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Quick reviews - "Knightriders" "Martin" "Kentucky Fried Movie"

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Quick reviews - "Knightriders" "Martin" "Kentucky Fried Movie"

Old 08-06-00, 01:34 AM
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If the things you liked best about the 70’s involved large breasted women, poorly dubbed kung-fu flicks, and copious amounts of weed, you probably already own and treasure some grainy copy of “The Kentucky Fried Movie” that you picked up for 5 bucks at Rite Aid, digging through your pockets for change so you could afford the Cheetos and 16oz. Mountain Dew to go with it. Well, for the cost of one lapdance you can re live the memories forever on DVD, and celebrate with a fatty as you join director John Landis and writers Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker of “Airplane” fame.
Priding themselves on inspiring “Saturday Night Live,” “KFM” is a madcap (yes, I said madcap) series of over-the-top skits with nothing in common other than their desperate desire to make you laugh, cringe, or throw things at your television. Thrill to the adventure of “Fistful of Yen,” an “Enter the Dragon” knock-off so close to the original plot that lawyers were called in to thumbwrestle. Jiggle with the antics of “Catholic High School Girls in Trouble.” Or hit the streets with “Cleopatra Schwartz,” the first Jewish Blaxploitation sensation.
This ain’t high art. This ain’t even low-brow comedy. It’s a film guaranteed to offend everyone. And even if the jokes are about as fresh as a day-old maxi pad (just gettin’ ya in the mood!), the hit-n-miss ratio still ends up in the plus column. To top it off, you get photos, home movies, bios, trailers, and a gang commentary by all those involved, which unfortunately veers into the “...remember that guy?” territory a few times too often.
If you have children, burn this movie and every copy of it you can find. If not, fire up the bong, and by the time it’s dry, I guarantee their won’t be a dry eye in the house.


A director with clout is a dangerous thing. Hot off the twin successes of “Dawn of the Dead” and “Creepshow,” George A. Romero set out to remove the “Kick me...I’m a horror director,” label slapped on his back by Hollywood. His response, “Knightriders,” has got to be one of the most bizarre, misguided, personal films ever made by man or madman. King Billy (played by a young, but still follically challenged Ed Harris) leads a troupe of motorcyclist/stuntmen/flowerchildren who stage medieval battles on their hogs to amuse pot-bellied locals. You might wanna back up and read that again just take make sure you’ve got it. To recap: I said medieval motorcyclists, in full armor, whacking the hell out of each other with chains, lances, and assorted knightly weapons. When approached by a slick entertainment type, the knightriders led by Morgan (effects man extraordinare, Tom Savini, who does a surprisingly good job), reject the “spiritual fix” of Billy’s macho mantra, and go for the money.
It’s a far cry from zombies, but Romero’s anti-consumerism themes hit full throttle when King Billy’s post-70’s Camelot begins to fall apart at the seams. And it wouldn’t take much of a stretch to imagine the situation as a mirror for Romero’s own filmmaking crossroads. While the message may be noble and just, the movie is so far removed from reality, it makes the undead seem like misunderstood flower children with the munchies. Even the visual style (guided by Romero all the way through the editing room) seems amateurishly choppy for a man on his 6th feature. But Romero cultists will devour the extras - commentary by the director, Savini, and assorted cast members, trailers, TV spots, and a hefty addendum of home movies. Depending on your state of mind, “Knightriders” is either the Excalibur of motorcycle camp...or a last ditch plea for the national helmet law.

“Martin,” on the other hand, is Romero working within his means, beyond the conventions, and sinking his teeth into the horror genre with startling verve. With a cast of nobodies and a grungy Pittsburgh locale, the film puts off a raw, yet supremely accomplished vibe that belies the best current indie hits. Artistically, it’s Romero’s most powerful film - showcasing his documentary roots and burgeoning storytelling prowess.
Martin himself is a slacker, with unwashed hair, faded jeans, and crooked teeth...who may or may not be an 85-year-old vampire. Taken in by his eccentric uncle, who’s convinced of his nephew’s “curse,” Martin attempts to adjust to suburban family life while repressing his urges to feed on the local steelmill sweeties. Unlike his caped contemporaries, Martin suffers none of the usual vampiric allergies (sunlight, garlic, etc.) and must drug his victims before bleeding them painlessly while they sleep. Romero stages these scenes with relish (particularly an attack gone awry with a cheating housewife), but trades most of the gore for tragi-comic overtones, creating in Martin his most 3-dimensional, sympathetic, misunderstood monster.
While the “Is he or isn’t he?” gimmick could easily grow long in the tooth, the film wisely sticks to street level, intermittently interrupting the action with flashbacks (Dreams? Nightmares?) of Martin’s vampiric heritage. John Amplas performance is stripped bare of all pretension, and just spooky enough to put the chills on you whenever he breaks out the needles. Presented in full-frame, with commentary from Romero, Amplas, and Tom Savini (who also acts), “Martin” is a true cult classic that deserves better than being wedged between zombie epics. Find it and treasure it.
Old 08-06-00, 02:51 AM
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I loved the commentary on Kentucky Fried Movie. They almost couldn't believe they were responsible for the thing.
Old 08-06-00, 08:24 PM
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God Bless 'The Kentucky Fried Movie'

With raunchy comedies making a comeback in the Year 2000 HERE is the grand-daddy of stupid exploitive juvenile humor movies. I couldn't believe when I first saw at the movies back in the late 70's and its still a GAS in the 21st Century.

An absolute classic and must own!


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