Judge David Johnson is pleased to report that Troma did not lay an egg with this epic zombie splatter comedy.
Our review of Poultrygeist: 2-Disc Special Egg-Dition, published April 24th, 2009, is also available.
Night of the chicken dead.
I have been seeing previews for this movie for years on every Troma disc I've reviewed and finally it's time to see what all the fuss is about.
Facts of the Case
For Arbie (Jason Yachanin), his whole life revolves around his fetching girlfriend (Kata Graham). But after an evening of passion goes horribly awry in an ancient Native American burial ground, the two split up and, much to his chagrin, she turns to lesbianism, a fact he discovers at a protest of the new American Chicken Bunker fast food franchise. In an impulsive act to upset her and her new left-wing protest friends, Arbie takes a job as a counter-boy, just in time for the grand opening.
Unfortunately, the fanfare is quickly ruined when the Native American sprits, angered by the fact that the restaurant was built on their sacred ground, infect the chicken with their diabolical mojo and promptly turn anyone who eats it into raving chicken zombies. It will be up to Arbie to repel the chicken-dead horde, get the girl and survive a disgusting encounter with a giant penis monster.
The wait has been worth it. I wouldn't have thought that Lloyd Kaufman could have met my expectations after the seemingly endless hype built around this flick, but Poultrygeist is humongous fun and easily the best Troma movie I've ever seen. And yes, I know that sounds like a back-handed compliment, but for all of its negative stigma, Troma has turned out some memorable exploitation romps (The Toxic Avenger, Tromeo and Juliet, Terror Firmer). But this…this eclipses them all by a long shot.
In fact, take away the Troma brand if you like andPoultrygeist still stands tall as a hilarious, disgusting, fluid-drenched, and, yes, smart genre picture and is a must-see for anyone even slightly drawn towards slapstick horror lunacy. It could have been so easy for this thing to misfire, but Kaufman delivers over and over and it's a rarity for a gag to fall flat (itself a miracle once you watch the feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary that chronicles pretty much the most dysfunctional clusterf*ck of a production ever seen).
This is easily the goopiest Troma movie ever and ranks right up there with bloodshed classics like Dead Alive and Bad Taste as far as cubic liter of Karo syrup spilled. While the set-ups may be obviously fake at some points, it fits perfectly well with the tongue-in-cheek atmosphere of the film. For example, a guy falls into a grinder and the kitchen just gets soaked in blood, another is struck with explosive diarrhea (and it is explosive), a peeping tom in a graveyard has his intestines ripped through his anus, there's a group vomit scene, and the big zombie massacre is loaded with some of the most creative, messy gags you've ever seen. Kaufman apparently set out to make the bloodiest movie ever and a valid argument can be made that he succeeded.
All of this would of course be hugely disturbing if Poultrygeist played it straight as a hard horror movie, but this is a splatter comedy from start to finish. The splatter is certainly there and, thankfully, so is the humor. The script is wry and funny and gloriously politically incorrect. Kaufman and company go after all manner of targets, taboo or not, like drunken Native Americans, suicide bombing Islamic fundamentalists, "left-wing lesbian liberals," Christians, the corporate food chain complex and a whole lot more. Sure the jokes are crude and sophomoric, but they're funny and who cares anyway? This is a movie that features a morbidly obese man rolling around in his own liquefied poop as a comedic centerpiece.
That's all I'm going to say and in fact I fear I may have already said too much, though my hope is that the description has pushed any fence-sitters over to the "want-to-see" camp. It's a near-perfect splatter romp and judging by the amount of blood, sweat, tears and personal retirement funds that went into making the movie, it deserves to be supported.
The three-disc edition is loaded. Disc One brings the feature, which looks fine in its 35mm, vintage-like 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Just the fact that it's Troma and anamorphic deserves a thumbs-up. An interesting commentary from Kaufman and co-writer Gabe Friedman accompanies. Disc Two offers the meat of the bonus materials. The "Poultry in Motion" full-length documentary is fascinating viewing, mainly because the production appeared to be one extended nightmare and the very fact that they were able to get not just a coherent movie out of it all but a pretty great one no less is a miracle. Other extras include three deleted scenes, a handful of behind-the-scenes segments and music videos. The third disc, a karaoke collection of the film's songs, is relatively disposable.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Speaking of which, that's my only misgiving about the film: the musical numbers. They're not dealbreakers and some of the lines are funny and it allows for more gratuitous nudity but, I don't know, they just seemed a bit too wannabe clever and contrived.
Poultrygeist is the real deal. Track it down.
Not guilty, and please note I made it through this entire review without a single cheap poultry gag.
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