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Anchor Bay presents
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

"I'm not wearing any pants. Film at 11."
- Newscaster (Neil Thompson)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: June 14, 2000

Stars: Evan Kim, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, James Abrahams
Other Stars: Bill Bixby, Henry Gibson, Tony Dow, George Lazenby, Donald Sutherland
Director: John Landis

Manufacturer: Crest National
MPAA Rating: R for nudity, language, sexual references
Run Time: 01h:23m:18s
Release Date: June 20, 2000
UPC: 013131111798
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+BC B+

DVD Review

Maybe it's a Wisconsin thing. It seems like folks from America's Dairyland (this reviewer included) prefer their humor to be lewd, rude, crude and socially unacceptable. The Milwaukee-born unholy triumvirate of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker, who would later give the world Airplane! and the Naked Gun series, fully deliver on all of these counts in The Kentucky Fried Movie, which probably revels in the gross and obnoxious more than any of their later films. Be warned; John Landis in the commentary notes that if released today the MPAA would probably rate the film NC-17, since it is full of nudity and sexual references.

This film is to a large extent based upon sketches from the live show of Abrahams and the Zuckers, performed in The Kentucky Fried Theater (first in Madison, Wisconsin beginning in 1969, moving to LA in 1972). The sketches are almost all parodic in nature, taking on television commercials, newscasts and talk shows, as well as movies (all of which seem to be presented by the mythical Samuel L. Bronkowitz). The highlight of the picture is the lengthy A Fistful of Yen, an extended (32 minute) and complex satire of Enter the Dragon. This picture within the picture is convincingly brought off with hilarious details too numerous to count.

Clearly, the ZAZ group and second-time-director John Landis are feeling their way here; not everything is hilarious, but everything moves on to the next gag at incredible speed so that one never becomes bored with the proceedings. The cameos by Bill Bixby, Henry Gibson and Donald Sutherland are all amusing, and there is a zany courtroom drama which features Tony Dow in his classic role as Wally Cleaver (with Jerry Zucker rather than Jerry Mathers as the Beaver).

At the end, I only regretted that the film was so short. I could have stood quite a lot more.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: The image quality is quite variable. I expect that some of the television sequences were shot on videotape, since they have a very washed-out appearance which the film segments don't have. Those non-television segments are darker and have rich shadow detail. The color on Fistful of Yen is excellent throughout. No frame damage is visible, and grain is surprisingly minimal for such a low-budget film. Overall, Anchor Bay has made a very nice transfer out of rather dubious materials. The film didn't look this good when I saw it in the theater 22 years ago.

The widescreen version appears to merely be a matted version of the full-frame film; I didn't see any evidence of Panning & Scanning. The compositions work slightly better in the widescreen version but the difference is negligible.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio is a pedestrian DD 2.0 mono. The range is fairly minimal, which is not surprising in light of the low-budget nature of the film. There is very little in the way of music and effects, but these come across acceptably. This film is not exactly a candidate for a big reworking of the soundtrack. It'll do, but nothing to get excited about.

Audio Transfer Grade: C

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by John Landis, Producer Robert K. Weiss, Jerry Zucker, James Abrahams, David Zucker
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Home movies of the Zucker Bros. while filming the movie
  2. Behind-the-scenes stills
Extras Review: Anchor Bay gives us a boatload of extras, which is fitting for a cult classic such as this one. First and foremost is a full-length commentary by Landis, Abrahams and the Zuckers, and producer Robert K. Weiss. These guys are definitely having a good time watching the movie together and reminiscing; there is laughter almost all the way through the track. After a while that gets a bit irritating, and hurts the content of the commentary, thus lowering the grade from an A to a B+. It's definitely a worthwhile commentary, just not what it could have been. But I suppose that asking these guys for a little self-control would have been silly.

The Zuckers shot a fair amount of 8mm home movies on the set, apparently to prove to their parents that they really were making a movie. We get 18m:42s of these movies, primarily devoted to the shooting of the Zinc Oxide and You sequence and the trailer for Cleopatra Schwartz. These movies aren't too edifying, other than showing the enormous number of people standing around doing not very much on the movie set, waiting for the five or ten seconds between "Action" and "Cut." It would have been nice to have some context or commentary with these films.

We also get a generous sampling of 129 behind-the-scenes stills; again, they could have been improved with a brief caption (since they don't fill the screen) to let us know what it is we're looking at, if it isn't obvious.

The funniest extra is the G-rated trailer for the film, which satirizes the old Cecil B. DeMille-type of trailer where the producer would talk to the audience about the picture but not actually show much of the film itself. The producer here is, of course, Samuel L. Bronkowitz.

There are talent bios for Landis, Weiss and ZAZ, as well as extensive filmographies for each. The menu design on these is excellent, since one may go through the entire set just using the Enter button on your remote.

No subtitles are provided, which is irritating during the commentary, since the audio of the film can seldom be heard. While the chaptering is generous, Fistful of Yen is just one long chapter; this segment should have been broken up into several smaller chapters because it's rather difficult to find any favorite bit within it.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Those who like rude and crude humor will definitely want to have this disc in their library, since this is a very nice presentation of a genuine cult classic. The overly sensitive should probably steer clear.

 


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