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KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE
DVD region 2. Arrow.

Kentucky Fried MovieIn 1977, John Landis – then a relative unknown with one low budget comedy to his name – teamed with Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker, who were running the Kentucky Fried Theater, a mix of live comedy and spoof TV commercials, to transfer their idea to the big screen. The resulting film rapidly became a cult hit and would propel its creators to bigger – though not always better things. It also spawned several imitators, resulting in a short-lived boom in sketch based comedy features inspired by this and the earlier, less immediately successful The Groove Tube.

Looked at today, the film is a rather mixed bag – perhaps something inevitable with a project of this nature. The good bits are still very good – the excellent spoof movie trailers (from ‘Samuel L. Bronkowitz’) than accurately capture the feel of exploitation movies while satirising them, the quick fire filler gags, spoof educational movie Zinc Oxide and You – while some other bits feel rather laboured – the overlong spoof of breakfast TV and the courtroom spoof for example. In the centre of the film is A Fistful of Yen, which now feels rather like a dry run for the Zuckers and Abrahams’ later movie spoofs like Airplane! And Police Squad! / Naked Gun. A (shortened) scene-for-scene spoof of Enter the Dragon, the film doesn’t have the fast-paced humour of those later films, but does hit at the absurdity and straight-faced satire to come. At almost thirty minutes, it’s a little long to appear in the middle of a film that is otherwise quick fire sketches, though it is the one part you’ll remember most vividly.

With guest appearances from the likes of George Lazenby, Bill Bixby, Marilyn Joi, Uschi Digard and Donald Sutherland, Rick Baker as a gorilla called Dino (this was a year after the King Kong remake, remember) and some gleefully gratuitous nudity, Kentucky Fried Movie is still a lot of fun, even if parts of it now seem rather dated and – thanks to imitators – overly familiar. Cult movie fans should find plenty to chortle at throughout this.

Arrow’s new DVD comes complete with interesting home movie footage shot by the Zuckers during the production, a rather less contemporary interview with the pair and a rather messy audio commentary. Viewers have the choice of a widescreen or full frame presentation – the latter offering a more accurate representation perhaps.

DAVID FLINT

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