Listen: I am a man of simple tastes, so when someone tells me that there is a movie out there that is entirely based around dudes jousting each other on dirt bikes, I am going to see that movie as soon as humanly possible. Turns out that movie does in fact exist: 1981's Knightriders, written and directed by George Romero. Yes, that George Romero. He did it between Dawn and Day.
You might think that "a movie about dirt bike jousting directed by George Romero" would pretty much cover all the bizarre stuff going on in this movie, but trust me on this: It is only the beginning. It's the kind of movie that's so damn weird that when you finish, you immediately start telling people they need to see it. Here's why.
Congratulations, all of you are now pregnant.
5 Yes, That Is the Actual Premise
The greatest danger of making a movie about dudes jousting on dirt bikes is undoubtedly the risk that you're not putting enough actual dirt bike jousting into it, but don't worry: George Romero knows what he's doing. This isn't just a movie that's at least 60 percent footage of stuntmen riding around on dirt bikes beating the living hell out of each other with war hammers and battleaxes; it's also a movie that opens with a 40-minute dirt bike jousting tournament, shown to us in what appears to be real time.
OK, well, to be perfectly honest, the movie actually opens with a shot of Ed Harris' bare ass standing in a forest, but the jousting starts within the first five minutes and then goes on for a lot longer than you expect.
The thing is, as good as it is to deliver on that premise, it never quite gets to the point where any of it's actually, you know, important. I kept waiting for Knightriders to fall into the formula that we all know and love from movies like, say, Breakin', where someone has to save a rec center and/or ski school by winning some kind of all-county joust-off. Instead, I'm pretty sure it was meant to be a medium for social commentary that never quite took off.
See, the actual premise of the movie isn't just that there are dudes who like to ride motorcycles and hit each other with swords, it's that Ed Harris (who you may remember as that guy from that one thing) is leading a troupe of traveling Renaissance Faire performers who have created a new society for themselves based on feudalism. Harris is the king, the dirt bike guys and mechanics are the knights and their squires, and the people selling friendship bracelets or whatever are the serfs. There's even a court wizard, and everybody wears wool poet shirts with their jeans. So the dirt bike jousting isn't just a performance, it's an actual tournament in which the king can become deposed and replaced with the guy who is the best at motorcycle combat.
"Medieval Times can suck it."
Admittedly, this is probably the greatest political system since the advent of democracy, but it causes a lot of trouble because dudes are actually trying to beat each other into submission with axes and swords in front of a crowd. This is the major source of conflict in the plot, as Tom Savini -- who is extremely shirtless throughout most of this movie -- is tired of not being king and threatens to run off to Hollywood where a sleazy agent is gearing up to take dirt bike jousting to new heights of popularity. Don't worry, though: It gets resolved at the end when Savini, Harris, and Gary Lahti sit down and decide that maybe they shouldn't try to actively murder each other during the performance.
Did I mention that Ed Harris prepares for battle by standing in a river and whipping his own back with a switch? Because this is something that happens twice.
To be fair, this is how Ed Harris prepares for most things in real life, too.
4 There Is Also a Wizard in It
He plays a harmonica. His name is Merlin. Of course it is.