Midnight Madness (film)
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Poster for Midnight Madness
|Directed by||Michael Nankin
|Produced by||Ron Miller|
|Written by||Michael Nankin
Michael J. Fox
|Music by||Julius Wechter|
|Cinematography||Frank V. Phillips|
|Edited by||Norman R. Palmer
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|Box office||$2.9 million|
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. The film was directed by Michael Nankin.
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.
- David Naughton as Adam Larson - Yellow Team Leader
- Debra Clinger as Laura - Yellow Team
- David Damas as Marvin - Yellow Team
- Michael J. Fox as Scott Larson (credited as Michael Fox)
- Stephen Furst as Harold - Blue Team Leader
- Patricia Alice Albrecht as Lucille - Blue Team
- Andy Tennant as Melio - Blue Team
- Brian Frishman as Barf - Blue Team
- Joel Kenney as Flynch - Yellow Team (credited as Joel P. Kenney)
- Sal Lopez as Blade - Blue Team
- Maggie Roswell as Donna - Red Team Leader
- Robyn Petty as Berle - Red Team
- Betsy Lynn Thompson as Peggy - Red Team
- Carol Gwynn Thompson as Lulu - Red Team
- Eddie Deezen as Wesley - White Team Leader
- Marvin Katzoff as Debater #1 - White Team
- Christopher Sands as Debater #2 - White Team
- Michael Gitomer as Debater #3 - White Team
- Brad Wilkin as Lavitas - Green Team Leader
- Dirk Blocker as Blaylak - Green Team
- Curt Ayers as Armpit - Green Team
- Trevor Henley as Cudzo - Green Team
- Keny Long as Gerber - Green Team
- Irene Tedrow as Mrs. Grimhaus
- Alan Solomon as Leon
- Deborah Richter as Candy (credited as Debi Richter)
- Kirsten Baker as Sunshine
- John Fiedler as Wally Thorpe
- Ceil Gabot as Mrs. Thorpe
- Charlie Brill as Jerry - Tenant #1
- Loretta Tupper as Mr. Thorpe's Mother
- Eddie Bloom as Game Control Bookie
- Dave Shelley as Harold's Father
- Marvin Kaplan as Bonaventure Desk Clerk
- Bert Williams as Security Captain
- Arthur Adams as Police Sergeant
- Thomas Wright as Cop #1 (credited as Tom Wright)
- Elven Havard as Cop #2
- Ernie Fuentes as Miniature Golf Dad
- Pilar Del Rey as Miniature Golf Mom (credited as Pillar Del Rey)
- Georgia Schmidt as Old Lady in Car
- J. Brennan Smith as Bratty Kid
- Don Maxwell as Bratty Kid's Dad
- Paul Reubens as Pinball City Proprietor
- John Voldstad as Bellboy
- Jack Griffin as Tow Truck Driver
- Dick Winslow as Tourist
- Emily Greer as Teenage Girl #1
- Paula Victor as Cashier
- Tony Salome as Irving
- Donna Garrett as Busty Waitress
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.
Release and reception
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.
- 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
- 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.
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