In the last few years, Shout! Factory has blossomed from a promising boutique label into a major player in the catalog title department. Their reach seems to expand exponentially each month, covering everything from major studio fare (MGM, Fox, etc.) to tiny indies. You never know what they’ll turn up a new disc of these days – and as if to prove this point, they just unleashed a blu-ray of the cult comedy fave The Kentucky Fried Movie. The result is a nice high-def edition of a title that doesn’t seem to lend itself to such treatment.
The new high-definition transfer does well by a title that has a lot of visual limitations. The Kentucky Fried Movie was shot on a low budget and in a piecemeal fashion, sometimes with different cameras (and even one segment shot on video and transferred to film). As a result, image quality varies from skit to skit but it always has with this title. The anamorphic transfer present here gives everything a bump in color and clarity and the more carefully shot parts of the film, like “A Fistful Of Yen,” look surprisingly good. The original mono soundtrack is presented in a lossless format here and offers a strong representation of this vintage mix. If you grew up with this title on VHS and cable t.v., you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this upgrade.
A few choice extras are also included. First and foremost is a group commentary track featuring Landis, the Zuckers, Abrahams and producer Robert Weiss, carried over from the Anchor Bay DVD edition of this title. It’s an engagingly energetic track that hits the ground running and delivers plenty of stories about the order in which segments were filmed, which sketches appeared in the Kentucky Fried Theater’s stage show and some hilarious tales about the stumbles involved in finding funding for the film. All participants are candid about what they do and don’t like in the film and plenty of fun trivia is scattered throughout, like which films supplied the stock destruction footage seen in “That’s Armageddon.” Any fan of the film needs to give this track a listen.
Also included is a lengthy (one hour plus) interview with the Zucker brothers that was originally included on a UK special edition DVD. Both men make for genial interview subjects as they answer a variety of questions while joking around. They discuss the film and the history of the Kentucky Fried Theater in detail – and the expansive length of the interview also works in questions about Airplane!, the Police Squad films and even the Jerry Zucker solo venture Ghost. The results are laid back but offer plenty of quality info for fans of the Zuckers’ work.
The set is rounded out by the film’s original trailer, which includes a rare on-camera appearance from the infamous “Samuel L. Bronkowitz” and a brief glimpse of footage from the film’s “Courtroom” segment in color instead black and white. The one thing omitted from the old Anchor Bay DVD is the set of 8mm home movies shot on the set (so fans who own that DVD will want to hang onto it).
All in all, this is a solid high-def upgrade for a beloved cult title whose value is enhanced by the extras. Whether you’re a fan or a newbie, this disc offers a good way to enjoy The Kentucky Fried Movie on home video.