Knightriders (1981) Poster

(1981)

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10/10
Quite an extraordinary film from George A. Romero....
GrigoryGirl24 January 2008
This, quite possibly, may be my favorite of Romero's films. I adore Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, but this one is quite special and is a complete surprise, even to Romero's hardcore fans. I remember renting it a while back because it was by Romero (and it is pretty long, 145 minutes, and I love long films). Many reviews simply stated that it was "a change of pace" for Romero, and yes, this is true, but they missed the depth and substance that this film has. It is Romero's most moving film, completely heartfelt and sincere, one that, should I say this, stirs the soul. Romero elicits incredibly naturalistic performances from his cast. It's made up of Romero regulars, including Ken Foree from Dawn of the Dead, and Tom Savini, makeup artist extraordinare and a surprisingly good actor here. It also stars a then unknown Ed Harris, who Romero discovered. Ed shows his intensity and power early on. You really feel like you're watching real people and their traveling show. Nothing feels phony, smug, or "ironic" here. The final 20 minutes is the most stirring thing that Romero has ever done (with the best scene in a school where Ed Harris gives his sword and helmet to a young school boy he met earlier in the film. The kid's performance is wonderful in a film filled with them). So, this film is much more than just a change of pace for George A. Romero. It's a deeply moving, sad film, one that should be appreciated not only for its change of pace (which Romero succeeds wildly), but for its deep, humanistic message. A wonderful piece of film-making....
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10/10
Arthurian legend comes to life.
trevorhart14 January 2002
The Arthurian legend comes to life. What we all hoped for in a utopian society devoid of comericialisation is here, shining through the darkest horizon of today's popular youth culture. The sheer romance and spirit of this film is remarkable, much like Romero's other works but in other ways completely different, the film brings hope to the disenchanted rather than adopting the usual cynical "we can't change anything so lets conform" attitude of today's society. King William (Ed Harris) is the founder and leader of a group of travelling knights, swapping the horses for motorcycles and allowing the public to get a glimpse on their way of life through jousting tournaments. Marred by the public's dependence on sex and violence the group find themselves crushed by commercial pressure. The audiences want to see blood, and the tragedy of it all lies in their ignorance to Billy's intense dream. it all starts to fall apart when they receive interest from big promoters and their potential as a sellable source of entertainment is recognised.

Romero truly shines through here and the only criticism I can possibly think of this near perfect film lies in the era it was filmed and set it. Had this film been made in the 70's it would have looked a lot better, or even in the 90's, however the 80's was awful for films in general and it comes as no surprise that this film was practically shelved. On the plus side it also proves that the 80's didn't just produce Friday the 13th movies, and that someone had an idea good enough to really make a film like this work.

Tom Savini, Gary Lahti, Amy Ingersoll, Chris Romero and in particular Brother Blue all give startling performances. The love and care that went into this film is outstanding.

However, I must stress ten-fold that if you want to see blood and guts, and don't really care for the dozens of underlying plot lines that revolve in this film to just watch something else. You have to be prepared to try to understand what Romero is trying to show us, and what the film meant in the relevant decade (and still mean today).

This is a truly amazing film that will make you laugh, cry and cheer. Its not only worth watching but is a keeper for sure.
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10/10
What a great movie!
hank6517 June 1999
Popular artists tend to be snidely dismissed from serious consideration, particularly if they consider serious issues within what is meant to be popular work. George Romero does this routinely. So, yes, the Living Dead films are popular horror movies, just out for a scare---but they also are an interesting portrait of the cracks in our social life. In "Knightriders," underneath the trappings of an adventure movie with lots of action (I'm still wondering how some of their stunt-riders survived) is a serious film about people trying to find an alternative to modern life. It is his finest film, I think, and sticks with you. I didn't always think so highly of the film--I liked it, but didn't consider it anything special, when I first saw it. Over the years since it's release, I've found it remains in my thoughts, and, having seen it several times since, I've noticed more in it every time. Beyond that, it is exciting, well-made, and Ed Harris is superb, though everyone has come to expect that of him.
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7/10
Potential Cult Classic
artzau17 July 2010
OK, besides Ed Harris and Tom Savini, who else is in this amazing biker film from the early 80s? Well, it doesn't really matter because sometimes things just come together in a way that transcends what the likely original intent was, to patch together a biker movie about jousting knights who engage in feudal combat from motorcycles instead of horses. Yep. The costumes are a bit cheesy, the acting is a bit raw and amateurish and the story..., ah, the story: The story is the Arthurian tragedy of innocence, self sacrifice, honor and unfaithfulness. The tale works around the triad of the King, the very young Ed Harris, the villain, the wonderful Tom Savini and the knight protector, Lancelot, Gary Lahti. Each of these figures represents an archetype which very likely unbeknown to the film makers and they come through wonderfully in the way in which this tale is patched together. Billy,as the King Arthur prototype is idealistic, uncompromising loyal to his own mythology and like the legendary Arthur, ego-less. His loyal knight retainer, Alan, is Lancelot in his nobility and loyalty to his sovereign while coveting his wife all the time. Savini is purely delightful as the Modred counterpart, even taking Morgan le Fay's name as a pun. Morgan covets the crown and tries to usurp it by going off only to discover his new realm is a forest of paper tigers. The final scene and resolution of the tragedy works wonderfully, giving a the only glimpse of the famous story-teller and raconteur, Brother Blue as the wizard, Merlin.

As an anthropologist and mythologist, I saw this tale back in the early 80s and was impressed how the underlying mythology of an essentially low budget film held together in such a wonderful way in spite of a few flaws. I consider it a cult classic.
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Highly recommended independent film.
uncapie16 February 2000
I saw this film when it first came out as a kid and just recently found an out-of-print video on it. The movie still holds up. The acting is quite good, especially Ed Harris, who stands out as the "King Arthur" leader, Billy. Tom Savinni did a good job during the scenes where he "sold out" his image. You could see the transition in his face, sans dialogue. Yes, it does need to be shortened by about twenty minutes, but overall its an enjoyable film with many underlying lessons to learn from. Two outstanding, bittersweet scenes are the "Lancelot" character having to return the woman that loves him back to her home and the transition at the end where Ed Harris gives a young boy, who hero worships him, his sword. The stunts are fantastic as well. Sit back with some popcorn and enjoy! Look for the cameo by Stephen King as the "Loudmouth Spectator."
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Fighting the Dragon
krasnegar5 February 2001
Sometimes it's too long.

Sometimes it's just right.

But even when i watch it and say -Yup, too long!- i can never decide what to cut.

I love to put this on for people who have never seen it and have no idea of what they're in for -- the careful arrangements, compositions and camerawork of the opening sequence, as the King and his Queen tarry a while in the (probably enchanted) woods, in the lovely golden sunlight, then dress themselves, he girds on his armor, he mounts his mighty steed (shot composed so that we see only his torso, the steed being out of shot at the bottom), she mounts side-saddle on the pillion...

And BARRROOOOMMMM!!!! that huge bike roars into life and the camera pulls back as we see them ride away...

It's almost as much of a jolt as the narrow-to-wide cut at the beginning of "Road Warrior"... and just as important to see (if possible) on a big screen the first time.

Kings and queens, knights and heroes; a wizard... even a faithful Indian companion; it's all here.

Action, adventure, humor, treachery and heroism -- all here.

Love and hate, jealousy and heart break? Present and accounted for.

Bad guys get theirs, hero vindicated in the end? What do you think?

And incredible, incredible action work. This film equals or even surpasses "The Road Warrior" in its motorcycle work. I'm still not sure if the final stunt is faked or whether they actually did it -- either way, my hat's off to the people who put it on the screen.

Ed Harris, as King Billy, whose vision forms the kingdom, whose unhealing wound signifies danger ahead, and whose malaise may well doom the kingdom, is brilliant.

Brother Blue as Merlin is indescribable -- but in a good context.

Patricia Tallman, who has gone on to a dual career as actress and stuntwoman (recurring on "Babylon 5" as telepath "Lita" and doing stunts in the film "Long Kiss Goodnight") has what i believe is her first screen appearance, playing a townie girl who is temporarily admitted into the kingdom's magic, but must eventually go home if only to tell the world what she's seen, is good...

Tom Savini as Morgan, the villain (hiss, boo) is Jes' Fine...

I have always described this film as the one film i know of that gets the closest to the truths that underlie the King Arthur legends...
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8/10
Natural feeling movie about traveling show
dkbuckley7 August 2004
Start with the idea of jousting like the knights did, but atop motorcycles instead. Turn that into a traveling show complete with rubber hammers and a Ren-Faire flair. Make this all the brainchild of a lunatic in love with making his fantasies reality, to the point of a hierarchy with him placed atop as king and a full code of conduct he demands his legion follow. The film starts with these pieces in place and proceeds to display them in turn. Of course, the drama is the day that everyone decides this is not such a cool thing anymore (note: not the same day for everyone!). And all directed by Mr. Dead himself George Romero. It is called KNIGHTRIDERS and there are no talking cars or Hasselhoffs within light years of this film. There is a natural feel to this movie, despite the qualms you might have with the premises. To me, this all seemed rather plausible and they chronicle people falling through the cracks of society and into this odd traveling counterculture. There is a great deal of moto-action, maybe too much. But even though you know these are stuntmen, they eat dirt hard, and you still think people got hurt knowing full well these are coordinated stunts. The jousts are meant to be realistic and they really go after one another and take real injuries in the world of the movie, unlike the traditional Ren-Faire show. Another realistic touch is that in order to drum up more attention, the show opens up to local bikers to try themselves hitting melons with jousts and axes. This of course is heaping bad idea upon bad idea – in terms of managing the show, adding more moto-action. I'm not sure if Romero has actors repeat scenes numerous times together or just has an eye for talent, but despite the cheesy lines and plots involved in this movie, the delivery presents itself as if the people truly believed. Not over the top drama, just natural delivery of the dialogue. There is very funny business in the movie, like the gay love plot, but there is definite good stuff too. I actually liked the depiction of the naïve girl who runs away from home to join the troup and her uncanny 'follow the leader' mentality I found again realistic. Ed Harris stars as the King and he has some really cool explosive scenes where he yells at everyone. One was totally awesome in particular and had me believe Harris was into the role more than anything at that moment in time and he really helped sell this movie to me. Toss in the best Stephen King cameo you will ever see and the package is a good one. The flaws are: 1) a little heavy on the motorcycles over and over 2) very long movie 3) very corny. The upsides are: 1) solid performances 2) natural feeling 3) chivalry & the knight theme 4) pretty good stunts That was my review to try and sell this film. I hope you check it out or have already. I liked it a whole ton, it captured my attention very well. It was in the cult section of my local movie store, not sure why. For the record, dudes do not ride around town pretending to be knights as I feared it might be, there's no monsters, it is a movie about bikers putting on shows and their sick circle of friends falling apart.
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10/10
Expecting Camp I Find Art
TimmyChurch7 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I really thought I was in store for some classic post-Punk mayhem a la Deathrace 2000 or Dead-End Drive-In (which are both fine movies) but instead I saw one of the best movies I've ever seen. Call me a sap but I had tears welling up in my eyes for the entire last forty minutes. Rarely does clarity of direction and story-telling go hand-in-hand with such an unusual movie. Excellent performances are derived from both the actorly and realist schools and even a little over-the-top style but the different kinds don't clash, they combine to make it a fuller, richer film altogether.

I had never really wondered what it would be like if Christopher Lee and Meadowlark Lemon had a son but now I know.

Beautiful camera-work and a truly human sympathy for even minor characters (Julie Dean on her porch, the Troubadour talking to King Billy) make all scenes watchable and invaluable.

This movie is humane and beautiful. A real treat. Odd as hell, to be sure, but remarkable.
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9/10
one of Romero's most ambitious films is a grand entertainment
Quinoa19845 August 2006
Knightriders does more than prove that George A. Romero, most known for his Living-Dead pictures, is really overall a great storyteller and developer of characters and, above all craftsman. But it also shows how a filmmaker can subvert a genre that is really hard to define (is there such a genre as medieval racing, as it doesn't really fit into the typical 'biker movie' mold either), while sticking to an ideal that is more old fashioned. Romero has an ensemble put together than could almost remind one of an Altman film, as if this was his Nashville. Yet in spirit I'm more reminded of a Howard Hawks film- a director who was an influence on Romero- in having a group of characters fitting an amusing, rousing adventure story where the old director's credo still stands- there's not much drama without action. What's even more surprising, or really what might come as more surprising to those who just stick to the Romero zombie movies if they happen to come across this, is the attention to characters, mood, and above all superlative craftsmanship.

Ed Harris plays a King-like role that, much as in a Hawks film, could have been played by John Wayne. Like a Wayne character Harris is set in a very specific mind frame (to the point, of course, of being stubborn and head-strong) that can hardly be changed, even if he is a nice guy once in a while through his tougher moments. And, indeed, sometimes his delusions of grandeur have to face up to reality past the fantasy. But unlike Wayne, Harris has a constant, unwavering appeal as an actor, who is constantly watchable even in a role that doesn't give him as much to do as in some of his more memorable parts. He's surrounded by actors who have made up many of Romero's other films- Tom Savini (who is quite good as an actor here, usually known for his great make-up), Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger, Christine Forrest, John Amplas, and Anthony Dileo Jr- and help back up his traveling troupe of medieval-times type of motorcycle riders, all who provide more or less very human characterizations. The story basically focuses on these guys and how the times seem to be catching up with them- and tempting some- away from the lower-end type spectacles for the locals. But, in the end, things get patched up and a 'for-themselves' tournament is launched to determine the new 'King'.

The film is not impervious to criticism. It's a little overlong (perhaps one too many a coda at the end, even as Billy's payback to the Deputy is one of the highlights of the film), and the usual social commentary that Romero strikes his hottest at is really, aside from the small bits of reality checks for the troupe, break down to the media being shallow and self-destructive by luring away Savini and some of the others. Such parts kind of seem weaker, and even for this kind of old-fashioned adventure/action story too conventional. Nevertheless there is so much in the film that is richly entertaining and interesting, with many little moments being some of the funniest in any Romero film (including some high flying bits, and a hysterical cameo from Stephen King), and touching ones to boot in the climax. On top of Knightriders being an excellent showcase for what a director like Romero can be capable of with different material that covers dramatic ground, is his technical prowess. Coming off of another ambitious picture, Dawn of the Dead, his editing chops are still tight as can be, and seeing the riding sequences is downright exhilarating. Romero's eye and timing with the storytelling in action- and knowing how to keep things breathtaking (as with Dawn) without becoming too chaotic- is really un-canny and one of the most underrated aspects of his whole career, of which this would be his last credited as.

Also accompanying the film is a sweet, pitch-perfect score by Donald A. Rubinstein (not credited the site) to the proceedings, and what pops out in the end of this epic tale of reality facing un-reality and the kinds of people to different degrees who stake their lives to such a cause and living. It's a near-masterpiece that is a nifty find if you come across it in your video store.
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5/10
I dunno, George...
Jonny_Numb7 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
...it seems like you do your best work when shuffling, flesh-craving reanimated corpses are involved. There's a reason the "Living Dead" tetralogy is the stuff of legend and Romero's 'side-projects' are mostly little-known footnotes within his career--while often artistically innovative and unconventional, efforts like "Monkey Shines," "Bruiser," and "Knightriders" are--at best--tonally uneven experiences. Here we have a modern-day Ren Faire tent community that travels from town to town, putting on jousting competitions (done on motorcycles, natch) and living the medieval lifestyle in a modern world. Romero uses this postmodernist fairy tale to frame a heavy-handed (and overlong) meditation on man's code of honor and what it takes to hang onto it in a world where everybody else is "selling out" to live a life of luxury (yes, an up-and-coming rock band could have easily been substituted for the Ren Faire). The film is ponderous at points (with many sledgehammer-obvious monologues), repetitive at others (while the jousting tournaments are a marvel of slick editing, they don't vary much), and the premise is treated so seriously that at times it's hard not to laugh (and granted, there is a lot of intentional humor as well). Despite all this, Romero's voice does come out in certain dialog scenes, and the production is wonderfully photographed by Michael Gornick; the performances vary (with a young Ed Harris all over the map), but Tom Savini shows some formidable chops as a potential traitor to the cause. The commentary on the 'knights'' displacement in a world given in to modernity meets an uneven end (blatantly ripping off "Easy Rider"), but "Knightriders" is an oddly transfixing--albeit inferior--piece of work.
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3/10
I just wanted it to end.
Specters12 February 2004
Not to say that I don't appreciate what Romero has done here; the themes of honor and chivalry definitely come through strong, but seriously, it all amounts to very little at the cost of a huge two and half hour price! Romero has always had a great talent for taking obscure situations and turning them deadly serious. I was waiting for Knightrider's to kick it into high gear, but it never happened. No shocks, little emotion and dull humor. Knightriders is not just Romero "light", it's calorie-free diet film making.
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9/10
It has soul.
markanderson5 November 2006
This movie pretty much rocks. The only problem with it is the extras. They remind me of the Toxic Avenger movie - very low class - but the main characters are awesome. Ed Harris totally has the Right Stuff and the mystical qualities of this movie are indescribable. Much like life itself, it strives for the moon and ends up with romantic nonsense and utter disarray. It is perfect.

It is a movie about a group of renaissance festival-type motorcycle jousters who confront the possibility of commercial success - at the expense of the altruistic round-table idealism that the group was founded on. The King Arthur of the group (Ed Harris) attempts to maintain his Puritanical hold on the group. His arch-rival (Sir Gallahad?) is the major antagonist and is a poster-child for commercialism. The end result is a cataclysm of Puritinism versus Commercialism that results in the most nihilistic nirvana that the human mind can imagine. For a romantic, it is pure gold - if you can get past the gimmicks.

I actually saw this movie on cable as a boy, and I loved it. Then I bought it on DVD as a grown up and still loved it, but I also noticed the low production-quality blemishes. The director's narrative kind of makes up for it though, because you get to understand how this movie got its magical aura.
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Flawed, but has rewarding moments
Wizard-818 October 2003
From what I gather, "Knightriders" didn't do very well at the box office when it was released. Upon watching it, it's easy to come up with plausible explanations for this. While the poster seemed to promise wall-to-wall action, there isn't that much of it, and what action there is often becomes monotonous. The movie tries to do so much that many of the plot threads feel unfinished at the end. And of course, the unbelievably long running time - 145 MINUTES!!!

Yet at the same time, I can't really call this a BAD movie - I would lean more to calling it "misguided". That's because as problem-filled the movie is, there are some good things about it. The actors give their characters a lot of heart - Brother Blue is especially good. (And I thought Savini actually wasn't bad in his role as well.) While the action scenes become monotonous, there are some impressive stunt sequences. The medieval-style music score fits like a glove. And there are some moments that are just *perfect*, the best being the opening sequence.

If you do watch it, I recommend that you split up your viewing into several sessions, so that you don't become too bored by how the movie keeps, well, spinning its wheels. There's a great movie hiding in there - perhaps with a lot of work (and a little magic), it might one day be successfully remade.
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2/10
Yikes! What a Mess
BrandtSponseller18 July 2007
I can see the potential here. Bikers engaging in medieval games on their hogs is a fun idea. So is an almost cult-like group organized around a charismatic leader posing as a king. In addition to the cult group dynamics, it allows an exploration of medieval social roles in a modern setting, including the reaction of outsiders to this strange group. Because they're on the road, we also have gypsy themes, allusions to Easy Rider, and even elements very similar to a rock 'n' roll band going crazy while touring.

But something went seriously wrong when it came to making those ideas into a film. It's a combination of things really:

* For much of Knightriders, there's really not much of a story. There are long scenes where all characters are in stasis. There are too many long scenes of the tournaments--too many because despite the impressiveness of the stunts, they're shot and edited so that all dramatic tension is lost. When more of a plot is attempted, it's not usually explained very well. Chunks of exposition seem to be missing. Characters come and go without much explanation. There are major characters who we never get to know anything about. There are times when the story becomes a bit more interesting and coherent, but they're few and far between, and all good will they engender is usually demolished in the next couple scenes.

* The editing is some of the worst work I've ever seen in a "major" film. A lot of scenes seem to be put together randomly, as if they literally threw shots into the air in the cutting room and reassembled them as they grabbed them.

* The acting is pretty uniformly awful. The only person I liked was Stephen King, and he only had a cameo for maybe 90 seconds total screen time. Ed Harris overacts ridiculously. Tom Savini is too often awkward. Romero apparently told everyone to play the film serious as a heart attack (only King didn't listen), and it has the effect of making every character annoying, as well as making an inherently absurd premise, with apparently insane characters, far too droll.

* Romero makes a ton of bad decisions here for cinematography. Poorly chosen, poorly framed shots are the norm. The few good shots stick out like a sore thumb because of this. It's a pretty ugly film. And for that matter, the costumes, props, "sets" and such tend to be ugly too. I don't mean that it should be "pretty" and "pleasant". Rather, it should have visual aesthetic merit appropriate to the subject matter rather than having all the appeal of a washed-out mid-70s low budget porno.

* The score is similarly ugly.

Knightriders almost makes Romero's Bruiser (2000) look good in comparison.
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10/10
Loss and Gain; Living and Dying
A_Minor_Blip3 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is a great film after the first time seeing it and then watching it twice. When you realize that the entire plot is about a man dying and coming to terms with the fact that his days, hours and minutes are numbered. When I first saw this, Ed Harris, although an excellent actor, annoyed me, but it really was his character, "Billy", who annoyed me since he was so melancholy and took himself so seriously and was such a primadonna to the other riders whom he was the chosen "King". But then I realized something; "Billy" is a man who knows he is basically dead (in a matter of speaking) (which fits being that it's a Romero film) and he must come to terms with letting go of his title, and his troupe. He is not trying to regain anything, which is what it seems like at first; he's trying to give it up gracefully. Tom Savini's "Black Knight" character is the opposite; he is very much alive and knows he won't die but he has to learn to not only humble himself, but to prove worthy of inheriting the king's title, not only through the motor-joust but through his attitude. It was nice to see a few "Dawn of the Dead" alumni, especially Scott H. Reiniger whose character "Roger" is one of the best horror films characters of all time, but we needed more of him. Some other actors came and went without much story but the main characters held everything together. This is an excellent movie, possibly one of the most underrated, and definitely the most ambitious movies ever, ever made. A true labor of love, it is one to watch again and again... because the more you see it, the more you'll get out of it. Watch for Stephen King in a very brief cameo as a hillbilly local who is watching the first jousting match in Bakersfield.
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Kind of strange
Blueghost15 October 2017
I'm not the best screenwriter in the world, and I've often wondered what the criteria is to get something financed and shot from a major studio. And even though I'm not the best writer, I think the concepts I have are solid. So, imagine my surprise when late night on HBO I see some film about a "bike gang" (of sorts) going around doing Chaucer.

The thing is meant to mimic and otherwise mirror social groups that have a leader. It's more social psychology, only dressed up with motorcycles and high middle ages armor and costume.

Me, personally, I could take it or leave it ... I chose to leave it. It's not a bad film, and in fact is quite professional looking. It's just an oddball film, probably based on some dude who had read Mallory or some such and, in fact, was the leader of a bike gang.

If nothing else it'll kill an hour and a half, but there are better films out there.
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7/10
This movie surprised me
brewwench7 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I took it upon myself to watch all of George's movies, although I will admit I've seen his trilogy hundreds of times. This movie started out strong, lagged a little in the middle, but completely sucked me back in at the end. The acting is sporadic, but I always found someone to like in each scene. Ed Harris' butt isn't too shabby, either.

The stunts were quite realistic, and I can't believe they actually walked away from some of them.

The cameo by Stephen King and his wife Tabitha was priceless - he plays his usual bumbling self.

I really started to enjoy the "young apprentice"?, but I never really understood how he became one of the troupe.

Okay, moment of truth - I cried at the final scene.

All in all, this was a good movie, and I'll add it to my collection.
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5/10
Only for Romero fans,and maybe not even then.
nakedmanwithgun19 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I'm going to give this a 5 because it's so freakin' twisted.(spoiler alerts ahead....)

I'm also going to be honest and admit that I've always thought Romero was incredibly overrated. His early zombie flicks are interesting to a point, but that's it. His later films,especially that godawful last one about the video cameras, are flat out terrible.

But this movie is just a big laughathon. I found this videotape in a $3 bin in some hole in the wall video store in Sacramento about 12 years ago.I still have it, and have even won a couple bets with it because no one can believe George made it. The acting is terrible, the subject matter is hilarious, and it looks like it was shot by my little brother.

If you like to watch incredibly ill advised movies, I say seek it out. It's a rockin good time. But in all sincerity, if you take it at face value, you need to to be evaluated. Put it this way: it's like "Fame," but with bikers with Camelot fixations. Too funny.(spoiler alert) It totally made sense to me when Billy committed suicide at the end.

I fully realize I sound like a snob, but frankly I could care less. This is the kind of crap that self important and delusional filmmakers like Romero make after taking their own press too seriously.
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An allegorical masterpiece
Phil-637 August 1999
Warning: Spoilers
George Romero has always, in one way or another, made allegorical films, and KNIGHTRIDERS is no exception. The film can easily be read as a metaphor of his own work as an independent filmmaker, with Harris' character functioning as his alter-ego. The knights symbolize Romero's actors, while those that work behind the scenes (the musicians, the dancers, those that repair the bikes or prepare the weapons) represent his technical team, and their way of life is exactly like the way Romero was making his films until '82. The death of Harris' character near the end of the movie echoes the death of Romero's independent filmmaking career: the following year, he started working with big studios with CREEPSHOW. Using many of the actors that appeared in his previous films, Romero crafts an intimate and extremely honest testament that can only grow in meaning on subsequent viewings. That KNIGHTRIDERS works as an adventure film is just the icing on the cake; what's under is what will really matter to the fan of Romero's cinema.
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2/10
Interesting idea completely wasted
Enchorde29 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Recap: It is a beautiful morning in the forest. The sun shines through the canopy. A naked couple wakes up. He prays by his sword and then slowly dons his armor while his lady dresses. Then both of them get on his motorcycle and rides to town. They're the king and queen of a travelling fair that recreates medieval joust using bikes instead of horses. Life at court might be less luxurious than it was in Camelot though.

Comments: The first scene is spectacular. Unfortunately it is the only good part of the movie. What seems like a very good and interesting idea, knights in modern world, is completely wasted. I expected action, chivalry, love and a few laughs as cultures collide. I saw none of this. The movie is full of jousting, true, but shown in such a way that it becomes dull and repetitive. After 15 minutes I actually felt that the movie had started to repeat itself and should consider moving towards an end. But no, by then it was over two hours(!) left, consisting of mostly pointless and dull scenes. There really are no real story, no progression in characters or plot, it is a extremely long portrait. So, don't be fooled by the cover, it is no action or adventure here.

2/10
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8/10
Wonderfully shot old-world movie
ravenus3 October 2004
KNIGHTRIDERS - George A. Romero

This is Living Dead fame director George Romero's tale of a modern day King Arthur, Billy (Ed Harris) and his band of jousting knights. The 'royal' rag-tag entourage, in nomadic fashion, makes its way from place to place, holding jousts. Only instead of horses, these knights ride motorcycles and Merlin is a practicing doctor (who likes to dress up as a shaman type). The story is about how Billy/King Arthur follows a strict moral code regarding the sanctity of the tournaments and vehemently opposes any form of corruption or commercial exploitation. This leads to differences with others from the tribe, principally the knight Morgan (Tom Savini), who at one point breaks off to form his own troop with the intention of attaining fame and fortune by his trade. But the effects of his brush with the material world disillusion Morgan and he returns to the old ways, in the end challenging Billy to honorable duel that will decide leadership of the knights.

It's a very simple and sentimental story, told with a lot of warmth and affection. There are certain caveats: the characters are archetypal, with only Billy and Morgan having any real shades and even these are not explored to any great extent. Given the length of the movie and its VERY leisurely pace, it calls for a certain amount of patience, without really rewarding you in terms of depth/complexity in the narrative. There are some pointless and obviously stretched out moments in the film, most notably after the final duel.

But the movie has some solid strengths, which in my view, effectively offset all its weaknesses. First off, it's likely Romero's most beautifully executed film, with really lush photography and careful splicing of scenes. He has taken a lot of pains to achieve the look of the film and the way he presents, it really gives off a certain old-world charm, a whiff of the times of chivalry and honor. In short, the movie looks AWESOME. The lives of the traveling knights are depicted in a very appealing and credible quasi-documentary fashion, even if the pace sometimes drags. All the actors do a likable job and help tremendously to accept the notion of theirs being an extended family. Special mention goes to Ed Harris and Tom Savini who do right in the principal roles. Hats off also to Donald Rubenstein who comes up with a beautiful medieval score that fits in perfectly with the ambiance of the film.
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Really surprised
MTree15 April 2002
The same person who turned me on to "Black Christmas" loaned me this little gem of a movie. It's highly original, well acted and written, and has some surprisingly good stuntwork. The story is great and there are some poignant scenes toward the end that just make you cheer. The ending is downbeat and uplifting at the same time. If you're looking for something enjoyably different in a movie, check this out.
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9/10
one of my favorite films
myfanwy-323 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
After going to see "Excalibur" with my brother and his friends, I was told "Next week we're going to see "Knightriders". I said "what's that?" and my brother told me "A George Romero film" and my first response was "Ick!"

I'm not a Romero fan (my brother is), so when this came out originally I almost didn't go see it. Then, during the intervening week I saw a single ad on TV for it and thought it was a King Arthur version, but on motorcycles, so I figured, what the heck (especially after "Excalibur" which was both good and bad, IMO).

I was stunned. I was completely blown away. I cried. I still cry, all these years later. I'm in the Society for Creative Anachronism (and yes, it was very loosely based on a real incident, and extrapolated very neatly by Romero without actually reporting it) and I tell everyone I know that they should see it, at least once.

Yes, it's a low-budget biker movie. But it has heart, and some great performances, and the soul of a poet. It says more about chivalry and honor and truth then anything else I have ever seen. I completely understood King Billy's motivations in trying to keep the others to his code, and in Morgan's initial rejection of them. The look on Morgan's face when he realizes that the crass commercialism of the promoter is completely against Billy's code, and that in spite of trying to rebel against that code it's what he (Morgan) really does want after all -- that's priceless.
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9/10
Read between the symbolism
Lambertart23 August 2005
Why such a high score for an old low budget film? The best movies are the ones that actually have a story to tell. This one has several interwoven and all work on different levels. There is action for pure visceral entertainment. A morality tale for introspective reflection. Interesting vignettes to keep the viewer on their toes & a few fun surprises thrown in for good measure. Did I mention that there is a good story here also? This is the film in which I first discovered Ed Harris. His powerhouse performance alone is worth the price of popcorn. Then there is Brother Blue. When was the last time a movie made you FEEL something? Put this movie on your must watch list. Better yet on you must OWN list. I did. I do.
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8/10
Knightriders: Is honor important anymore?
daveb-2012 September 2000
Is honor important anymore? This strange movie follows an odd collection of people that want to live the mythical life of Camelot. The group exists here in the USA, out of place, and out of time. Their warriors joust on motorcycles instead of horses and of course there is romance amd intrigue. They live a nomadic life traveling from one fair to the next. This troupe is searching for a honorable life during modern times which of course makes it hard to find. A young Ed Harris does a great job in this flick. I have to admit that I was a young, motorcycle riding, Army NCO when this movie came out and was drawn to the motorcycle aspect. When I left the theater I was moved by their search for honor. Old fashion good verses evil. I enjoyed this movie even though it was a bit long.
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