The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Extras: Commentary Track, Theatrical Trailer, Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery, On-Set Home Movies, Talent Bios
Credited as the impetus for the hit television show "Saturday Night Live, " "The Kentucky Fried Movie" is actually less of a movie than an assortment of irreverent skits and hilarious nonsense. It feels like an American version of Monty Pythons "Flying Circus, " and is sometimes (many times, actually) politically incorrect, over the top and doesn’t stop at anything. The filmmakers behind this subversively humorous film have long become legendary and have to be attributed for a giant number of laughs in this world, including films like "Airplane!" "Police Squad!" and "The Naked Gun." Director John Landis on the other hand has left his mark in Hollywood with movies such as "The Blues Brothers," or "An American Werewolf In London" and of course Michael Jackson’s award-winning "Thriller" video.
With all that in mind. Let’s take a good look at "The Kentucky Fried Movie," coming from Anchro Bay Entertainment. The film strings up an array of skits that range from a few seconds to almost 30 minutes in length each. The segments cover fictive TV commercials, made-up movie trailers, fake TV shows and anything in between. Especially "A Fistful Of Yen," a hilarious spoof on Bruce Lee’s "Enter The Dragon" among others, is the absolute highlight of the film. But also the bizarre "United Appeal For The Dead" is a memorable segment that you don’t want to miss. All in all, there are undoubtedly moments were some people feel offended by the material presented, but the bottom line of the film is, that this is just the work of a bunch of young filmmakers who wanted to have fun. And that they have, translating it inimitably to the screen with outrageous dialogues, nonsensical sketches and a bit of nudity.
The DVD release of the film that Anchor Bay Entertainment is presenting here may appear like a mixed bag at first. The image quality of the first minutes of the movie is washed out, lacking a lot of definition and has a very artificial look. However, one has to take into consideration that this movie was shot on a shoestring budget with equipment that in part offered quality below what you can buy as a home camcorder for under $1000. The result is a look for many segments of the movie that just don’t measure up with what you would expect today. Other parts of the film, segments like "A Fistful Of Yen" and some others look rather good however. So when watching this film, please keep in mind that most of the poor image quality has to be attributed to the original elements rather than Anchor Bay’s contributions to this DVD.
On the DVD specific side, I am happy to report that Anchor Bay transferred the material to the digital domain without introducing any additional artifacts. Despite the considerable grain that can be found in much of the footage, the DVD is virtually free of compression artifacts such as <$pixelation,pixelation>. A rather high bit rate has been chosen for the release to accommodate the increased flow of data in order to achieve a high quality presentation and it pays off in the final product. The DVD contains a <$PS,widescreen> presentation of the movie in a transfer that is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> television sets, giving especially the clean segments a very detailed look, as well as an <$OpenMatte,open matte> full screen transfer.
The disc contains a monaural <$DD,Dolby Digital> audio track. Given the overall production values of the film, it is hardly surprising that the audio, too, shows some deficits. Filled with a lot of background noise bleeding in from the set, the audio generally exhibits a rather limited frequency response and appears muffled and distorted.
"The Kentucky Fried Movie" contains a running length <$commentary,audio commentary> that is truly out-of-control. Featuring John Landis, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and Robert K. Weiss, this track is a treasure trove of anecdotes, silly recollections and fun. Since the movie practically marked the entry of all these people into the Hollywood landscape it is filled with hilarious recollections and stories, also using it to point out all the numerous cameo appearances of now-industry celebrities and the filmmakers themselves. Accompanied by a lot of hearty laughter, the track has a very intimate feeling, as if you were personal witness to a get-together of these people, overhearing their most intimate exchanges on the subject. A party-feel emanates from the track that contains some truly funny moments as well as embarrassments, and none of the participants is safe of the verbal attacks of the others. No stone remains unturned, so to say…
The disc also contains a trailer, a photo gallery, biographies and a home movie that some of the crew members took on the set of the movie "to prove to their parents that they were really working in Hollywood!" (I am not making this up, folks!) This home movie is adding just another layer of hilarity to the production, as it show the conditions under which the film as made. Although badly faded and in very poor shape, the footage is nonetheless highly entertaining and truly deserves a look.
While time hasn’t been good to the movie, Anchor Bay certainly has. Saving what is left from the low budget material of the movie, they have created a DVD that is leasing to watch and absolutely funny. It is easy to see from these segments that it must have been the inspiration to create "Saturday Night Live" and as such it is a very valuable and important milestone in the comedy field. Check out this DVD and make sure to listen in on the <$commentary,commentary track>. These people are having a blast, and it comes across!