Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Friday, June 25, 2010

'Knightriders' is a surprising Romero movie

Knightriders (1981)
Starring: Ed Harris, Gary Lahti, Tom Savini, Amy Ingersoll, Warner Shook, Patricia Tallman, Christine Forrest, Brother Blue, and Cynthia Adler
Director: George Romero
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Like so many movies I watch and review, I came to this one not knowing what to expect, but attracted to it by the DVD cover image of a mace-wielding knight in full armor on a motorcycle. It turned out that "Knightriders" is quite a different sort of film than what we usually expect to see when the name "George A. Romero" is in the credits.

There are no zombies or psycho killers in this film. Instead, what we have is the story of a traveling roadshow consisting of stunt motorbikers who travel the country putting on a renaissance fair that is set apart from the usual such shows by elaborate jousting matches on motorcycles. Even more unusual, these carnies have created their own utopian society where the model set by King Arthur's Camelot is what they aspire to and where ancient virtues and knightly honor are the order of the day. However, just like the real Camelot, corruption and greed soon threatens to destroy what they have created....

"Knightriders" is a film that deserves more attention that it's gotten over the years. It's supremely well acted--Ed Harris' performance as the "king" who struggles to keep his community together brings a fantastic emotional purity to the film, while Tom Savini's enigmatic Morgan (and chief challenger to the king's throne) brings a nice touch of counterbalancing darkness--features great music, and some really great cinematography. The bike stunts are also fantastic and one wonders how no one got killed on the shoot!

Although the film runs a little too much past what should have been its climax, it presents an engaging, subtle retelling of the classic Arthurian tale that, like its model, has a timeless quality that makes this film just as vibrant now as it was in 1981. It's worth checking out by lovers of Ren Fairs, Camelot-style romantic stories, and well-made, intelligent cinema.

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