Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Kentucky Fried Movie

Go To

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

The Kentucky Fried Movie is a 1977 Sketch Comedy film, based on Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker's earlier work at the Kentucky Fried Theater and directed by John Landis. The film is affectionately remembered for a number of parodies and groundbreaking comedic styles.

It is a sketch comedy film consisting of parodies of various different film genres. 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; 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.


  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The song used in the opening and closing credits, "Carioca", is an actual recording from Jo Stafford and Paul Weston performing as "Jonathan and Darlene Edwards", who did a lot of intentionally off-key comedy records in the '50s and '60s. It wasn't written for the movie.
  • 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.
  • Badass Bookworm: The ultraorthodox Jew in Cleopatra Schwartz.
  • Advertisement:
  • 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.) and Nesson Oil (Wesson Oil).
  • 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" was largely untouched.
  • The Cameo
  • Carrying a Cake: Donald Sutherland's Clumsy Waiter does this schtick.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: Catholic High School Girls in Trouble
  • Courtroom Antic
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Film at 11 / Kent Brockman News
  • Fox News Liberal: Shelia Hamilton in Count Pointer Count
  • From Bad to Worse: The "Zinc" filmstrip sketch starts out with soap disappearing and ends with a woman's child shot, her husband dead of a heart attack, her car 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 film cost the filmmakers $10,000.
  • Homage
  • Housewife: A parody of educational films (specifically, "A Case of Spring Fever") features one tortured by an omnipotent narrator because she took zinc for granted.
  • 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 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. Broncowitz produces every movie with a trailer featured in the film... and actually shows up in the trailer for The Kentucky Fried Movie.
  • Salt and Pepper: Cleopatra Schwartz is married to an ultraorthodox Jew.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Cleopatra Schwartz.
  • 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.
  • They Fight Crime!: Cleopatra Schwartz and her Hasidic Jew husband.
  • Wall Bang Her: "Catholic High School Girls in Trouble"
  • 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 extended skit "A Fistful of Yen" (at 31 minutes, by far the longest sketch in the film) also features the following tropes:

  • 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 "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. Bong Soo Han 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 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 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!"
  • 555: Dr. Klahn's Atomic Detonator is behind a door that says "For Service Call Ada Gronik 555-0712" on it.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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!"
  • 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.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: