• Kentucky Fried Movie

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: July 2, 2013.
    Director: John Landis
    Cast: George Lazeny, Bill Bixby, Uschi Digard, Evan Kim, Bong Soo Han
    Year: 1977
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    The Movie:

    More of a collection of random sketches and vignettes than a linear narrative, 1977’s Kentucky Fried Movie is kind of a weird movie to review. Not that it isn’t a great piece (or collection of pieces, really) of comedy but because it’s so completely random. But let’s give it a shot.

    Directed by a young John Landis and written by David Zucker, Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, we start off with a fake newscast, the kind that feels eerily similar to SNL’s long running Weekend Update, before bouncing back and forth between spooking television shows, commercials and different movie genres. Some examples? A man goes in to see a movie filmed in ‘Feel-A-Round’ so that whenever something physical happens, it’s exacted out on him by the usher. The patron flees before the second feature starts to screen… Deep Throat. Zing! We see a trailer for Catholic Schoolgirls In Trouble, a pretty great sexploitation parody featuring the instantly recognizable Uschi Digard in a wonderfully compromising position. We also see what happens when a foxy black chick (Marilyn Joi) marries a Jewish man to fit crime in the trailer for Cleopatra Schwartz.

    Of course the most famous part of the movie is A Fistful Of Yen, a really well done parody of Enter The Dragon starring Evan Kim as the Bruce Lee character and Bong Soo Han as his nemesis. It’s the longest part of the movie, maybe a little too long really, but the filmmakers nail it. Kim does a great job aping Lee’s style and Han couldn’t have been better as ‘Dr. Klahn.’ Other stand outs include a fake trailer for That’s Armageddon, a great disaster movie parody starring ‘George Lazenby as… The Architect.’ We also get a news segment parody where a gorilla goes on a rampage, a hilarious bit where a black couple enjoy a sex record that comes with ‘Big Jim Slade’ included, and more.

    Most of the material here is strange enough to work, though like anything vignette based or anthology based like this, some moments work better than others. The drawn out Courtroom seen falls a bit flat as do some of the TV parody bits but the movie skewering is generally very well done. Those who enjoy ‘Zucker/Abrahams Brand’ comedy like their better known efforts – Airplane and The Naked Gun being prime examples – will probably get a kick out of this. It cares not for political correctness and gets surprisingly raunchy in spots. Though it’s very much a product of the seventies and somewhat dated in that regard, and fairly uneven and nonsensical, but it’s easy to laugh at. Landis generally controls the pacing well, a lot of amusing cameos are on screen to snicker at, and while it was all done under a very obviously low budget, but its honest and lowbrow humor still holds up well.


    Shout! Factory offers up Kentucky Fried Movie in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed in its proper 1.85.1 widescreen aspect ratio. You can’t really evaluate the video quality of this movie the way you might a more traditional feature as parts of it are meant to replicate seventies era television and therefore don’t look so great – the opening news cast and news casts that occur throughout the movie, for example (these were actually shot on video and it shows – take a look at the first screen cap). When the movie switches to film sourced material though, things look pretty good, though they do vary from one segment to the next. Generally, the SOV bits notwithstanding, detail is pretty good and definitely above what DVD was ever able to offer. There are no issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement nor is there any noise reduction, so those who like a healthy dose of film grain with their seventies cult films ought to be happy. You really can’t expect a screwy low budget picture like this to shine, but the new HD transfer is a nice upgrade from what we’ve seen before.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track on the disc is also fine for what it is. Sometimes things sound a little flat but the movie has always had that quality to it. As far as the mix itself goes, levels are well balanced and there are no issues with hiss or distortion to note. Dialogue is perfectly discernible and the score sounds alright. This isn’t a fancy mix, but it gets the job done and it suits the movie fine. Optional English closed captioning is also provided.

    The extras on the disc kick off with a commentary track featuring director John Landis, writers Jerry and David Zucker and Jim Abrahams and producer Robert Weiss. This track is sometimes almost as funny as the movie itself as the participants seem to have a blast strolling down memory lane and sharing some funny stories about the making of the movie and where a lot of the goofy ideas and concepts came from in the first place. Landis is refreshingly unapologetic about the movie’s merits, the Zuckers a little less so, but all involved get their share in edge wise and the end result is a very listenable track that mixes up the flow of humor and information in the right way.

    David And Jerry Zucker also show up for a sixty-two minute featurette that’s basically an extended interview session. Here the brothers who wrote the movie discuss the early days of their career, how and why Kentucky Fried Movie was born, how Landis came on board and more. This isn’t just KFM specific but actually covers later aspects of their careers as well. Like the commentary it’s a good mix of appreciable humor and interesting insight and definitely worth sitting through if you’re a fan of their work.

    Outside of that we get the movie’s original theatrical trailer, animated menus and chapter selection. All of the extras on the disc are presented in high definition.

    The Final Word:
    Kentucky Fried Movie is tasteless, juvenile low brow humor, sometimes at its best. The movie is uneven in spots but the good definitely outweighs the bad here. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray omits the home movies from the Anchor Bay DVD but offers up a nice upgrade in terms of audio and video quality and the movie itself is still a lot of good, raunchy fun.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. John Lyons's Avatar
      John Lyons -
      Some of the highlights are blown out, unfortunately.
    1. Nolando's Avatar
      Nolando -
      For this preview you have our gratitude.
    1. VinceP's Avatar
      VinceP -
      I was hoping for a Tara Strohmeier nudie shot...
    1. Scyther's Avatar
      Scyther -
      Seconded for some Strohmeier love. Probably lost count the amount of times I watched that scene!