Tag Archives: John Landis

The Set of 400: #218 – My Favorite Feel-Around Theater

Today! Because I’m not wearing any pants – film at 11 –

The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

Directed by John Landis (x2)

Starring Donald Sutherland (x5), Henry Gibson (x2), Bill Bixby, George Lazenby, Victoria Carroll, Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Barry Dennen, Marilyn Joi, Tony Dow, Manny Perry, Stephen Stucker, Michael McManus (x2)

The earliest of the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker films – albeit one they didn’t direct, The Kentucky Fried Movie, just by the nature of the film, is hugely hit and miss. Instead of wrapping sight gags and shocking jokes around a plot – like Airplane!, Top Secret!, or Police Squad! – they got their start with an 83-minute bundle of movie and commercial parodies, surrounding the main feature concept “A Fistful of Yen,” which is the one bit that goes on far too long and delivers the lowest payoff.

But The Kentucky Fried Movie is more funny than not across its run time, and has always tickled me. I’ll admit – I’ve still never seen The Groove Tube, often credited with creating this feature length concept of a collection of sketches, so for me, KFM has always been the gold standard. From the wacky newscaster teasing the nightly broadcast – “Rams plagued by fumbles as earthquakes rock Los Angeles. Film at eleven.” – to the thrilling features of Samuel L. Bronkowitz – “If you were thrilled by The Towering Inferno, if you were terrified by Earthquake, Then you will be SCARED SHITLESS at the Samuel L. Bronkowitz production of That’s Armageddon!” – I’ve always really liked most of this movie, which I know is a weird endorsement.

The mark of quality!

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The Set of 400: #331 – My Favorite Punchable Child Character

Today! Because he’s got a chip on his shoulder the size of the national debt –

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Directed by Joe Dante, John Landis, George Miller, and Steven Spielberg

Starring Dan Aykroyd (x2), Albert Brooks (x2), Vic Morrow, John Larroquette (x2), Steven Williams, Scatman Crothers, Selma Diamond, Bill Quinn, Murray Matheson, Kathleen Quinlan, Dick Miller, John Lithgow, Donna Dixon, Burgess Meredith (x3), Abbe Lane, Bill Mumy, Nancy Cartwright, William Schallert, Patricia Barry, Kevin McCarthy, Jeremy Licht, Priscilla Pointer, Martin Garner, Helen Shaw, Charles Hallahan, Doug McGrath

A wildly uneven movie, which is to be expected considering the basis, the highs in Twilight Zone are pretty damn high, while the lows are only mediocre – this is a wall-to-wall watchable movie, even if on paper it seems like it shouldn’t have worked at all. Bringing in the high profile quartet of directors was certainly a good first step – with the only one I tend to skip being Dante’s “It’s a Good Life.” I don’t know, it’s not an episode I particularly enjoy either, so I’m not blaming the way they execute it, I’m just not a huge fan of that asshole kid. It’s pretty meh.

But the other three – pretty solid. The only original story of the group – the Landis directed “Time Out” is a bit heavy-handed, but effectively lead by Vic Morrow (famously killed on the set of this film, requiring a different ending to be concocted). Spielberg’s “Kick the Can” is schmaltzy, but has always been my favorite segment, with its sadly sentimental senior citizens getting one night to be young again. But clearly they saved the stand-out sequence for the finale, as George Miller’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” surpasses the episode it’s based on (the best episode they chose to adapt, too) and gets a dynamite performance from Lithgow as the tortured passenger, seeing a monster on the wing of the plane.

Lithgow is largely not doing well

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