Midnight Madness celebrates its 25th Anniversary at the Ryerson Theatre

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 11.34.51 AM

Midnight Madness programmer Colin Geddes. Photo by George Pimentel, WireImage/Getty for TIFF.

[M]idnight Madness, a uniquely horrifying and fun TIFF program, is celebrating its 25th anniversary at the Ryerson Theatre this September.

At Midnight Madness, when bloodthirsty fans are just starting out their day with films of their sweetest nightmares, the city is entering the sweetest of dreams. When the clock strikes midnight, the Ryerson Theatre rolls out the red carpet for international picks of horror and intrigue. Up to 1250 fans fill the once empty seats, jeering and passing around beach balls until the lights dim and monsters emerge.

However, one of the most distinct features of the program itself is the man behind the madness — TIFF’s International Programmer, Colin Geddes.

Geddes has been programming Midnight Madness since 1997. After co-programming Midnight Madness with film buff Noah Cowan, Geddes was given the position the following year.

When Geddes moved to Toronto for college, one of the first things he did was line up for a Midnight Madness screening in 1988.

“I made a lot of my first friends in Toronto in this line up,” Geddes says. “I kind of graduated from the audience to programming.”

The programmer got his start by curating his own fanzine titled Asian Eye, a publication about cinema in Hong Kong and Japan. The University of Toronto now uses his writing as course readings, Geddes told blogTO in an interview.

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 8.25.51 PM

Eli Roth premiered his first feature film Cabin Fever at Midnight Madness in 2002.

[M]idnight Madness kicks off this year with All Cheerleaders Die, a horror flick about an outsider’s revenge, which Geddes writes “[takes] the high school clique dynamics from Heathers and injecting them with a healthy dose of phantasmagorical hijinks.”

Midnight Madness is well known for its bloody, gory, and mind-bending films that don’t seem to fit anywhere else in the festival. Past lineups have included premieres of The ABCs of Death, Bubba Ho-Tep, A L’Interieur, and Saw – to name a few.

Geddes says he usually starts planning for each festival the day after the previous one ends. Traveling all over the world to view films, Geddes selects movies and brings them to the festival with the fans in mind.

Many of the fans, who Geddes often takes the time to know, trust the programmer’s choice for his reputable contribution to the festival and film in Toronto.

“[Colin is] sort of the reason why I go. I trust his taste, his picks,” says Vishnu Singh, an avid Midnight Madness fan. “It’s not like Midnight Madness is programmed by an anonymous board or committee. It’s definitely programmed and curated by one person and that has definitely has an impact on it. I know that’s why I go back and I’m sure that’s why other people go back too.”

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 8.45.42 PM

Borat had a highly talked about premiere at Midnight Madness in 2006. Photo by George Pimentel, WireImage/Getty for TIFF.

Singh has been attending Midnight Madness for eight years, successfully attending almost all of the midnight screenings.

“There’s something about seeing the films at midnight that’s sort of special,” Singh says. “It’s not like when you see the big Hollywood ones with the red carpet… It feels a bit more real.”

Midnight Madness kicks off tonight at 11:59 p.m. with All Cheerleaders Die at the Ryerson Theatre.