Just Need to Take a Ride (Knightriders, 1981)
I never really had any idea what this movie was about, based on the cover in the video store. s thought it was maybe about time traveling bikers in medieval times or a post apocalyptic future. It turns out…it is about Ren Fair bikers who get super popular.
Billy leads a traveling show where everyone dresses as knights and other medieval citizenry, with the one different being they ride motor cycles rather than horses. Most treat it as a fun business, but Billy seems to have really bought into the notion that there is a certain reality to his kingdom. He starts to really have a crisis when he discovers a magazine write up about his crew that starts to cause fractures. It starts to get minds within the group to be tempted by dreams of fame and stardom.
Eventually, Morgan (Tom Savini) walk away to take a lucrative sounding offer of commercialization. And while it is exciting at first, they start to become disillusioned, missing what they had with Billy.
It is interesting to see how they have framed various members of the Arthurian court. Merlin is more of a hippie than magician…but he seems able to reach Billy in a fashion others cannot.
The film focuses on themes of being true to yourself and your ideals, an not caving to compromise. And that can feel a bit goofy in a film about guy jousting on motorcycles for fun.
The jousting sequences are fun to watch and really, the cast does a good job of bringing it all to life convincingly. If the film has one major flaw, it is quite simply that at two and a half hours? It is a bit to long. But still, this is such an odd man out of the Romero catalogue, it has some real charms.