The Madison in Detroit – “Home of Martial Arts”, Spring 1984
Reading about the slow passing of Detroit’s Downtown theaters is both fascinating and sad at the same time. In a way, it’s cool to find out that The Grand Circus’ final film shown was actually Jailbait Babysitter, proving historians correct that a cool title was the one to close the doors until it’s resurrection as a concert place – although it should be noted that the listings showed that the triple bill with At Last At Last and Naked Rider only played through the weekend in that fateful final October week of 1978 – but it’s sad that a wild film lover like myself would have to sing “Born too Late” as I only wonder what it was like (possibly with only a few in the huge theater). The same goes for a lot of theaters from the day, including the Madison, which shut it’s doors circa Early 1985 with the showing of a bill that included the very appropriately titled Dead Zone, but it’s final chapter actually had some interesting moments. For a while,
During the Spring of 1984, following a “closed for remodeling” moment in July, 1983, and then a reported string of Horror films in Early 1984 (no film listings even mentioned them!) The Madison was The Home of Martial Arts, a genre that moved it’s popularity to VHS and some Saturday movie shows after The Fox decided to re-structure it’s film programs until a successful Rock and Roll show in 1981 featuring Chuck Berry sparked the idea to just turn the place into what’s known as the go-to theater for live shows today. While some screens in the Metro Detroit area had some Kung Fu Fighting on occasion, this was an attempt to bring back some of the Fox Fever that left the Downtown area in the Spring of 1981, but of course it was not going to last as the theater went to showing third run shows by the Summer.
In tribute to a bold business move, which may have had at least a few regulars (I’m guessing of course…although you can’t beat the sight of Bruce Lee, Bruce Li, or any of the other Bruce Fighting Crew on a big screen.
All dates are from 1984, and any add on titles will be added once I find them.
All titles listed as they were in the paper.
3/31 – Revenge of the Patriots/International Assassin/(one I have to seriously check back on – Death Agents? Damn my penmanship!)
4/6 – “Executioners of Death +2”
4/13 – Five Deadly Venoms/Instructors of Death/Dynasty of Blood
4/20 – Return of the Master Killers/Instructors of Death/Masters of Disaster
(The Friday ad said “Seven Grand Masters/The Hot, the Cool, and the Vicious coming soon)
5/4 – Spear Men of Death/Three Avengers/10 Tigers From Hong Kong
5/11 – Steel Edge of Revenge/Fighting Dragon vs. Deadly Tiger/Kung Fu Master Bruce Lee Style
(by the way, at the Maple 3, Suburbia was playing…just a little Punk Flick note here!)
5/18 – Bruce Lee, the Man the Myth/Dragon From Shaolin/They Call Me Bruce
5/25 – A Force of One/Shogun Assassin
6/1 – Soul Brothers of Kung Fu/Return of the Seven Grand Masters/Fists of Bruce Lee
After that, it was a round of well-known playable flicks in the next week with Firestarter/Nightmare in Blood playing. The 6/15 show was tasty – Zombie/Boogieman while there were plays of Savage Streets, Pieces (with Mortuary and Don’t Go in the Woods), and C.H.U.D. within the next couple of months. There was a slight return in September, 1984.
9/14 – Deadly Silver Ninja/Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger
9/21 – Ninja Mission/Evil Dead (hey, it played another great Horror flick at least!)
It all faded away very quietly with hardly any ads by the end of the year although Silent Night Deadly Night played 11/16 and 11/23. On 12/8, there was a mention of Mean Machine and One Down Two to Go before moving into the Dead Zone.