This is actually one episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? that I kind of wish could come true. Classic horror movie characters coming to life in a landmark cinema? Yes please.
This is Frank’s first story on screen since the first episode with “The Tale of the Phantom Cab”. And since this is a Frank story, Dr Vink makes an appearance. But first, Kiki and David make a bit of a scene over their tickets for Fright Night, the horror triple-feature at their cinema. Frank tells them that there’s no way he’d ever go back to Fright Night. If you sit too long in the theatre, you forget what’s real. Sometimes movies are so real, you can’t tell the difference.
“The Tale of the Midnight Madness” takes place in a cinema, just like Fright Night. It’s a run-down place with a lot of history and very few customers. But usher Pete is in love with The Rialto, and his co-worker Katie. The boy would do anything to save the cinema, which is jeopardy of being closed down.
Each day, Pete stands outside handing out fliers to save The Rialto and made it a landmark, but the attendance just goes down. All looks bleak when one night, Dr Vink arrives at the cinema.
The weird doctor tells Katie and Pete and their boss Mr Kristoph that he has a way to save The Rialto. He also claims to be a filmmaker and possesses a film of his that could bring the customers flocking back.
He tries to make a deal with Mr Kristoph: show the film one night a week and if it brings in customers, the Rialto will screen Mr Vink’s other films one night a week. Mr Vink says he won’t take any payment, so Mr Kristoph agrees.
Only the cinema workers all forget about the film, and it sits forgotten in the projection room. Weeks later, Mr Kristoph tells Katie and Pete that the Rialto will close in two weeks. Dejected, Pete continues with his shift when the film in the projector becomes ruined. The kids know they’ll have to refund the audience, but Pete suddenly remembers the film Mr Vink brought.
Katie offers the customers a full refund if they don’t like the other film they have, so the audience decides to stay and watch Mr Vink’s film. The film in the canister is an old black-and-white version of Nosferatu where the vampire wins in the end. The audience all love it and vow to return, none of them leave asking for a refund.
And after that, The Rialto’s sales begin to boom. Nosferatu becomes a hit and the midnight screenings (dubbed Midnight Madness) begin to sell out. The Rialto is seemingly saved, that is until Mr Vink returns to see that Mr Kristoph’s end of the bargain is upheld. Mr Kristoph denies Mr Vink his weekly showings, saying he has blockbuster movies to show now.
Mr Vink leaves, and things take a sinister turn in the cinema. While watching Nosferatu by himself one day, Pete dozes off but sees the vampire escape through the screen. He tells himself he dreamed it, and goes to tell Katie. But they soon discover that the vampire is very real and has bit Mr Kristoph.
Pete has an idea to lure the vampire back into the film by having Katie play it again. The boy leaps into the screen, coaxing the vampire to follow him into the movie. Pete defeats the vampire by pulling the curtain from the window, dosing the vampire in sunlight like the death of Petyr.
Pete and Katie celebrate their victory, and are joined by Mr Kristoph, who doesn’t remember anything about the incident. But their happiness is quickly ended when Mr Vink arrives again. He delivers the news that he’s bought the Rialto. He then informs them that he can show is movies every single night. Movies that are far better.
As Frank’s tale ends, the Midnight Society look a bit more than spooked. Kiki and David both agree to skip Fright Night, claiming to be tired. They gladly hand over their tickets to Frank, who then invites Gary to join him. Sneaky bitch at his best!
I loved, loved, loved “The Tale of the Midnight Madness”. It taps into the inner-child and the horror-lover. It’s fun like Monster Squad and many 80’s films. That’s because the episode walks that fine line between characters to root for and a delightfully frustrating ending. I loved Katie and Pete, especially them together. Even the adults managed to not be irritating.
Plus the make-up and effects is pretty great in this episode. The vampire looks fantastic. It’s a tale that’s really a show in it’s top form.
Highlight quotes of the episode:
“Let’s hug again!” – Pete, the world’s most adorable creep