Knightriders (1981)

Start with the idea of jousting like the knights did, but atop motorcycles instead. Turn that into a traveling show complete with rubber hammers and a Ren-Faire flair. Make this all the brainchild of a lunatic in love with making his fantasies reality, to the point of a hierarchy with him placed atop as king and a full code of conduct he demands his legion follow. The film starts with these pieces in place and proceeds to display them in turn. Of course, the drama is the day that everyone decides this is not such a cool thing anymore (note: not the same day for everyone!). And all directed by Mr. Dead himself George Romero. It is called KNIGHTRIDERS and there are no talking cars or Hasselhoffs within light years of this film. There is a natural feel to this movie, despite the qualms you might have with the premises. To me, this all seemed rather plausible and they chronicle people falling through the cracks of society and into this odd traveling counterculture. There is a great deal of moto-action, maybe too much. But even though you know these are stuntmen, they eat dirt hard, and you still think people got hurt knowing full well these are coordinated stunts. The jousts are meant to be realistic and they really go after one another and take real injuries in the world of the movie, unlike the traditional Ren-Faire show. Another realistic touch is that in order to drum up more attention, the show opens up to local bikers to try themselves hitting melons with jousts and axes. This of course is heaping bad idea upon bad idea – in terms of managing the show, adding more moto-action. I’m not sure if Romero has actors repeat scenes numerous times together or just has an eye for talent, but despite the cheesy lines and plots involved in this movie, the delivery presents itself as if the people truly believed. Not over the top drama, just natural delivery of the dialogue. There is very funny business in the movie, like the gay love plot, but there is definite good stuff too. I actually liked the depiction of the naïve girl who runs away from home to join the troup and her uncanny ‘follow the leader’ mentality I found again realistic. Ed Harris stars as the King and he has some really cool explosive scenes where he yells at everyone. One was totally awesome in particular and had me believe Harris was into the role more than anything at that moment in time and he really helped sell this movie to me. Toss in the best Stephen King cameo you will ever see and the package is a good one. The flaws are: 1) a little heavy on the motorcycles over and over 2) very long movie 3) very corny. The upsides are: 1) solid performances 2) natural feeling 3) chivalry & the knight theme 4) pretty good stunts That was my review to try and sell this film. I hope you check it out or have already. I liked it a whole ton, it captured my attention very well. It was in the cult section of my local movie store, not sure why. For the record, dudes do not ride around town pretending to be knights as I feared it might be, there’s no monsters, it is a movie about bikers putting on shows and their sick circle of friends falling apart.