A film directed by George A. Romero
and released in 1981. Knightriders
starred Ed Harris
, Tom Savini
, Gary Lahti
, and Amy Ingersoll
When I was seven or so, my friends and I who played in the neighborhood decided that we were going to become super-heroes. I don't mean that we decided that we were going to play like we were super-heroes - we decided that we were going to be super-heroes. If I remember correctly I was going to be the Green Lantern, even though I had no ring that created visualized mental constructs by the force of my will or no lantern to charge it up every 24 hours. If I remember correctly, my entire reason for wanting to be the Green Lantern was that I had a green turtleneck shirt. But this didn't change our earnest belief that we were going to be super-heroes, damn the obvious logistical issues that society and (quite honestly) reality threw in our way.
As cute as this is in a seven year old (and I would question whether or not that is cute), such pure flights of fancy in an adult are odd and a little disturbing. But none-the-less, George A. Romero (the director who brought us the seminal work on the shambling dead, Night of the Living Dead) brings us just such a cast of characters in 1981's Knightriders. A departure from his usual fare, Romero explores the Arthurian legend in his own interesting way adding motorcycles, the Society for Creative Anachronism, and corporate greed together with a copy of the Once and Future King and filming the result for nearly two hours.
Knightriders tells the story of a traveling troupe who seek to go back to the times of honor and chivalry by putting on jousts. This is the late 70's - early 80's so pretty much anything was better than sitting around the house, so people (including a cameo by Stephen King and his wife Tabitha) would come to see our troupe joust with non-lethal weapons. For a modern twist, the participants ride motorcycles and soon we have a budding Camelot on our hands lead by King William or Billy as he is often called played in an early role by Ed Harris. The group has their Lancelot (Gary Lahti), their Guinivere (Amy Ingersoll), and even a Merlin, played by an actor name Brother Blue, who looks exactly like his name sounds. Rounding out the group is Morgan, played by special effects master Tom Savini.
The movie follows their rise in popularity and then how the group fractures when their ideals are challenged by the pressures of popularity and the lure of money through corporate sponsership. Ultimately, movie comes down to a final duel between King Billy and Morgan for the heart and soul of the troupe, with the movie playing out in a very Arthurian way.
The movie became quite popular with the midnight movie crowd who were bored with The Rocky Horror Picture Show or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.