Tour of the vintage Pinball City arcade in the 1980 movie Midnight Madness

Cavalcade Arcade

I love video arcades.  I always have.  I also loved it when arcades popped up in movies.  It was fun trying to pick out what games I could see and identify.  So, I thought it would be a fun exercise to pick some of my favorite movies that have an arcade scene and do a “walk through” to see what games we could see.  This should be interesting because video arcades during the the late 70s to mid 80s are ancient history.  There’s nothing really like them anymore.  These walk throughs should be nice snapshots of a moment in time at a video arcade during their hey day.  So let’s begin.

One of my favorite movies from childhood is the 1980 screwball road race comedy Midnight Madness.

Midnight Madness poster

The movie stars David Naughton, Stephen Furst, Eddie Deezen, Debra Clinger and a very young Michael J Fox as a group of college students split up into colored teams (yellow, blue, green, red and white) who go out on an all night long clue hunt.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is the arcade scene at a place called Pinball City.  It’s here the characters play a game that I thought was fake, called Star Fire. I’ve talked about this scene before.  You can watch that full scene here. Well, there’s a wealth of other awesomely vintage video games in that scene, so let’s start off this first walking tour with Pinball City from the movie Midnight Madness.

This movie was released in early 1980, which means it was probably filmed in mid-to-late 1979.

MM 008
This is the clue the players receive for the arcade. It essentially is a word game that tells them to go to PIN + BALL + SIT + E, or Pinball City.

MM 009
Here’s the entrance to Pinball City.

MM 010 Atari Football
Here’s the adorable Debra Clinger checking out an Atari Football game which was produced in 1979.  Behind her is a carnival shooter game called Shark Bait.  However, I could find no information on that game anywhere.  I can’t believe that this was created specifically for the movie to be used in a background shot when they didn’t even bother to do that for the Star Fire game.

MM 011 Indy 800
In the background of this scene is a giant game called Indy 800. It was manufactured by Kee Games in 1975. The game cabinet was huge and took up 16 feet of space.

MM 012 Death Race
Here’s a very young Michael J Fox leaning up against a Death Race game. It was manufactured by Exidy in 1976.  This game is based on and inspired by the movie Death Race 2000. There were only 500 or so made. When it came out it was banned in many cities due to its violent content.

MM 013
I’ve mentioned this game earlier. This is the infamous Star Fire game. The one I originally thought was fake and created specifically for this movie.  It wasn’t fake but was produced in 1980 by Exidy, who also did the Death Race game above.

MM 014 F-1
Take a look over young Michael J Fox’s left shoulder. That’s an F-1 racing game. It was produced by Atari/Namco in 1976.

MM 015 The Fonz
Here’s Debra again. Check over her left shoulder. That’s a motorcycle riding game called The Fonz. It was produced by Sega in 1976. And yes, it featured pics of Henry Winkler’s character from Happy Days.  I can’t get a good look at the game over her right shoulder.

MM 016
Oh, look at that, it’s Pee Wee Herman as the guy working at the arcade.

MM 017 Jet Rocket
If you glance behind Michael J Fox and Debra Clinger in this pic, you’ll see the marquee for a video game called Jet Rocket. It was produced by Sega in 1970.  There’s a machine to the left of Jet Rocket, but I can’t make it out in this picture.  Let’s try a different angle.

MM 018 Speed King
This is better.  Here you can see the Atari Football games from earlier. And, in the background is the Jet Rocket. This time, we get to see the machine next to the Jet Rocket game, it’s called Speed King and it was produced by Chicago Coin Manufacturing in 1974.

MM 019 Space Invaders
Here just over the nice lady’s right shoulder is a nice, vintage Space Invaders game. Produced by Midway in 1978.  It was one of the first EXTREMELY popular arcade games.

MM 021 Speed Freak
Here, next to the cowboy mannequin is another driving game called Speed Freak. It was produced by Vectorbeam in 1978.

There are an overly proportionate amount of driving games in this arcade.  Speed Freak, Speed King, Indy 800, F-1.  I guess that was the standard for the time.  This movie was released in February 1980, so it stands to reason that most of the games are from the late 70s. And it wouldn’t be until three or four months later that Pac-Man would be released in America and go on to change the face of arcade gaming forever.

Which makes this little arcade a nice snapshot of arcades pre-Pac-Man.

5 Responses to “Tour of the vintage Pinball City arcade in the 1980 movie Midnight Madness”

  1. dougmccoy38 Says:

    Awesome work.

  2. I love this movie, and this is an awesome idea for a series of posts. You should do more of these!

  3. awesome work guys!!!!!

  4. I’m still trying to figure out the location (or former location) of this arcade. Can’t find any info about it anywhere. Any ideas? I also want to find out about the location of the “Huge M” Miniature Golf course. Would it by chance be Golfland? But the castle seems much different than in the movie.

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