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The Kentucky Fried Movie

Before they made "Airplane" and "The Naked Gun", David Zucker, Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams turned their irreverent stage show into THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE.

Friends since they were teenagers, The Zuckers and Abrahams had created the stage version in a tiny theater in LA.

Low budget, off the wall and sometimes off the rails, it became a massive hit.

I just finished reading their hilarious behind-the-scenes book, "Surely You Can't Be Serious", in which the three narrate the history of the stage show, their comedy troupe and how the success of the show led to "Airplane".

They approached John Landis to direct a movie adaption of their stage play and when he asked to see their screenplay, they replied , "What's that?" To say they were novices would greatly exaggerate their experience.

But they knew funny, barraging the screen with a rapid pace, non-stop series of shot and long form skits, all supposedly the airings of a local TV station.

Some of the best bits are still damn funny.

Long before Tarantino and Rodriguez created spoof trailers for "Grindhouse" the boys barraged us with them here. "Catholic School Girls in Trouble" is just an excuse to shoot a comedic take on soft core porn with hilariously earnest voiceover. "Cleopatra Schwartz" depicts a crime fighting duo of a Pam Grier like bad-ass and her Hassidic Jewish husband.

The long centerpiece of the movie is "A Fistful of Yen", a takeoff on Bruce Lee in "Enter the Dragon" that echoes Mike Meyers/Austin Powers with its shadow play, hilarious fights and vapid villains who love to explain their plans for mass destruction.

An out of control Gorilla in a newscast is played by famed make up artist Rick Baker, who would go on to create the effects for Landis' "An American Werewolf in London". Baker's gorilla seems to understand English and watching him go ape when they describe his inability to breed is hilarious.

George Lazenby (the one-time OO7 in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"), Donald Sutherland and Bill Bixby all make funny cameos and were listed as stars to help raise money from investors to finish the film.

No where near as funny as "Airplane", you can still see moments that would be honed into classic timing in the years ahead. The three boys clearly have an affinity for female nudity, making this an absolute go-to for every teenager in the late seventies on HBO, where it continued to gain a reputation as a cult classic.

When VHS became a thing, the film would turn into an early best seller in the new format.

At a tiny budget of only $650,000, it drove over $7 million at the box office.

The success of this film led to John Landis being hired to direct "National Lampoon's Animal House", just the first of his many huge hits.

Watch for Stephen Stucker, so hilarious as "Johnny", the control tower guy in "Airplane" as the stenographer in the black and white courtroom sequence.

Earning its R Rating in its brief 83 minute running time, the movie saves one of its funniest scenes for last, as newscasters watch a young couple making love and start looking into the camera to offer whoops and encouragement.

It's the kind of wall-breaking, go for broke humor that the Zuckers and Abrahams would eventually polish into Airplane three years later.

If you love "Airplane" read the book on how they made it named above, it's loaded with hilarious history and tidbits about the movie you'll love. I HIGHLY recommend the book. I listened to it an audible, which is even better as the boys and plenty of their actors read their own quotes.

As for KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE, it's spotty, sometimes funny, mostly goofy and very much of its time. I'll give it a C+.

Now, if you'd asked me in the late seventies, that grade would have been a LOT higher, watching it with my buddies on that fairly new thing called HBO!

Narrator: Never before has the beauty of the sexual act been so crassly exploited!


  • Pennington: These are the Hartz Mountains of Asia. A terrain so rugged, so treacherous, no country will claim it.

  • Asquith: Worse then Detroit?

  • Pennington: I'm afraid so.


A commercial spoof of a 70's Glade commercial:

[a woman is worried about the smell of her home as guests arrive]

  • 1st guest: Fish for dinner last night?

  • 2nd guest: Phewww... Harvey still smoking those cigars?

  • 3rd guest: CHRIST! Did a cow shit in here?

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