Knightriders (1981)

Genres - Action, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biker Film, Costume Adventure  |   Release Date - Apr 10, 1981 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 145 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Its premise -- cyclists who stage motorhead renaissance fairs -- might seem jokey, and certainly the humor of the situation isn't lost on director George Romero, but in this rare departure from the horror genre, Romero has bigger themes to explore. Taking his pseudo-medieval milieu one step further, his motley crew of cycling enthusiasts find themselves re-enacting Arthurian narratives. The film creates such a memorable clash of myth and modernity, of stories of England's past and America's frontier, that its moments of overindulgence don't really register. As the film's Arthur, Ed Harris' commanding presence helps elucidate the seriousness of the themes at work. Like the world of the Dead films in miniature, the society he oversees threatens to disintegrate, and his sorrowful performance makes clear his awareness of his situation's tragic potential. All the while, Romero never loses track of his other duty: to deliver the action. The well-staged fight scenes -- still the best (and only) examples of cycle jousting -- lose their oddness and gain excitement as the film progresses. Little-seen at the time, in retrospect, this film looks like one of the director's most personal, most mature efforts.