They Had No Idea How to Write a Script

Jenny Agutter in An American Werewolf in London. Universal.

They had an idea for a disaster movie parody, inspired by the 1957 airplane drama Zero Hour, but weren’t sure how to start. Then they saw John Landis on The Tonight Show in 1973, talking about his low-budget monster movie tribute Schlock, of which Johnny Carson was a fan. Landis had made the film at 21.

Zucker called him up, invited him to a show, and ZAZ told Landis about their movie idea. But they didn’t know anything about writing a screenplay, so he gave them a copy of his own An American Werewolf in London, which he would finally get to make into a movie in 1981.

ZAZ used it as a template as they wrote Airplane. But when they couldn’t find backing for Airplane, they decided to make a film based on their live comedy sketches — which became Kentucky Fried Movie.

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