Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

US movie (1981). United Artists/ Laurel. Pr Richard P Rubinstein. Exec pr Salah M Hassanein. Dir George A Romero. Spfx Larry Roberts. Screenplay Romero. Starring Brother Blue (Merlin), Ken Foree (Little John), Christine Forrest (Angie), Ed Harris (King Billy), John Hostetter (Tuck), Amy Ingersoll (Linet), Gary Lahti (Alan), Tom Savini (Morgan), Patricia Tallman (Julie). 145 mins. Colour.

King Billy leads a band of biker "knights" who make a living by jousting at pseudo-medieval fairs across the USA, with the full accoutrement of lances and other nonlethal but nevertheless fairly heavy weapons. Billy (for whom read Arthur) is interested more in the chivalric than the financial aspects, a pose that leads to his downfall, for his lieutenant, Morgan (for whom read Mordred), is keen to take the crown. Bravest of the king's Knights – although far from ablest – is Alan (for whom read Lancelot), who in the end claims Billy's woman Linet (for whom read Guinevere). Morgan eventually attains the crown; Billy avenges the honour of his knights on a corrupt police officer and dies in a road accident, dreaming of a knight from the Age of Chivalry.

K was released at the same time as Excalibur (1981), and both were excoriated by the critics: now Excalibur is highly regarded and K is deservedly a popular cult movie. K is often muddled (complete with the introduction of some characters from the Robin Hood rather than the Arthur mythos), but has vigour, ambition and verve. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.