Kentucky Fried Movie is one of my favorite films of all time. It’s one of my wife’s least. She feels exactly the same way about this spiritual sequel, which is packed with tons of talent doing stupid things stuck in even more stupid situations. Blame the five different directors: Joe Dante, Carl Gottlieb, Peter Horton, John Landis and Robert K. Weiss.
The title of this movie refers to its film-within-a-film, which is a takeoff of the movies Queen of Outer Space, Cat-Women of the Moon, Fire Maidens from Outer Space and Forbidden Planet. The structure of the film is someone watching WIDB-TV (channel 8) as it plays the film, which stars Sybil Danning as the queen of the moon, along with volcanos and giant spiders. That alone is enough to make me love this movie.
Here’s how the movie breaks down:
Mondo Condo: John Landis directed this segment, which has Arsenio Hall having a bad day.
Pethouse Video: This segment, by Carl Gottlieb who wrote the first two Jaws movies, is often cut from TV airings. That’s because it’s wall to wall nudity, courtesy of Monique Gabrielle (who is also in Deathstalker II and Evil Toons). There’s also a version where she’s in lingerie.
Murray in Videoland: Robert K. Weiss co-created the show Sliders and convinced Landis and Ackroyd not to quit The Blues Brothers. Here, he directs as an old man’s new remote takes him through a series of shows. Look for Phil Hartman in this part!
Hospital: This Landis-directed segment is packed with stars, such as Michelle Pfieffer, Peter Horton and Grinnin Dunne.
Hairlooming: This Dante-helmed commercial has Joe Pantoliano in it!
Amazon Women on the Moon: The main segment of this film, this has Steve Forrest (the star of S.W.A.T. and Mommie Dearest‘s Greg Savitt), John Travolta’s older brother Joey, Lana Clarkson (Barbarian Queen and Phil Spector murder victim), the aforementioned Danning (who we can mention as many times as possible) and Forrest J. Ackerman as the President of the United States. If you’ve watched any 1950’s science fiction, you’ll get all of the jokes.
Blacks Without Soul: Three years before In Living Color, David Alan Grier plays Don ‘No Soul’ Simmons, a man who literally has no rhythm.
There’s also Two I.D.s with Rosanna Arquette and Steve Guttenberg, Bullshit or Not with Henry Silva, Critics’ Corner with Joe Dante favorite Belinda Balaski, Groundling Archie Hahn and LA radio personalities Barkley and Lohman, food commercial Silly Pate, the saga of the Video Pirates with Blacula himself, William Marshall and even a takeoff of the Invisible Man with Ed Begley, Jr.
I love the longer sequence where Rip Tayor, Jackie Vernon, Slappy White, Henny Youngman, Charlie Callas and Steve Allen roast the dearly departed Harvey Pitnik. Balaski shows back up, as does a young Bryan Cranston as a paramedic and Robert Picardo. If you notice that several of these names show up often in Joe Dante films, that’s because he was behind this part.
There are also spots for a French Ventriloquist’s Dummy with Dick Miller (again, Dante directing), an Art Sale, a commercial for First Lady of the Evening, the Titan condom company giving an award for the millionth customer (Ralph Bellamy is awesome in this, as is Howard Hesseman and Kelly Preston), a Video Date gone wrong between Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen from Superman and Marty’s older brother in the Back to the Future movies), Connie Wahl (wife of Ken and a noted Tarot card reader today) and a pre-fame Andrew “Dice” Clay (look for Russ Meyer as the video store owner) and finally, after the credits, there’s a health film about V.D. called Reckless Youth that stars noted character actor Herb Vigran, pro wrestler Mike Mazurki, Carrie Fisher and another man who may be the patron saint of our website, Paul Bartel.
I love this movie. I don’t care that critics — or my wife — hate it. I don’t care that some say that it’s the beginning of the end of Landis’ career. It makes me laugh out loud every single time that I watch it. What other movie would have video pirates steal a bunch of unreleased movies, one of them being Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind years before people discussed that movie or made documentaries about it?