Madd Men: 20 years after show ends, fan directs Madd Frank documentary
FARGO -- As a young child, Mike Bredon moved to Bemidji, Minn., in the mid-1980s. He was the new kid in school and didn't easily make new friends. Then he found one in the most unlikely of places. Through a late-night TV show airing 130 miles awa...
FARGO -- As a young child, Mike Bredon moved to Bemidji, Minn., in the mid-1980s. He was the new kid in school and didn't easily make new friends.
Then he found one in the most unlikely of places. Through a late-night TV show airing 130 miles away in Fargo, he was introduced to a creepy older man with a creaky voice, pasty complexion and a dark sense of humor.
"He was pretty much my first friend in Bemidji. I would spend Friday and Saturday nights watching Madd Frank," Bredon recalls from his home in Bemidji.
Now 34 (he celebrated his birthday on Monday), Bredon pays tribute to the ghoulish movie guide the best way he could: as the subject of the new documentary, "Madd Frank Presents Madd Frank," which screens at 7 and 9 Friday night at the Fargo Theatre.
Madd Frank (Delray Dvoracek) was a different kind of matinee idol. From '85 to '95, he dressed in a black suit, cape and wide-brimmed hat to introduce (not so) spooky movies on KVRR's "Madd Frank Presents." In breaks between the B movies, he and his motley crew of cohorts would entertain with skits and commentary, a few years before "Mystery Science Theatre" started spoofing bad movies.
"I never even read what the movie was. I just saw the title," Dvoracek says from his Fargo home. "I never saw the movie we were going to show."
He estimates that in 10 years, the Madd men filmed about 400 episodes, though Dvoracek himself is missing from some early ones. Shortly after the show started, he suffered a heart attack and sat out a handful of shows, with Martin Jonason, who played the sidekick Ichy Bodd filling in.
Other characters that surrounded Madd Frank -- Vanilla White (Judy Rae), Billy Jabber (Dave Prentice), Phil O'Dendron (Bill Flint) and the Madd Programmer (James Erickson) -- are featured in Bredon's movie and will be at Friday's screening, though not in costume.
Bredon says the oddball cast of characters and quirky sense of humor kept viewers tuned in to what were otherwise bad movies.
"That's the grand question, isn't it? How in the hell did they get people to stay tuned through those movies? That's the real testament to what they were doing. They were a perfect comedy troupe," he says.
While it ended up being a labor of love for the cast and crew, all involved thought they would be able to distribute "Madd Frank Presents."
"We thought we were going to get rich on this whole thing," Dvoracek says, explaining how he ultimately discovered the show was being aired in 40 states via satellite, but he never saw a penny from the re-broadcasts.
"I never made a dime on it. Not a dime. And we were hoping to make a couple of hundred thousand dollars," he recalls. "Everybody that came on every week, I gave them $15, and many times that came out of my own pocket."
Bredon knew there was still a fan base for Madd Frank, so, in 2014, he launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of raising $12,000 to finish the movie. In a month 163 people contributed a total of $12,280.
Bredon planned to have the film ready for the Fargo Film Festival last March, but finishing the project took longer than expected for the first-time feature director.
At about 80 minutes now, the film still isn't quite complete. Bredon and crew will be filming crowd scenes and reaction of the fans and actors Friday night, then editing that into the final cut of the film.
"Even if they don't like the film, I'm going to make them do a standing ovation," Bredon says with a laugh.
The real reward for the filmmaker, however, was meeting his TV friend in real life.
"I was taken aback about how genuine he is. Part of him is Madd Frank and you hear it come out sometimes," Bredon says. "He wasn't what I was expecting. He didn't have a cape on when I first met him, which I thought was strange."
If you go
What: "Madd Frank Presents Madd Frank"
When: 7 and 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway
Info: Tickets available at the door and at www.eventbrite.com
See related article on how the documentary got started: Midwest horror host haunts Bemidji pub; Fargo's Madd Frank working on documentary with UpStream TV.