Short Takes: K

The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

Producer: Robert K Weiss
Director: John Landis
Screenwriters: David Zucker, Jim Abrahams & Jerry Zucker

This is a comedy sketch film from the guys who brought you Airplane! And the humor is very much the same.

Psychotronic fans will find the film parodies most rewarding. They are all from producer Samuel L Bronkowitz. There are three trailers: Catholic High School Girls in Trouble (sexploitation), That’s Armageddon (disaster), and Cleopatra Schwartz (blaxploitation) about a black woman and a Jewish man who hook up and fight crime together. I would love to see that movie!

The high point is an Enter the Dragon parody, A Fistful of Yen. It’s only slightly more silly than its source material. And at a half-hour in length, it is the core of the film.

The film features Evan C Kim (The Dead Pool), Han Bong-soo (Force: Five), and a ton of cameos.

The Kentucky Fried Movie is under copyright. You can get it on DVD and on an expensive Blu-ray with interviews, making-of documentary, and a commentary with the writers, producer, and director. You can watch it for free on SHOUT! Factory TV.

16 May 2020

Kenny & Co (1976)

Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Don Coscarelli

12-year-old Kenny and his friends enjoy life while dealing with bullies and girls.

This film is mostly interesting because it’s kind of the ur-Phantasm. It’s missing the horror, but you can definitely see the same men-world outlook and the fascination with cool guy things like putting a dummy on a dark road to see what the cars will do.

Starring Dan McCann, A Michael Baldwin (Phantasm), Reggie Bannister (Phantasm II), Jeff Roth, and Ralph Richmond (Jim, the World’s Greatest).

Kenny & Co is under copyright. You can find it on an expensive DVD.

20 March 2020

Kid Vengeance (1977)

Producer: Menahem Golan
Director: Joseph Manduke
Screenwriters: Bud Robbins, James Telfer & Ken Globus (story: Ken Globus)
Alternative titles: Vengeance and many others

An outlaw gang murders a boy’s parents and takes his sister hostage. The boy seeks vengeance on the gang, eventually hooking up with a gold miner who was robbed by the gang.

Although known of as a Spaghetti Western, this film was made in Israel with a mostly American cast. All of it is dubbed. It has kind of a bad reputation even though it’s a pretty good revenge flick. In many ways, it’s like a homicidal My Side of the Mountain in the clever ways the kid metes out justice.

Starring teen idol Leif Garrett, football legend Jim Brown (The Dirty Dozen), and general legend Lee Van Cleef (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly). Featuring John Marley (The Godfather), Glynnis O’Connor (Ode to Billy Joe), and Matt Clark (Jeremiah Johnson).

Kid Vengeance is apparently in the public domain or at least there is a so-so copy of it on Archive.org. There is an Alpha Video DVD available.

Kill, Baby… Kill! (1966)

Producers: Nando Pisani and Luciano Catenacci
Director: Mario Bava
Screenwriters: Romano Migliorini & Roberto Natale & Mario Bava (story: Romano Migliorini & Roberto Natale)
Alternative titles: Operazione Paura, Curse of the Living Dead, Kill Baby Kill, Kill, Baby, Kill

A doctor is sent to a small town in the early 20th century to do an autopsy. There he finds most people afraid of a curse involving a dead seven-year-old who causes people to kill themselves. He attempts to save his local female assistant.

This is Mario Bava at his best. The film is beautifully Gothic with wonderful lighting and sets. The seven-year-old is really creepy and the the whole film just works really well.

Starring Giacomo Rossi Stuart (Sodom and Gomorrah), Erika Blanc (The Red Headed Corpse), Giovanna Galletti, Fabienne Dali (From the Orient with Fury), and Luciano Catenacci (Syndicate Sadists).

Kill, Baby… Kill! may be under copyright but there is a 4:3 cropped version available on Archive.org. There is a widescreen DVD and Blu-ray with a commentary by Bava biographer Tim Lucas, a 25-minute documentary, and a couple of other things. There’s also a region-free Arrow Blu-ray but you will have to get it as an import. As usual with Arrow, it comes with a ridiculous number of extras.

27 December 2020

The Killer (1989)

Producer: Tsui Hark
Director/Screenwriter: John Woo
Other titles: ????

This is probably John Woo’s greatest film. An assassin accidentally blinds a beautiful nightclub singer. He falls in love with her and takes a job to get the money to pay for her needed surgery. There is also a cop who is on the trail of the assassin. This results in a hilarious scene where the two men are fighting at her apartment while trying to avoid her knowing — a scene that is lovingly ripped off at the beginning of Kill Bill: Volume 1. Otherwise, it’s a great example of Woo’s skill as an action director. Chow Yun-fat and Danny Lee are in fine form. Sally Yeh is featured in pretty much her last film role.

There are two notable releases of the film. The first is by Criterion Collection. It has the advantage of being based on the original Chinese print. It also has a commentary track by John Woo. But his English is so bad that there is little content to it. Woo repeats himself endlessly, but it does have a few interesting bits. Its primary problem is that it is out of print and normally sells for upwards of twice its original price of $39.95.

A more recent release by Dragon Dynasty is a better choice. You can get it for less than $10 for a Blu-ray and DVD combo. It doesn’t have a commentary track, but it does have good deleted scenes. The copy is based on the American release, however — and is not of the highest quality. It includes an optional English-dubbed audio track.

Killer Fish (1979)

Producer: Alex Ponti
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Screenwriter: Michael Rogers

After a big heist, a group stores their haul in a lake to get later after the heat has died down. When two of the team members don’t want to wait, they find that there are piranha in the water. Once two of them get the jewels out, a storm comes in and they are stranded on a sinking boat.

Michael Weldon called this film “terrible.” This is probably due to his seeing it in the theater when there were a ton of similar films. But I think it’s fine although the epilogue isn’t terribly good. There is no doubt that it isn’t as good as Barracuda.

Starring Karen Black (Burnt Offerings), James Franciscus (Beneath the Planet of the Apes), Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man), Margaux Hemingway (They Call Me Bruce?), Marisa Berenson (Cabaret), Roy Brocksmith (Total Recall), and Gary Collins (The Night They Took Miss Beautiful).

Killer Fish is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

14 December 2020

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

Producers: Edward, Stephen & Charles Chiodo
Director: Stephen Chiodo
Screenwriters: Charles & Stephen Chiodo

This is the Looney Tunes of horror. A UFO in the form of a circus tent lands on Earth. Inside are clowns who go on a killing spree, putting their victims in cottoncandy-like sacks. Apparently, they just stopped by to eat. It has a couple of horror moments, but mostly, this is just played for laughs. And it pays off.

The film is a practical special effects tour de force. It even uses some very effective forced perspective. In addition to that, the screenplay is great — or the editor made it so. A very creative outing from top to bottom. It’s craazzy!

Featuring: Grant Cramer (Hardbodies), Suzanne Snyder (Weird Science), John Allen Nelson (Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell), and John Vernon (Animal House) playing Dean Wormer reincarnated as a cop.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with lots of extras.

Killer Nerd (1991)

Producers/Directors/Screenwriters: Mark Steven Bosko & Wayne Alan Harold

Nerd Harold Kunkle tries to be cool with a how-to cassette and a “hip” haircut. But still the other boys bully him and the girls continue to not fuck him. He snaps and then kills everyone.

Watching it in the context of the incel movement makes it harder given that Harold Kunkle is the embodiment of it. The women in the film are mostly pretty nice to him but they get treated as bad or worse than the guys. The film is shot in a very boring way (think early John Waters). And it’s edited very slow. It could easily have a half-hour cut from it. But it’s oddly compelling with a fascinating lead performance.

Starring Toby Radloff (Bride of Killer Nerd). The rest of the cast members haven’t really been in anything else but are rather better than I expect for an early micro-budget film.

Killer Nerd is under copyright. Troma has released it with Bride of Killer Nerd on DVD. It comes with a commentary track on both films with Radloff and Harold as well as a few minutes of interviews. I don’t recommend it. The less you know about Radloff the person, the easier it is to enjoy the films.

11 July 2020

Killer Piñata (2015)

Producer: Jennifer Kunkel
Director: Stephen Tramontana
Screenwriters: Stephen Tramontana & Megan Macmanus (idea: Nick Weeks)

The clerk at a piñata store is found dead having written “pina” on the floor in her own blood. But before the responsible piñata can be destroyed, it is sold to a family that pays for all the harm humans have inflicted on his compatriots at parties over the years.

If you thought Llamageddon was silly, watch out! But other than a bit of a slow third act, this film is pitch-perfect. I laughed throughout it. Be aware, however, that this film features a piñata biting off a man’s penis.

Starring Eliza-Jane Morris, Billy Chengary, Nate Bryan, Lindsay Ashcroft, and Daniel Hawkes.

Killer Piñata is under copyright. It is available on Amazon Prime.

12 November 2020

Killer Sofa (2019)

Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Bernie Rao
Alternative titles: My Lover, My Lazy Boy

A demonic recliner has the hots for its owner and gains power by killing other people. The police are on the trail of the killer of the bodies that are piling up. And a would-be rabbi is out to destroy it.

This is an extremely well-made film. But its humor is super dry — to the point where it’s hard to say that it is humor. It sounds very silly but it isn’t. Ultimately it isn’t a lot of fun. But it’s still worth watching.

Starring Piimio Mei, Nathalie Morris, Jim Baltaxe, Jed Brophy (The Dead Room), Stacey King, and Jordan Rivers. Harley Neville (I Survived a Zombie) has a small role.

Killer Sofa is under copyright. It is available on DVD.

18 August 2021

King Dinosaur (1955)

Producers: Al Zimbalist & Bert I Gordon
Director: Bert I Gordon
Screenwriter: Tom Gries (story: Bert I Gordon and Al Zimbalist)

A planet floats into the solar system and starts orbiting around the sun near Earth (like planets do). So we send 4 astronauts to check it out. It seems a lot like Earth but with some giant reptiles and insects.

This is Gordon’s first film as director. It really isn’t up to his later work. But the film was apparently a big hit and spawned a ton of imitators. It features well-used stock footage and has some good lines like when the geologist is asked what era the rocks are from and she replies, “Prehistoric!”

Starring William Bryant (Corvette Summer), Wanda Curtis, Douglas Henderson, and Patti Gallagher. It is narrated by Marvin Miller (Dead Reckoning).

King Dinosaur is probably under copyright. It is available on DVD with The Jungle (1952). You can find it in many other forms.

19 February 2021

King Kong (1976)

Producer: Dino De Laurentiis
Director: John Guillermin
Screenwriter: Lorenzo Semple Jr

A group of men goes to Skull Island to look for oil. Along the way, they save a woman from a sunk boat. The natives on the island kidnap her and marry her to a giant gorilla they worship.

As giant ape films go, this one is not at the top. But it’s still pretty good. You just need to get past the hype.

Starring Jeff Bridges (Tron), Jessica Lange (Tootsie), Charles Grodin (Midnight Run), John Randolph (Prizzi’s Honor), and René Auberjonois (Deep Space Nine).

King Kong is under copyright. (Hell, even the 1933 version is!) It is available on a very cheap DVD. It is also available on Blu-ray. Sadly, no one has bothered to create any extras. And the video quality in some of the night scenes is relatively poor.

9 February 2021

King Kung Fu (1976)

Producer: Bob Walterscheid
Director: Lance Hayes
Screenwriters: Lance & Pat Hayes (Pat mention on poster, not credits later added)

A very silly parody of King Kong and the Kung Fu television series. Even without the over-the-top direction, it would be a funny movie. It has an excellent script. The whole thing came out of Wichita State University and is professionally, if idiosyncratically, produced. It features the first film appearance of porn actor Lois Ayres while still a young teen. There are also a number of people who went on to have Wichita area film careers.

The film is under copyright. Unfortunately, the only DVD release I know of it is a DVD-R. Still, it is of sufficient quality, even if it is so badly cropped that some jokes are missing. (OLD HAGS stands for “Outraged Ladies Dedicated to Hiding Animals’ Great Shame.”) It’s definitely worth ten bucks. And it’s the kind of film you will want to share!

Kingdom of the Vampire (1990)

Producers: Scott P Plummer
Director: JR Bookwalter
Screenwriter: Matthew Jason Walsh (story: Bookwalter and Walsh)

Jeff is a vampire in his late teens who lives with his abusive mother. He takes up with a sweet young woman but his fundamental nature and the machinations of his mother stand in his way.

I can see why some don’t like this film. It is a bit slow. But I find it very compelling. And it’s got some very disturbing elements like Jeff’s sexual awakening.

Starring screenwriter Matthew Jason Walsh (The Sandman), Cherie Patry, and Shannon Doyle.

Kingdom of the Vampire is under copyright. You can get it on DVD along with Brett Kelly’s 2007 remake.

Kiss of the Damned (2012)

Producers: Jen Gatien & Alex Orlovsky
Director: Xan Cassavetes

A man falls in love with a vampire. She turns him into a vampire. They are having a great sexy sex time together. Then her unstable sister shows up and creates lots of conflict.

This is a really well-made film that is stylish and sexy. I’m not sure why it’s even about vampires though. It’s really just a melodrama. Much of the make-up is really good but generally not used for anything. The burning vampire is cool, though.

Starring Joséphine de La Baume, Milo Ventimiglia (Static), Roxane Mesquida (Rubber), Anna Mouglalis (Criminal Novel), and Michael Rapaport (Cop Land).

Kiss of the Damned is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with director’s commentary and some interviews.

24 April 2021

Knightriders (1981)

Producer: Richard P Rubinstein
Director: George Romero

A group of medieval cosplayers tour the country putting on jousts with motorcycles. But tensions rise as the “king” refuses to compromise to their mounting financial and legal problems.

A bizarre but strangely believable basis for a story. It’s well rendered but the theme is delivered with a sledgehammer and it’s over-long. It features some impressive stunt work.

Starring Ed Harris (A History of Violence), Brother Blue, Tom Savini (From Dusk Till Dawn), Gary Lahti, John Amplas (Martin), and Patricia Tallman (Night of the Living Dead). Stephen King has a small funny role.

Knightriders is copyrighted. It is available on DVD but cheaper on the SHOUT! Factory Blu-ray.

3 May 2021

Knights of Badassdom (2013)

Producers: Mark Burton, Matt Wall, and Kevin Dreyfuss
Director: Joe Lynch
Screenwriters: Kevin Dreyfuss & Matt Wall

Some Live Action Role-Playing (LARP) friends bring a recently dumped roommate to an event. All is going well: he’s enjoying the event and has met a new woman. But then things get real when a spell is accidentally uttered.

This is a charming and funny film with a great cast. But it leaves me unfulfilled. I want more but I can’t quite say what. Maybe more on-screen gore? It’s a pleasant hour and a half regardless.

Starring Ryan Kwanten (Dead Silence), Steve Zahn (Happy, Texas), Summer Glau (Firefly), and Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent). With Margarita Levieva (The Invisible) and Jimmi Simpson (Gravy).

Knights of Badassdom is under copyright. It is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and a combination Blu-ray and DVD version. They all come with some interviews and a Comic-Con panel from before the film’s release.

17 February 2020

Koko-di Koko-da (2019)

Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Johannes Nyholm

A couple that recently lost their young daughter camp overnight during a trip. A group of three unusual characters and their dog kill them. Then it all starts again and the couple tries to find their way out of a time loop they appear to be stuck in.

This is a really well-made and effective film. It’s also bizarre with animated sequences with grieving rabbit parents. It is one of those films that really stays with you and improves on reflection. It reminds me a bit of Possum.

Starring Leif Edlund, Ylva Gallon, and and musician Peter Belli.

Koko-di Koko-da is copyrighted. It isn’t available on disc in the US. It is available to rent and buy on Amazon Prime.

27 March 2021

Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975)

Producers: Cy Chermak, Paul Playdon
Directors: Don Weis, Allen Baron, Alexander Grasshoff, Don McDougall, and others
Screenwriters: Jeff Rice (creator), David Chase, Rudolph Borchert, and others
Our discussion:The Night Stalker Universe

Carl Kolchak is a reporter in Chicago who seems to find some kind of monster or other horror each week and the government doesn’t want you to know about it! For one reason or another, he never gets to run his stories.

This was the big TV show of my childhood and I was crushed when it was canceled. It’s still fun but the movies are better.

Starring Darren McGavin (The Night Strangler). Featuring Simon Oakland (Bullitt), Jack Grinnage, and Ruth McDevitt.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with no extras.

16 August 2020

Koreatown (2007)

Producers: Katie Adamides and Young Man Kang
Director/Screenwriter: Michael Kallio

After getting out of prison, a man goes looking for his daughter who is being held by the thug who killed his wife. It all leads to a pretty badass showdown.

This film was apparently made over the course of years. As a result, the plot doesn’t hang together as well as it might. Still, Kallio’s direction is as impressive as ever and the acting is first-rate.

Starring Tim Lovelace (Hatred of a Minute), Greg Dow (The Passage), Daz Crawford (Thor: Hammer of the Gods), and Joe Estevez (Soultaker).

Koreatown is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with a commentary, documentary, and deleted scenes.

Krippendorf’s Tribe (1998)

Producer: Larry Brezner
Director: Todd Holland
Screenwriter: Charlie Peters (novel: Frank Parkin)
Our review: Krippendorf’s Tribe

An anthropology professor loses his mind after his wife dies and forgets to do the research for a grant he has received. Rather than admit his error, he makes up a tribe based on his own life as a single father of three.

Critics hated this film so of course it’s worth watching. It’s very funny and completely in the tradition of the screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s. You know: the films these same critics rave about?

Starring Richard Dreyfuss (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg). Featuring Natasha Lyonne (Slums of Beverly Hills), Lily Tomlin (All of Me), and Stephen Root (NewsRadio).

Krippendorf’s Tribe is under copyright. It is available on DVD without even a trailer. It has never been released on Blu-ray.

Krull (1983)

Producer: Peter Yates
Director: Ron Silverman
Screenwriter: Stanford Sherman

In a fantasy realm, there’s a royal wedding and the prince and princess get married. But the army of The Beast attacks and take the princess hostage. The prince must overcome many obstacles while he puts together an army to save her.

This is a surprisingly good adventure film with a fine cast — especially in the supporting roles. I can see why it didn’t make money at the time. But it looks better from this vantage point. It’s almost completely devoid of irony, which is refreshing. One annoying thing: James Horner’s score sounds so much like what he made the year before for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Starring Kenneth Marshall, Lysette Anthony (Without a Clue), Freddie Jones (Firestarter), and David Battley (The Beiderbecke Tapes). Liam Neeson (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace) and Robbie Coltrane (Harry Potter) have small roles.

Krull is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and a less-expensive Blu-ray. It is also available on DVD with Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone.

26 March 2021

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