Welcome back to Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon. In this spooky sanctum I’ve poured over all the replay tape to come up with my favorite NFL play of the week. Then it’s straight back to the projector to unspool a film you may have not been aware of…
The lights have dimmed, the wine’s been poured, and the wolves have been fed.
Week 2: Cam Finds Kelvin Benjamin For Short, Bruising Touchdown
While last week The Haunted Dungeon looked at a determined play from young up-and-comer Derek Carr, this week we focus on toughness. The theme is no coincidence since many of us are now looking to patch up the injury-related holes in our leaky fantasy rowboats after a week two that was particularly hard on some dependable names. I managed to snag returning behemoth Kelvin Benjamin for a song in my league’s auction draft and he’s been paying dividends. This is a guy built a bit like linebacker, but happens to be a gifted receiver.
It’s 2nd and 9 so Cam’s got some wiggle room: why not throw it to the big fella short of the plane and see what he can do? It looked like a hard play to defend against with both ‘Niners’ edge-rushers committing to sack Newton on the play-action, but the pass defense looked limp. Benjamin takes some licks on his way to end zone, but if it were actually one dedicated tackler instead of two guys giving up against a veritable rhino, I’m not sure the end result would have been any different with Benjamin barreling into the end zone. I hope Kelvin stays healthy. He’s been my favorite receiver to watch in this nascent NFL season.
Week 2: Knightriders
Director: George A. Romero
George A. Romero is of course best know for the Night of the Living Dead (1968) and its two sequels, but the wryly political king of zombie terror has a few other oddball entries in his oeuvre from the blatantly violent low-budget statement against chemical weapons The Crazies (1973), to the ludicrously bizarre premise of a murderous helper-monkey capuchin in Monkey Shines (1988).
Knightriders is the only major non-horror project that Romero has helmed, but this story of a group of fringe bikers, putting on fully motorized jousting tournaments for the benefit of curious gawkers at Renaissance Fairs rates as one of the very best in Uncle George’s output.
The combination of outlaw cool mixed with the freedom and fun of the traveling circus is made even more fascinating by the performers’ dedication to living under a medieval code. Ed Harris may be “King Billy,” but that doesn’t mean The Black Knight, special effects legend and sometimes actor Tom Savini, can’t challenge him. To my mind, this is Savini’s finest performance in front of the camera with his cocaine-fueled ego dishing out heaping helpings of snark and petulance.
At two and a half hours it’s a little long for a genre flick for sure, but that allows Romero to explore plenty of interesting and unexpected avenues. While the obvious thrust is the difficulty of living a truly alternative lifestyle under one’s own rules, other concepts like the dilution of what’s cool and worthwhile when outside money is injected into a vibrant subculture, as well as the pitfalls of celebrity that come with being a corporate shill. Most impressively, Romero addresses the homosexuality of a troupe member, and the bald-faced and truly humanistic treatment feels downright revolutionary in an early 80’s movie.
While there are no undead decapitations or cannibalistic disembowelings on hand, the choreographed motorcycle stunts have a gritty authenticity thanks to the lack of over-editing, and the whole film has a synergistic DIY feel both in its subject matter and production style.
They really don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
Free in eight parts on Youtube. Disc available through Netflix. Streaming rental available through Amazon video.