Friday, July 1, 2016

Knightriders *** (1981)

Few are familiar (including myself) with George Romero's work outside the zombie genre he invented with the 1968 horror film Night of the Living Dead (and way too many folks ripped off). Knightriders from 1981 takes an ingenious idea: a riff on Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court set in 1980s America. In a twist he reverses the roles in Knightriders: King Arthur himself is alienated with American culture. Ed Harris, in his first starring role, is perfectly believable as a modern day Arthurian hero. He leads a motorcycle gang who combine jousting with motorcycle racing.  Sounds like a crazy idea for a movie but it works. With a variety of colorful characters, Knightriders combines character study, mythological tropes, social satire, and amazing stunts. I have a soft spot for stories with characters who feel out of place in their time period and that's a big part of the charm of Knightriders.  It helps to overlook the flaws. The juxtaposition of the Knights regal culture with beer guzzling, sloppily dressed Americans says enough in itself (don't miss a cameo from Stephen King). A unique and entertaining film with plenty of surprises.

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