KENTUCKY FRIED STREAMING: SHOUT FACTORY GENEROUSLY STREAMS 1970’s KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE, from the guys who brought you ANIMAL HOUSE and AIRPLANE!
THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE may stand as John Landis’ most amiable film. Not his best, which would still likely be THE BLUES BROTHERS or AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. I also have a soft spot in my heart for his vampire flick INNOCENT BLOOD, but I’m not particularly fond of ANIMAL HOUSE, which I find a little too self-satisfied and drawn-out, although it is a “classic” of sorts. The writers, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker, went on to do the genuine comedy classics Airplane, Top Secret, and The Naked Gun, so rest assured between them and Landis you’re in good comedy hands; if you think you’re gonna like KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE, watch it, because you will.
KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE was officially a product of the Kentucky Fried Theater, a college-based comedy group, and it plays like an issue of Mad magazine (or maybe Cracked), in its episodic effort to spoof various different film genres, TV shows, and commercials. Playing now like a bawdy, shot-on-film precursor to Saturday Night Live, the film still earns laughs, especially in its lengthiest segment, a kung-fu movie spoof entitled A Fistful of Yen.
“Cleopatra Schwartz,” a brief blackout sketch involving a romance between a black Pam-Grierish female hero and a Hasidic rabbi, is comical enough too, but it points out the limitations of this type of anything-for-a-laugh approach; much like the more recent Scary Movie series, KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE targets pop culture references that may have made it seem potent at the time but date it now. I imagine many younger than me won’t get the references to television courtroom dramas like Perry Mason and class-education films at all. Also disrespectful sexual humor was considered a lot more groundbreaking and revolutionary in the mid-70s than it is today.
Still, I’m grousing a bit too much; I laughed for sure upon rewatching it for the first time in thirty years this week, and like much cinema, it works as an interesting time-capsule of a different time. At under 90 minutes, it doesn’t really wear out its welcome, and guest bits by celebs like Donald Sutherland and short-lived James Bond George Lazenby are welcome. If you’ve never heard of either of those two, you may find yourself scratching your head throughout. But even then, there’s enough nudity you probably won’t nod off, and the good folks at Shout! Factory are streaming it for free, so why carp? KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE can be viewed here.
Want more classic VHS movies from Shout!? Check out the other offerings in the Shout! Factory VHS Vault.