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With the DVD craze in full swing, many films are being given "the treatment", as it is sometimes referred to in southern prisons (although I think they are actually referring to something else in those cases). With these weekly releases of "special edition" masterpieces, jam-packed with deleted scenes, making-of specials, and running commentaries by directors, actors, and even gaffers, many film Midnight Madnessdistributors have begun scraping the bottom of the barrel for titles, desperate to feed the DVD-starved all-consuming public. Anyone catch the director's cut of GHOST DAD? Didn't think so.

Anyway, hidden amidst the many suspect special editions, Disney, with little fanfare, unleashed the 1980 film MIDNIGHT MADNESS on DVD to the unsuspecting public. Perhaps better known as the first PG film ever produced by Disney and the movie debuts of Michael J. Fox and Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Reubens, those of us who spent the summer of 1981 glued to HBO remember it for different reasons.

In the film, a nerdy college student named Leon concocts a game called "The Great All-Nighter" in which teams compete in an all-night scavenger hunt across the Los Angeles area for the ultimate prize (Please note that the prize is never actually explained or identified). Leon carefully selects local arch rivals as the team leaders and presents his idea. The leaders include the straight guy (David Naughton), the fat, rich jerk (Stephen Furst), the jock (Brad Wilkin), the pencil-neck geek (Eddie Deezen), and the sorority girl (Maggie Roswell). At first the leaders seem reluctant, thinking Leon and his idea are, as Deezen exclaims, "Silly!" We, however, know things are serious by the shirt Leon wears which reads "Game Master". Of course, the leaders, each with his or her own unique hatred for one of the others, quickly change their tune and agree to the challenge. Teams are chosen and the game begins at sundown. At Leon's apartment, he presents the teams with a riddle, then exclaims to the teams, "See you at the finish line… wherever that may be." Of course, I can't divulge any more of the plot, for fear of spoiling things for those of you who missed the film in the early eighties. I can assure you, however, that things get pretty competitive as the teams comb the suburban Los Angeles landscape in search of the finish line, and getting in many adventures along the way.

I also assure you that you must throw all logic and reason in the toilet, and not stop to ask yourself why, at two o'clock in the morning is the Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery still giving tours? Or why, two hours later at a video arcade, are ten year old children busy playing "Star Fighter" alongside their loving parents and guardians? Or how the fat, rich jerk has in his possession a super computer that can "solve any clue in ten seconds flat"? I warn you, if you go into this film in this frame of mind you will miss the point. And what is the point exactly? I'm not sure. But I assure you, fans of camp, nostalgia, bizarre-ness, and Pee-Wee, you will not be disappointed. Just to commemorate this event with other die-hard fans of the film (and I sincerely hope, for my own sanity, that you're out there), the following is a list of some of my favorite quotes from the movie…

"E… Eagle… Easter… Easter bunny… Easter parade!" - BARF, the blue team
"Look between the two giant melons." - LEON, game master
"Oh, miss… can we have some more coffee?" - WESLEY, the white team
"I scared you, didn't I?" - WORKER, video arcade
"M-E-A-T! M-A-C-H-I-N-E! Meat Machine! Meat Machine! Yeah!" - the green team members
"Hug me!" - WESLEY, the white team
"Hey, look… it's a picture of Leon!" - BARF, the blue team
"Fagabefe?" - BARF, the blue team

So, to all of you uninitiated, potential Midnight Madness fanatics, if those gripping, heart-wrenching quotes don't send you running to the video store, or even better, placing an order on-line for your very own copy, then I take pity on you. And to those of you still desperately holding onto your "taped off of HBO in 1981" badly fading bootleg copy like I am, I salute you. Now go out there and buy your own copy of the DVD. Remember the madness.

-- Paul Kermizian

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