Directed by: Lloyd Kaufman
Written by: Gabriel Friedman, Daniel Bova, and Lloyd Kaufman
Starring: Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham, Allyson Sereboff, and Robin L. Watkins
Reviewed by: Tyler B.
Humans... the other white meat... Unless you're black, then it's dark meat... Or if you are Asian, then it's yellow meat... Or if you are Native American, it's red meat...
In North America, obesity levels have risen by very large percentages. People are taking the quick and easy food alternative over the healthy choice simply because it's cheaper and easier to access. Fast food chains are popping up on every corner of Smalltown, USA and enticing children while they are still young and impressionable. It's actually quite scary stuff since it's causing diabetes cases in more people and leading to unhealthy lifestyles. You wouldn't expect anyone to literally take that headline and apply it to a horror formula, but you have to give it up to Troma Entertainment for not only doing that, but elevating it further into excess by making it a horror-musical-cult comedy with chicken zombies! This is fast food for thought and it's about to get even messier than what happens in the washroom 10 minutes after eating greasy fried chicken! This is Troma's latest, and most offensive, offering Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead.
Arbie (Jason Yachanin) and Wendy (Kate Graham) decide to get it on in a cemetery to confirm their love for each other before Wendy goes off to college. Jump forward one college semester later where a new fast food chain, American Chicken Bunker, has just built it's new restaurant and an angry protest is under way before it's grand opening. Here Arbie finds out that Wendy is now a lesbian with her new girlfriend Micki (Allyson Sereboff) and they are protesting the ACB. So to get back at her, Arbie takes a job as a 'counter girl' at the new fast food joint. It isn't long before General Lee Roy (Robin L. Watkins), the owner of the chain, shows up to ensure protesters that there are no inhumane methods of treating the chickens for food prep or that they have anything to worry about. Well, little do they know that the ACB was built on an ancient Tromahawk indian burial ground and now fast food chicken zombies are taking over the customers and devouring everyone in sight. It's up to Arbie, Wendy, Micki, and a few other workers including Humus (Rose Ghavami) and Carl Jr. (Caleb Emerson) to stop the chicken zombie onslaught and get out in one piece, and not end up a one-piece dinner!
If you thought Troma's other offerings like Tromeo & Juliet, Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV, or Terror Firmer were offensive, you haven't seen anything yet! Troma pulls no punches and offends pretty much everyone on the planet, no one is spared in this satire. Poultrygeist is gleefully disgusting, gross-out gory, containing every bodily fluid being sprayed at the camera, but I'll be damned if my ribs didn't hurt from laughing so hard throughout the entire movie. I was wincing one moment and then cracking up the next. It's funny as hell and the most politically incorrect film Troma has ever released. Kaufman and screenwriter/editor Gabe Friedman have created a cult musical for the new generation that will slowly find it's way into more people's homes. There aren't too many musikills, as I like to call them, out there. There's Cannibal! The Musical, and the freshly released Repo! The Genetic Opera but that's about it. And no I don't count The Rocky Horror Picture Show as really a horror movie. While these young actors are clearly not professional singers, they do their best to belt out the tunes in key. Some of the numbers are quite funny and cleverly written, including the best musical number which actually features Lloyd Kaufman singing. Lloyd plays a fairly major role in the film as Old Arbie, and it's a hoot seeing him dance and sing up a storm while wearing an orange tutu and thong.
Troma has always included much social commentary in their satires, with Poultrygeist dealing with and taking stabs at issues such as obesity, fast food chains (if you didn't catch on, all the characters are named after popular fast food chains), American news and media, the war on terror, etc. The film is brilliantly written and executed. A huge pat on the back goes to the special effects team whom slaved away in unheard of conditions with no money to create some of the most inventive and gory effects I've seen on celluloid since Peter Jackson's Braindead. And it's just about as gory as Braindead too! Not to go into too much detail, but faces are sliced off, a creepy man gets a zombie fist up his ass and out his mouth, and Jared (Joe Fleishaker) has explosive diarrhea that turns him inside out in a matter of seconds. Interesting note, a scene that occurs shortly before Jared's demise contains a toilet cam view of him shitting out his meal. This scene even has censors bars covering the flying fecal matter. Lloyd explains that his wife Patricia Kaufman, who put up some of the money for the film and is also the New York State Film Commissioner, made him do it because it was too excessive, and since she put up the money she should have a say in it. Troma's always been one for casting new faces and young talent, and the cast of Poultrygeist are truly talented. I can only see big things for the futures of the two leads, Yachanin and Graham. Once again director and Troma co-founder Lloyd Kaufman injects the film with his furious energy and it never once lets up. You'll be gasping for air as you scream out loud in disgust, laughter, and horror at what you're seeing on the screen.
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead is available on DVD in a 3-disc collector's edition featuring a commentary track, a bonus karaoke DVD, making-of segments, and much more. The real highlight however is the feature length making-of documentary titled Poultry in Motion. The documentary goes in depth into the makings of a truly independent horror film and how much hell the cast and crew has to go through to get a film like this made. Everyone slept in the basement of a church eating cheese sandwiches for a month straight. Morale can only go down. Covering everything from pre-production to post, this shows the real horrors and joys of making a horror film and I'd almost recommend watching this just as much as the film itself because it too is itself a genuine horror-comedy!
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead is a welcome addition to any horror collection. It's about as insane and gory as any film your likely to see, filled with tons of attitude and a great cast, and because it's a musical it tops the cake. Keep an eye out for a cameo from Troma regular Ron Jeremy and find out how the famous Troma kabuki car flip fits in. If you're a fan of Troma's other offerings like The Toxic Avenger or Terror Firmer you're going to love the movie. Even if you're not a Troma fan, I guarantee this one will still be highly enjoyable and should not be overlooked. Sick, disgusting, offensive, and funny as fuck, Lloyd Kaufman has done it again and given us a new cult classic just as worthy as the original Troma hit The Toxic Avenger. Check this one out before it hatches. Buy it!
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