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Film / The Kentucky Fried Movie

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"It will knock your socks off."

"I'm not wearing any pants. Film at 11."

The Kentucky Fried Movie is a 1977 Sketch Comedy film directed by John Landis and written by Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker, based on their earlier work at the Kentucky Fried Theater. The film is affectionately remembered for its groundbreaking comedic style.

The film consists of a variety of sketches parodying different film genres. The segment "A Fistful of Yen" parodies Kung-fu movies of the style made famous by Bruce Lee, and takes up over a third of the film's 83-minute running time. None of the other segments are longer than six minutes: they include "A.M. Today", a satire of morning news; "Feel-a-Round", a satire of movie theater stunts like Smell-o-vision; "Zinc Oxide and You", spoofing '50s high school educational films; and "The Wonderful World of Sex", in which a couple uses a phonograph record sex manual.

Like all ZAZ works, parody is highly valued, and the fourth wall is almost nonexistent.note 

Not to be confused with Kentucky Fried Chicken, though obviously it was the source of the film's title (the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker comedy troupe was originally called Kernel [sic] Sanders' Kentucky Fried Theater).

The tropes you are reading have been vandalized. Film at eleven:

  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • The sex advice record's list of BIG JIM SLADE'S accomplishments: BIG JIM, former tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, is outfitted with various whips, chains, and a sexual appetite that will knock your socks off! BIG JIM has satisfied women throughout the world! And the capital of Nebraska is Lincoln!
    • Klahn's nefarious activities: opium, weapons traffic, assassination, motion picture distribution.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The nudity in "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble" and "11:00 News" were specifically calculated to get the film an R rating, so it could have the selling point of being more "adult" than TV sketch comedy.
  • Badass Bookworm: The ultraorthodox, Chasidic, Jew in Cleopatra Schwartz.
  • Battle Couple: Cleopatra Schwartz is firing away at enemies with a heavy machine gun.... and her husband is feeding the belt into the gun.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Implied in "Catholic High School Girls In Trouble"—the next scene after a nude woman gets hit in the rear with a pie, the same is done to a horse.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: The original "Big Jim Slade" skit in Kentucky Fried Theatre had Jerry Zucker playing the part with a comically huge Gag Penis. The film went a different route with stuntman Manny Perry in the role, who had been bodybuilding at the time.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The song played when Big Jim Slade bursts into the room is "Hevenu Shalom Aleichem", a Hebrew song used in the welcoming of people. So the soundtrack is literally welcoming him into the film.
  • Bland-Name Product: In various segments there are Willer (Miller) Beer, Barker (Parker) Brothers, "Feel-a-Round" (Sensurround), Nytex P.M. (Nyquil P.M.), Sanhedrin (Excedrin) and Nesson Oil (Wesson Oil).
  • Blatant Lies: The very first thing you see in the trailer is the white-stripe MPAA G card. As the trailer progresses, the film is revealed to be everything but G-rated.
  • Blaxploitation Parody: Cleopatra Schwartz.
  • Bowdlerise: There is an edited for TV version that aired frequently on USA Network back in The '90s and still shows up on Comedy Central sometimes. Of course, all the nudity in the 11:00 News sketch is edited out with pan and scan tricks, and "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble" is simply excised completely, even though credits for the sketch still show up at the end. Oddly, "The Wonderful World of Sex" is largely untouched.
  • Bread Milk Eggs Squick: The Household Odors sketch.
    1st Woman: Fish for dinner last night?
    2nd Woman: Phew! Harvey still smoking those cigars?
    3rd Woman: Christ! Did a cow shit in here?
  • The Cameo
  • Car Meets House: According to the narrator of "Zinc Oxide and You", without zinc oxide, the Housewife's car would have no emergency brakes. Cue the car crashing through the kitchen wall.
  • Carrying a Cake: Donald Sutherland's Clumsy Waiter does this schtick.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: Catholic High School Girls in Trouble.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: During the "High Adventure" segment the French adventurer and explorer Claude LeMond is interviewed on the title talk show. During the segment the interviewer's heart stops beating and LeMond restarts his heart by pounding on his chest a couple of times. The interviewer is revived and has no further problems.
  • Creator Cameo: Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker all have major roles in "Courtroom"—David Zucker is Sheldon Grunwald, Jim Abrahams is the on-camera announcer, and Jerry Zucker as The Beaver (literally). Beyond that, all three play the technicians in the final news sketch and David is the man in "His New Car", and they have a few other bit parts.
  • Creator Thumbprint: While it's soaked in the familiar comedic anarchy of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker, the gorilla in "AM Today" and the film in "Feel-Around" being called See You Next Wednesday are clearly John Landis inserting two of his own signature motifs into the film.
    • The character names Rex Kramer (the subject of "Danger Seekers") and Steven McCroskey (the on-camera announcer in "Courtroom") were famously re-used in Airplane!.note 
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: "Carol" in the "Feel-Around" sketch.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: "Courtroom".
  • Depraved Dwarf: Whips a bunch of topless girls while wearing a clown suit in the "Catholic High School Girls In Trouble" sketch.
  • Disaster Movie: Parodied in That's Armageddon!
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Two news anchors. See The Television Talks Back below.
  • Exact Words: Invoked in the "Catholic High School Girls In Trouble"
    Narrator: And introducing Susan Joyce and Nancy Reems...
    Third woman on couch: Nancy, this is Susan. Susan, this is Nancy.
  • Fan Disservice: Played for laughs during the "Catholic High School Girls In Trouble" sketch - but it does include a great deal of straight-up Fanservice too.
  • Fox News Liberal: Shelia Hamilton in Count Pointer Count.
  • From Bad to Worse: The "Zinc Oxide and You" filmstrip sketch starts out with soap disappearing and ends with a woman's child shot, her husband dead of a heart attack, her car's brakes nonfunctional, her house burning down, and the housewife short a limb or two.
  • Game Show Appearance: Not once, but twice. Dr. Klahn's guards get punished by playing The Dating Game in "A Fistful of Yen", and there's a quick version of What's My Line? in the courtroom scene.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: The use of this song in the "Courtroom" sketch cost the filmmakers $10,000.
  • Homage
  • Housewife: A parody of educational films (specifically, "A Case of Spring Fever") features one who gets tortured by an omnipotent narrator because she took zinc oxide for granted, so he takes away everything made possible by zinc oxide; by the end of the skit her kitchen is on fire, everything from a fire extinguisher to a bucket of sand to deal with it no longer exist, her husband and son are dead or dying from the former's pacemaker disappearing and the latter's gun no longer having a safety, her car has knocked down one of the walls because it doesn't have brakes anymore, and her false leg has fallen off.
  • Kent Brockman News: The opening skit and several interstitials feature some of the weirdest newscasters ever, including an announcer who announces a Film at 11 for everything from his apparent lack of pants to missiles heading for New York in the same bored deadpan.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: All about Big Jim Slade...
    Big Jim, former tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, is outfitted with various whips, chains, and a sexual appetite that will knock your socks off! Big Jim has satisfied women throughout the world, and the capital of Nebraska is Lincoln!
  • Mega-Corp: Argon Oil. "At Argon, we're working to keep your money."
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: John Fitzsimmons and Sheila Hamilton in Count Pointer Count, for James J. Kilpatrick and Shana Alexander ("Alexander"="Hamilton"), who were the participants in the "Point/Counterpoint" segment of 60 Minutes at the time. William Tregoe, who played Fitzsimmons, also played the Kilpatrick parody in Airplane! ("I say, let 'em crash!").
  • No Fourth Wall
  • N-Word Privileges: Spoofed aversion: Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker, plants himself in the middle of a group of African-American men playing dice in the street, shouts the word at the top of his lungs, and runs like hell.
  • Pants-Free: The quote at the top of this page is also at the top of this trope's page.
  • Pie in the Face: Inverted in Catholic High School Girls in Trouble; a woman's bare bottom is pied. So is a horse's rear flank immediately afterwards.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy
  • Real Trailer, Fake Movie: Catholic High School Girls in Trouble, That's Armageddon! and Cleopatra Schwartz. The DVD commentary reveals that the actress playing Cleopatra would take the job only if there was a contractual obligation that she would play the character in any full-length version of the material.
  • Retraux: "Courtroom", "Zinc Oxide and You"
  • Running Gag: Samuel L. Bronkowitz produces every movie with a trailer featured in the film... and actually shows up in the trailer for The Kentucky Fried Movie.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The movie theater patron, on finding out the second half of the "Feel-Around" double feature is Deep Throat.
  • Sex God: Big Jim Slade.
  • Shiksa Goddess: Cleopatra Schwartz is ostensibly a gentile African American woman (though she might have converted to Judaism to marry her husband) married to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man who studies the Torah religiously.
  • Sketch Comedy: Given that none of the segments other than "A Fistful of Yen" top six minutes, the film is closer to this trope than to Anthology Film.
  • Spiritual Successor: Many consider Amazon Women on the Moon, in part also directed by John Landis, and that reaches for the same style of irreverent humor, to be this.
  • Take That!: Makeup artist and occasional gorilla portrayer Rick Baker plays a grouchy, sexually impotent gorilla named Dino — named for Dino De Laurentiis, whose King Kong (1976) remake the previous year featured Baker as Kong. It was not a happy experience for Baker.
  • The Television Talks Back: A TV news anchorman on a live broadcast apparently sees, and is distracted by, a young couple making out in front of their living room TV. As the action becomes hotter and heavier, the anchorman is joined by his colleagues and the camera crew, who also watch the couple intently. By the time the couple is engaged in full-on intercourse, the crowd in the TV is cheering wildly at the spectacle.
  • Wall Bang Her: "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble"
  • White Bread and Black Brotha: Parodied in Cleopatra Schwarz: an overly violent and sexual blaxploitation Action Girl (a parody of Cleopatra Jones) is married to a Nice Jewish Boy who's clearly not cut out for violence at all—until it shows him helping her subdue bad guys and fire machine guns at gangbangers.
  • Who Shot JFK?: A commercial for Scot Free, a Fictional Board Game built around this topic, is shown.
  • World of Pun
    • As with many ZAZ films, much of the humour is pun-derived. The "Catholic High School Girls In Trouble" segment has the following gems: a woman seductively asks a man to "show me your nuts," and in response the man makes silly faces and hand puppets, demonstrating his lack of mental stability. Two pornographic actresses are said to be introduced in the film in the credits - and a third has them both greet and shake hands with each other while in the nude. "Linda Chambers" is to recreate her classic role - she does a pencil roll across the grass.
    • The courtroom scene alone has almost too many puns to list.
    "Allow me to check my briefs." *Opens waistband and looks at his underwear* "They're fine."
    • The "Fistful of Yen" sketch opens with a nuclear explosion on the Isle of Lucy. Also counts as a Brick Joke, since the attacks on New York and Moscow referenced earlier by the newscaster are said to be connected to this event in the sketch.

The extended skit "A Fistful of Yen" (at 31 minutes, by far the longest sketch in the film) also features the following tropes:

  • 555: Dr. Klahn's Atomic Detonator is behind a door that says "For Service Call Ada Gronik 555-0712" on it.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: After his fellow "contestants" are killed, Enormous Genitals immediately begins to praise and flatter Dr. Klahn. It works at first... but then he makes the mistake of saying they should "give [him] a big hand", hitting Dr. Klahn's Berserk Button concerning his prosthetic.
  • All Just a Dream
  • Angry Guard Dog: While sneaking around Dr. Klahn's headquarters Loo encounters a guard dog. After it barks at him he gives it a Dope Slap for not being convincing.
  • Anti-Hero: Loo takes the job because he would get the chance to kill lots of people.
  • Anything but That!: The would-be CIA infiltrator is taken to Detroit as punishment. He pleads for anything else.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Played for Laughs. The opening shot is of Manhattan with the subtitle reading "Hong Kong."
  • Asshole Victim: The spy who is sentenced to exile in Detroit by Dr. Klahn. There is a line to be drawn when it comes to insulting even the most evil villains, and calling Klahn a "slant-eyed, yellow bastard" was definitely crossing it. The spy had it coming.
  • Bilingual Bonus: There's a section in the beginning where Loo is signalling to Ada, Klahn is speaking Korean. Actor Han Bong Soo was asked to ad-lib some Korean, whatever he liked. Essentially, it's Han's ranting about how he's in a really silly film and the hardships of working in an American film industry.
    Klahn: (in Korean) "Say anything in Korean? Deplorable. Pathetic. If us Koreans would hear this they would call us insane. Still have to do it, no matter how it comes out. So hard to work in a film industry, in America. So pathetic, and this is not the first time. Anyways, sorry for Korean fans. Say anything in Korean... pathetic. Still have to do it, no matter how it comes out. (in English) Now bring me the prisoners."
  • Blood Knight: Loo agrees to infiltrate Dr. Klahn's operation after being told that he'll have the chance to kill "fifty, maybe sixty people".
  • Bluff the Eavesdropper: While in Dr. Klahn's headquarters, Loo is about to discuss escape plans with Ada Gronick when she shows him a listening device. They make polite conversation as she shows him the rest of the devices and spies.
    Ada Gronick: [speaking quietly] The guards will have to be bribed. We'll need money.
    Loo: We can raise the money, that's no problem. [Reaches up and pulls down an overhead microphone, speaks into it] But that would be wrong.
  • Brick Joke: The prisoners are Big Jim Slade!
  • Bring It: Butkus (Dr. Klahn's bodyguard) makes a beckoning gesture to Loo at the beginning of their fight.
  • Colour Coded Armies: Once the prisoners are freed and the big fight begins, the combatants are easily discerned as the bad guys are in white and the good guys are in black.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: A CIA infiltrator is sent to Detroit. He screams for mercy.
  • Dope Slap: Loo gives one to one of his martial arts students. Later he does it to an Angry Guard Dog.
  • Dragon Lady: Ming Chow plays this straight, except that she's played by the Swedish actress and model Agneta Eckemyr. She was the palest, blondest actress imaginable, presumably to parody white actresses in such roles often being made up in dubious yellowface.
  • Euphemism Buster: The three guards are Long Wang, Hung Well, and Enormous Genitals.
  • Fate Worse than Death, Place Worse Than Death, Cool and Unusual Punishment: "Take him to...Detroit!"
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: While The Dragon Butkus is fighting Loo, he smashes two bottles together in order to use the broken ends against Loo.
  • Groin Attack: During the big fight at the end Loo grabs a guard in a tender place and squeezes, causing the guard to have an anguished expression on his face.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy
    • Things guards can't hear include barking dogs, a broken vase, a bookshelf of broken vases...needless to say, it's lampshaded.
    • When facing their punishment, they are forced to play a version of The Dating Game.
  • Happy Fun Ball: "A toy robot!" note 
  • Improbable Weapon User: A bowler hat throwing range is seen.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: Several of increasing flagrancy (the last one is an actual human holding a large directional microphone).
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Dr. Klahn loses it when a spy calls him a "yellow bastard." It doesn't end well for the latter.
  • Neck Snap: Butkus does this to the three guard contestants in various ways in the The Dating Game parody.
  • Off with His Head!: Klahn beheads one prisoner, then has his body taken away to be tortured. Poor guy.
  • Oh, Crap!: Guard #3 right after he realizes his "let's give Dr. Klahn a big hand" faux pas.
  • Punny Name: Long Wang and Hung Well. Lampshaded by naming a third "Enormous Genitals".
  • Room 101: Dr. Klahn sentences a spy with the most evil punishment imaginable. "Take him to Detroit." "No! Not Detroit!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!'
  • Running Gag
    • "You have... our gratitude!"
    • "I am/You are a man of extraordinary magnitude."
  • Secret Message Wink: Parodied relentlessly. During Klahn's Korean speech at the fighters' orientation, Loo makes a series of winks and facial gyrations to his secret contact who stands about 30 feet away facing him at Klahn's side. There's no way such a display could be kept secret in a garden full of fighters and guards, but no one else sees it anyway.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Several members of Dr. Klahn's army are shown throwing hats at statues and knocking off pieces of them. This is a reference to Oddjob's use of his hat as a weapon in Goldfinger.
    • Two references to The Wizard of Oz.
      • During the fight between Loo and Dr. Klahn Loo splashes a bucket of water onto Klahn and he melts, saying "I'm melting, I'm melting".
      • The final scene is based on the "Dorothy wakes up after returning from Oz" scene. Loo is lying in bed wearing a wig with other characters from the segment gathered around him.
  • Swiss-Army Appendage: Hair dryer, flamethrower, sword, dildo, electric toothbrush...
  • That Came Out Wrong: "Let's give a big hand to Dr. Klahn!"
  • Tuckerization: Dr. Klahn was named for Dr. Richard Klahn, the principal at Shorewood High School in Wisconsin when the ZAZ team were students there.
  • Unexplained Recovery: When the prisoners are in their cells, they're all drunks and wastrels. The moment they are broken out, they become martial artists in excellent condition.
  • Visual Pun: "You're interested to see my operation". He lifts his shirt to show a surgical scar.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: To Enter the Dragon.
  • Yellow Peril: Played straight with Dr. Klahn.



Video Example(s):


A Fistful of Shadows

With so many plain white walls in Dr. Klahn's fortress, such a scene was inevitable.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / ShadowDiscretionShot

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