Thursday, March 16, 2017

Camp Latchkey: Midnight Madness


While kids on TV and movies (and possibly rich kids) spent their summers at summer camp, middle class kids often went to "Camp Latchkey" which took place in their very own living rooms! Don't open the door for anyone and NEVER use the stove or oven!

One of the activities at "Camp Latchkey" was movie time, which was often reliant on whatever the television programmers chose to air. Through much of the 1980's, it was HBO's programmers who would influence an entire generation's viewing habits. One film that would fail at the box office but gain a cult following through repeated viewings was Midnight Madness.


Midnight Madness was a Disney film, but due to its more risqué nature, the Disney name had been stripped from the film by jittery executives. Rather than the Animal House style film that Disney Studios thought it had, however, the film's risqué elements were so mild that the movie feels like the cinematic version of a youth pastor who thinks he's 'hip' and 'with it' because he uses curse words like 'dang' and 'heck'. 

The film is about an all night trivia game that takes its participants on a madcap journey around Southern California. Led by a skeevy 'game master' who inexplicably attracts the buxom duo of Candy and Sunshine to do his bidding, the various teams must compete against each other solely for the honor of being declared the winner. The film had all the elements that Camp Latchkey's campers would find appealing- young people who freely went on an overnight adventure, challenging the rules that dictated they stay safely at home and asleep, attractive ladies who would provide many a pre-teen boy his first crush and the feature film debut of a 1980's superstar who would find mega fame by the time the film went into heavy rotation on HBO- Michael J. Fox.


Years later the rise of the internet would make Camp Latchkey alumni realize that they weren't alone in their love of the film and Disney would eventually embrace the film, placing its name back on the print in its DVD release.