: : : Knightriders

Story

After years of dominating the midnight circuit with the likes of Night of the Living Dead, Martin, and Dawn of the Dead, George A. Romero took a departure from bona fide horror films to make this naturalistic tale of a traveling troupe of motorcycle-riding jousters. (Think Hell's Angels on Wheels goes to the Renaissance Faire.) While this may sound ludicrous on the surface, the film emerges as a powerful character study. When the success of their jousting tournaments--in which armor-clad bikers go at each other with real lances for the entertainment of county fair crowds--attracts the attention of bigtime promoters, creeping commercialism threatens to spoil their delicately constructed Camelot. The troupe is a mirror of King Arthur's court, complete with its King (Ed Harris), Merlin (Brother Blue), and Morgan le Fay (Tom Savini). Only they ride motorcycles, and try to knock each other off with maces. Ed Harris turns in a topnotch performance as Billy, the focus of the film, who goes progressively nuts as it becomes apparent he's losing his grip on the troupe (unconsciously playing out the final days of Camelot). Knightriders is thoroughly engrossing during the jousting tournaments and whenever Ed Harris is onscreen, but is less successful in-between, when toeing the line of the Arthurian Legend makes the film too mannered. And at 145 minutes, the film could have been trimmed a bit. But why cavil when presented with the spectacle of Ed Harris spinning slowly out of control? Watch for a cameo by Stephen King himself, playing a spectator debunking the jousting tournaments as "all fake," through ample mouthfuls of his hoagie. --Jim Gay

DVD Features

  • Color
  • Widescreen

Cast

Ed HarrisBilly
Tom SaviniMorgan
Patricia TallmanJulie
Martin FerreroBontempi
Brother BlueMerlin
Ken ForeeLittle John
Stephen KingHoagie Man

  • Genre: Drama Movies
  • Director: George A. Romero
  • Producer: Anchor Bay
  • Length: 145 min
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
  • Theatrical Release
    North AmericaApr 10, 1981
  • Ratings
    North AmericaR
    Europe15
    AustraliaM
  • DVD Release
    North AmericaAug 19, 2003
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