Knightriders

George Romero’s modern-dress ‘Morte d’Arthur’ fuses medieval chivalry and post-’Easy Rider’ utopianism to glorious effect. Ed Harris is King Billy, head of a roving troupe of motorcycle stuntmen and rennaissance-fair re-enacters who travel America’s backroads entertaining the masses. Living by a strict code which combines old-fashioned chivalry and newfangled communal ideals, Billy and his merry band of brothers (plus a few sisters) eke out a living staging jousts, battles and games of skill, all on bike-back. But there’s trouble in the ranks, as a big-time promoter latches on to the group, convincing Morgan (Tom Savini) and his Black Knights to strike out for wealth and fame.

More than his movie-brat contemporaries, the fiercely independent Romero was influenced by documentary and DIY cinema, and there’s a refreshingly low-rent feel to all his best work. ‘Knightriders’ is no exception: the stunts look nailbitingly real, the characters feel raggedy and lived-in, and the film’s core message – that independence is paramount, that corporate America eats its young – is one close to Romero’s heart, with strong echoes of his own ‘Dawn of the Dead’. The result is a scrappy, overlong but enormously loveable film, featuring perhaps the most enticing, believable depiction of outsider living ever seen on screen, and a truly heartbreaking climax. Keep an eye out, too, for one of cinema’s great celebrity cameos, as Romero’s number one fan Stephen King turns up as an obnoxious, loudmouth slob.

Release details

Duration: 145 mins

Cast and crew

Director: George A Romero
Screenwriter: George A Romero
Cast: Ed Harris
Gary Lahti
Tom Savini
Amy Ingersoll
Patricia Tallman
Christine Forrest
Warner Shook
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