- The Kentucky Fried Movie
The Kentucky Fried Movie
The Kentucky Fried Movie theatrical poster
Directed by John Landis Produced by Kim Jorgensen
Robert K. Weiss
Written by Jim Abrahams
Starring Bill Bixby
Evan C. Kim
Music by Igo Kantor Cinematography Robert E. Collins
Stephen M. Katz
Editing by George Folsey Jr. Distributed by United Film Distribution
Anchor Bay Entertainment (DVD)
Release date(s) August 10, 1977 Running time 90 min. Country United States Language English Budget $650,000 Box office $20,000,000 (Global) = $15,000,000 (USA) + $5,000,000 (Non-USA)
The Kentucky Fried Movie is an American comedy film, released in 1977 and directed by John Landis. The film's writers were the team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker. This same team would go on to write and direct Airplane!, Top Secret! and the Police Squad! television series and its film spinoffs, The Naked Gun films. The "feature presentation" portion of the film stars Evan C. Kim and hapkido Grand Master Bong Soo Han. Among the numerous cameo stars were George Lazenby, Bill Bixby, Tony Dow, Donald Sutherland, and the voice of Shadoe Stevens. According to David Zucker in the DVD commentary track, David Letterman auditioned for the role of the newscaster, but was not selected. The film also features many former members of The Groundlings theater, as well as some from The Second City.
This film is number 87 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies", and is considered, along with The Groove Tube, to be one of the original groundbreaking pioneer films of the entire spoof and mockumentary genres of film making that followed it. The Kentucky Fried Movie marked the first film appearances of a number of actors who later became famous as well as being the vehicle that launched the careers of the Zucker brothers, Abrahams and Landis. It was Landis' work on this film that was largely responsible for him being recommended to direct National Lampoon's Animal House in 1978.
David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams made the rounds of the Hollywood studios and were rejected by all of them, being told that "audiences didn't like movies composed of sketches." Since the three believed in their material, which they had honed in front of the audiences in their 140-seat improvisational troupe billed as Kentucky Fried Theater, they decided to make the movie on their own.
A wealthy real estate investor offered to finance the film if they would write a script. After completion of the screenplay, the investor had second thoughts and decided he did not want to finance the film alone. He said he would try to attract other investors if the three filmmakers would produce a ten-minute excerpt of the film, which he would finance. However, when the trio presented a budget of the short film to the investor, he backed out.
However, the prospect of shooting the short film so excited the trio that they decided to pay for it themselves. The ten-minute film cost $35,000, and with it they again approached the Hollywood studios. This time they attached young director John Landis to the project. However, once again, the studios turned them down.
Curious as to how audiences would react to their film, they persuaded exhibitor Kim Jorgenson to show it before one of his regularly scheduled movies. When Jorgenson saw the short, he "fell out of his seat laughing." He was so impressed that he offered to raise the money needed to make the full-length version. By having his fellow exhibitors screen the film before audiences in their theaters, he convinced them to put up the $650,000 budget. When released, Kentucky Fried Movie was a box-office success, returning domestic American rentals of $7.1 million.
The Kentucky Fried Movie has no unified plot, instead consisting of numerous parody sketches the most common target of which is exploitation films. A spoof of early kung-fu films (primarily Enter the Dragon) titled A Fistful of Yen in imitation of A Fistful of Dollars, is the film's "feature presentation" and longest segment. Parodies of disaster films (That's Armageddon), blaxplotation (Cleopatra Schwartz) and softcore porn/women-in-prison films (Catholic High School Girls in Trouble) are presented as "Coming Attraction" trailers. The sketch See You Next Wednesday mocks theater-based gimmicks like Sensurround by depicting a pornographic film presented in "Feel-A-Round", which involves an usher physically accosting the patron. The fictional films portrayed are all produced by "Samuel L. Bronkowitz" (a conflation of Samuel Bronston and Joseph L. Mankiewicz).
Other sketches spoof TV commercials, programs and news broadcasts, and classroom educational films.
The city of Detroit and its high crime rate are a running gag throughout the film, each reference jokingly portraying the city as a hell-on-Earth.
Some consider Amazon Women on the Moon to be a sequel to this movie, due to the similar style of the two films and John Landis' involvement as a director of a few sketches. Also because the 'feature' in Amazon Women On The Moon shows an opening credit as being a Samuel L. Bronkowitz production. This is also evident in the French title of the film The Cheeseburger Movie, while The Kentucky Fried Movie is The Hamburger Movie. Also, IMDB lists one of the film's working titles as "The Kentucky Fried Sequel."
The film's credits listed the sketches incorrectly, as the writers changed the order after the credits had been written. The following list is in the running order used in the film: Sketch Details
- 11 O'Clock News (Part 1) (:04)
- Argon Oil (1:13)
- A.M. Today (6:05)
- His New Car (:24)
- Catholic High School Girls In Trouble (2:00)
- See You Next Wednesday in Feel-A-Round (4:52)
- Nytex P.M. (:35)
- High Adventure (3:01)
- 11 O'Clock News (Part 2) (:05)
- Headache Clinic (:40)
- Household Odors (:40)
- The Wonderful World of Sex (4:55)
- A Fistful of Yen (31:34)
- Willer Beer (:58)
- 11 O'Clock News (Part 3) (:05)
- Scot Free (:58)
- That’s Armageddon (2:17)
- United Appeal For the Dead (1:42)
- "Courtroom" (Part 1) (4:35)
- Nesson Oil (:14)
- "Courtroom" (Part 2) (3:02)
- Cleopatra Schwartz (1:24)
- Zinc Oxide and You (1:59)
- "Danger Seekers" (1:02)
- Eyewitness News (4:24)
- 11 O'Clock News (Part 4) (:09)
11 O'Clock News (Part 1) (:04)
A news announcer tells the film's viewers the popcorn they are eating has been pissed in...Film at 11.
Argon Oil (1:13)
A.M. Today (6:05)
A news correspondent, unable to hear the announcers, is busy scratching his butt and picking his nose on-camera. A studio debate between a conservative and liberal pundit leads to obscenity. The show's astrologer reminds us that astrology is just meant to support people who can't take responsibility for their own lives. An animal segment introduces a "rare" hamster followed up by a gorilla (Rick Baker). The gorilla, who has been unable to mate, becomes progressively enraged by its female handler's explanations and suddenly tears off the handler's shirt. Studio hands try unsuccessfully to restrain the gorilla as it runs amok and smashes the camera.
His New Car (:24)
When a man enters a car, the alarm goes off. As he goes through a succession of actions (locking his door, buckling his seatbelt, and so on) the alarm changes in tone until he eventually reaches down and zips the zipper on his jeans. The alarm then stops.
Catholic High School Girls In Trouble (2:00)
A parody of sexploitation films. One highlight is nudist-like Catholic high school girls, who are later also chained and punished by the school while in the nude for breaking curfew. Another is Uschi Digard's large breasts first being zoomed in and felt by a guy, and later comically squashed against a shower door when he penetrates her from behind. Also, a rather shocked teenager interrupts his intercourse when he realizes it is actually his girlfriend's middle aged mother under the sheets. She claims people always mistake her for her teenage daughter. Another teenager learns in horror that masturbation has made his hands hairy.
(See You Next Wednesday in) Feel-A-Round (4:52)
A guy agrees to try out a cinema that literally illustrates its movies for its viewers. The usher takes the role of the on-screen female lover. As she asks her male lover to smell her perfume, the usher aggressively sprays the viewer with said perfume. It eventually proceeds to chest rubbing and then to a lovers' quarrel. The latter culminates with a knife to the throat but ends with a quick kiss. The cinema's announcer invites the guy to also stay over for the next film - Deep Throat. The viewer runs away screaming when he sees the wicked smile on the usher's face.
Nytex P.M. (:35)
A commercial for a drug that cures headaches by rendering the receiver unconscious.
High Adventure (3:01)
A talk show's boom operator finds the French adventurer guest boring, and causes troubles with his boom mike to both the guest and the host.
11 O'Clock News (Part 2) (:05)
Moscow is "in flames" and nuclear warheads are headed for New York...Film at 11.
Headache Clinic (:40)
A commercial shows how a clinic's scientists demonstrate their headache curing drug by pounding on people's heads. It is claimed the people are not affected by the pain.
Household Odors (:40)
A commercial for household deodorizer that claims if you do not buy it, people will humiliate you by telling you right in your face that your house stinks.
The Wonderful World of Sex (4:55)
An African American couple plays back a phonograph record of a how-to guide for sex. After disrobing to their underwear, the overly detailed record eventually instructs them to kiss and begin foreplay. After the male experiences premature ejaculation, the recording sends "Big Jim Slade", a briefs-wearing, muscular, African American "tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs" to carry the woman away and finish up the job of her humiliated partner, backed by a vigorous choral rendition of the song "Shalom aleichem".
A Fistful of Yen (31:34)
One missile from the previously-announced (Film at 11) dual Russia-US attack is revealed to be Chinese made. However, the Chinese government denies any involvement. Soon enough, the mastermind behind the attack turns out to be a Chinese Dark Lord named Dr. Klahn. In a parody of Kung Fu films, a Bruce Lee look-a-like is hired by the UK government (a-la James Bond) to penetrate the lord's mountain fortress and destroy him. The Bruce Lee character refuses at first to work for a government, but happily agrees once he is told he would get to kill dozens of people. The fortress is so organized it even has its own guided tours for their storage of drugs and weapons of mass destruction. When he is discovered, he first defeats Dr. Klahn, then an absurd number of warriors who keep appearing in waves to infinity. Suddenly loud marching band music is heard, and Big Jim Slade from the "Wonderful World of Sex" sketch re-appears in his briefs. This time he frees the fortress' prisoners, who rush to engage in battle, and then he begins performing various bodybuilder poses. In a parody of The Wizard of Oz, the Bruce Lee character is sent back to Kansas after his victory and learns it may have all been a dream (or not).
Willer Beer (:58)
A beer commercial featuring Hare Krishna monks.
11 O'Clock News (Part 3) (:05)
All kinds of disasters happen in the US...Film at 11.
Scot Free (:58)
A commercial for a board game based on US president John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories.
That’s Armageddon (2:17)
A parody of the then-common disaster film genre, with "Donald Sutherland as the clumsy waiter".
United Appeal for the Dead (1:42)
A commercial for an association that supports keeping around corpses of dead people and still treating them like part of the family.
"Courtroom" (Part 1) (4:35)
A spoof of a courtroom trial that takes every word literally and runs like a game show while "The Beaver" (writer Jerry Zucker) and Wally Cleaver (Tony Dow, reprising his role from the original Leave It to Beaver) get into trouble in the jury stand.
Nesson Oil (:14)
A commercial for cooking oil in which a little girl is "cooking the cat in pure Nesson oil".
"Courtroom" (Part 2) (3:02)
Beaver and Wally continue to make trouble, while the trial's "surprise" witness recognizes the TV announcer himself as the offender in a car accident.
Cleopatra Schwartz (1:24)
A parody of blaxploitation films. A love and marriage story of a Pam Grier like character and a Rabbi. Despite their differences, they live a passionate life (highlighted by the couple sitting in bed with satisfied expressions, with her topless).
Zinc Oxide and You (1:59)
A parody of classroom educational films that shows what happens to a housewife who has everything that relies on zinc oxide disappear one by one, with increasingly undesirable results. Among other things, her bra disappears and her breasts instantly sag under her shirt. Also, her car crashes through her house as it has no brakes and her husband's pacemaker stops working. Eventually, the gas control valves on her stove disappear, her kitchen catches on fire, and everything that can stop the fire also disappears. Ends with a brief announcement of the next film in the series, "Rebuilding Your House".
"Danger Seekers" (1:02)
A parody of the 1973-1974 television series, Thrill Seekers. Part-time airline mechanic, full-time daredevil Rex Kramer vows to take on the most dangerous situations possible "for the sake of adventure." Rex walks into the middle of a group of African American men playing Cee-lo in an alley, screams a racial epithet, then flees as they angrily chase him.
Eyewitness News (4:24)
A couple stops watching the TV news in favor of having sex. In a parody of Nineteen Eighty-Four's two-way television, as soon as the man exposes the woman's rather large breasts, the TV news announcer starts stuttering. As the man performs cunnilingus on the woman, men from the production crew gather around the news announcer to gape and snicker between each other. They scream loudly when she reaches an orgasm, but the crew runs away in time when the suspicious couple stops and turns around to look at the television, with the news announcer quickly resuming his report. Assuming it was nothing, they resume having sex. This time the woman mounts the man. Almost immediately, the men from the production crew return to the news announcer. They all share a collective orgasm with the woman.
11 O'Clock News (Part 4) (:09)
The news announcer declares he does not wear any pants...Film at 11.
On July 4, 2011 Arrow Video in the United Kingdom released a 2-Disc Special Edition DVD, with the following Special Features:
- Feature presented in Widescreen 1.85:1 and Full Frame 1.33:1
- Original mono audio
- The audio recollections of director John Landis, writers Jerry Zucker, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and producer Robert K. Weiss
- A conversation with David and Jerry Zucker: A feature length interview with the co-creators of The Kentucky Fried Movie, Airplane and The Naked Gun about their lives and career, from growing up and starting out in show business to their comedy influences and spoofing Midnight Cowboy!
- Jerry Zucker’s on-set Home Video shot during the making of the movie
- Behind-the-scenes photo gallery
- Original Trailer
- 4 panel reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork
- Double-sided fold-out artwork poster
- Collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing on director John Landis by critic and author Calum Waddell
- ^ Nicole Cammorata and James Duffy (2006-07-25). "Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies of All Time". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/ae/movies/gallery/bravos_funniest/. Retrieved 2008-01-24.
- ^ Litwak, Mark (1986). Reel Power: The Struggle For Influence and Success in the New Hollywood. New York: William Morrow & Company. pp. 135. ISBN 0-688-04889-7.
- ^ a b c Litwak, p. 136
- ^ Thrill Seekers on IMDB.com
- The Kentucky Fried Movie at the Internet Movie Database
- The Kentucky Fried Movie at the TCM Movie Database
- The Kentucky Fried Movie at AllRovi
- The Kentucky Fried Movie at Rotten Tomatoes
- Frankin-Sterling Hill website, including "Zinc Oxide and You"
Films directed by John Landis 1970s 1980s 1990s 2010s
- Burke and Hare (2010)
Documentary Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker Collaborative works David Zucker films Jim Abrahams films Jerry Zucker films
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