J. Fox
Stephen Furst
Maggie Roswell
Eddie Deezen
Debra Clinger
Brad Wilkin
Music by Julius Wechter
Cinematography Frank V. Phillips
Edited by Norman R. Palmer
Jack Sekely
Production
company
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • February 8, 1980 (1980-02-08)
Running time
112 min
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2.9 million

Midnight Madness is a 1980 American comedy film produced by Walt Disney Productions and starring David Naughton, Stephen Furst and Maggie Roswell.[1][2]

The city of Los Angeles is the game board as five teams of college students attempt to win "The Great All-Nighter," a dusk-to-dawn competition dreamed up by an eccentric graduate student. David Naughton and Stephen Furst are paired with a grab-bag group of fellow students including Michael J. Fox in his first film appearance.[1] The film was directed by Michael Nankin.[1]

Plot[edit]

Graduate student Leon (Alan Solomon) summons five college students to his apartment and challenges them to participate in his latest game creation: The Great All-Nighter. He tells them about his game and instructs them to form teams. At first, the leaders refuse to play. However, rivalries between them lead all five to change their minds by the game's start time.

Leon, as "game master," keeps track of the teams locations with a giant map, and various radio equipment. The teams are supposed to call and check in at each clue (though many of the teams end up skipping at least one location).

The adventures of the other three teams are subplots, as well as the situation at Leon's apartment ("Game Control"). Here, along with his female assistants Candy and Sunshine (Debi Richter and Kirsten Baker), Leon monitors the progress of the game. Already unpopular with his landlady, Mrs. Grimhaus (Irene Tedrow), for the amount of noise he makes, Leon faces eviction if any of the other tenants complain. Several of them do show up to complain, but as Leon explains the mechanics of the game to them, they become fascinated with it and help run it, much to the annoyance of Grimhaus.

The game culminates in a race-to-the-finish at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel where the yellow team ultimately prevails and wins the game. A huge party consisting of all contestants and game control follows.

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

Supporting[edit]

Production notes[edit]

Paul Reubens (better known as Pee-Wee Herman) has a small part as the "Pinball City Proprietor." Other cameos include John Fiedler as Wally Thorpe, one of the other tenants, and Marvin Kaplan as the Bonaventure Desk Clerk.

The Star Fire game in the video arcade that provides the clue to the final destination was an actual arcade game of the period. The game play was real; however a special open cabinet for a standing player had been created for the movie, since the real game cabinet was an enclosed cockpit in which the player was seated.

The movie was novelized in a 1980 paperback, Midnight Madness, by Tom Wright (Ace, 1980) ISBN 0-441-52985-2

Release and reception[edit]

Midnight Madness was rated PG—only the second film from the Disney company to receive anything other than a "G" (the first was The Black Hole). Although produced by Disney, the company's name did not appear on the credits.

The film only experienced a limited release, and garnered bad reviews. Roger Ebert, in his review, expressed disappointment at the work, as he was already a fan of the early work of Nankin and Wechter. It ultimately grossed $2.9 million in the North American box office. However, the film achieved a small cult following after it began airing on the HBO cable network. After a 2001 DVD release from Anchor Bay Entertainment, Midnight Madness was re-released in 2004 by Disney DVD with the "Walt Disney Pictures Presents" logo—the first time that Disney has officially associated itself with the film.

Legacy[edit]

Midnight Madness has inspired many spin-offs and other Alternate Reality Games (ARG). Among some of the more popular recreations are:

  • Midnight Madness (Hot Springs, Arkansas) - Played every December
  • Midnight Madness (Austin, Texas) - The Austin game is played biannually and was created by several Austin transplants including, two veterans from the Hot Springs game.
  • Midnight Madness Brevard (Brevard County, Florida) - Played on a regular basis, with multiple games being held each year.
  • Midnight Madness VT (Greater Burlington, VT) - Runs multiple games per year. midnightmadnessvt on Facebook.
  • The Game - a non-stop 24- to 48-hour puzzle solving race that is currently active in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Seattle Area
  • Mike's Hunt, a 24-hour game played by the members of the Rutgers University Glee Club, has a heavy clue-solving component, with the clues leading to the development of a storyline in which the players become involved.
  • Get-a-Clue (Atlanta, Georgia) - Played annually by members of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Marching Band and friends. Interactive and "nerdy" clues centering on a theme/storyline lead participants around the city and nearby counties.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Rap duo Heltah Skeltah sampled the film's theme for their song of the same name.
  • The stop motion animation program Robot Chicken (shown on Adult Swim) has featured brief homages to Midnight Madness, two in "Episode 1-10: Badunkadunk", and one in "Episode 2-6: 1987". In the first episode, two scenes from the film are reenacted, one where Leon reveals himself to the team leaders, another where Blue Team member Barf assembles the letters of a clue into the nonsense word "Fagabeefe". In the second, the chant of "Meat Machine" is reenacted.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Midnight Madness". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 25, 2016. 
  2. ^ RogerEbert.com

External links[edit]