Movie Review: Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead
Well, I wasn’t expecting musical numbers.
Geysers of feces, blood and gratuitous boob shots: These are the things one expects from a Lloyd Kaufman film and Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead has them in spades. But the movie also sports numerous musical numbers and, even more surprisingly, they’re good musical numbers with very catchy toe-tapping songs. It’s almost like Kaufman saw how many movies have been turned into Broadway shows then turned back into movies and decided to make his own project that could land him some of that Great White Way moolah. Poultrygeist could totally work as a stage musical. But people sitting in the first five rows would definitely need a splash guard.
After a fairly busy ’80s and ’90s, Poultrygeist is Kaufman’s first feature-length Troma directorial effort since 2000’s Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV and the time off seems to have served him well, having returned with a renewed vigor. This is especially apparent when Kaufman pops up in the middle of the film as a mini-skirted WAC to perform the high-kicking dance number “Longing to Live/Waiting to Die” with the film’s star Jason Yachanin. The key to most if not all Kaufman’s films is his boundless, infectious enthusiasm that permeates each frame. Even though he may be directing the most horrible, disgusting and depraved acts, he just wants us to love him and his movies. Which is almost impossible not to do.
The entire film is reminiscent of the fast food scene in the original Toxic Avenger, except amped up to 11 on a combination of steroids and crystal meth. Toxie dispatching a gang of thugs in gruesome ways, e.g. in a deep fryer and a milkshake machine, now seems quaint in comparison to faces caught in a meat slicer, spinal columns being ripped out, anuses being extracted, testicles getting removed and about a hundred other vile deaths I’m forgetting or blocking out from my memory to save my own sanity.
Also, as in Kaufman’s last couple of films, gore isn’t enough anymore. There are also copious barf and vomit gags as well as the most explosive death by diarrhea scene probably ever filmed. And if you ever wanted to know what a toilet feels like when a two-ton fat guy sits upon it, now you’ll know and regret the question ever popped into your head.
Now, one might think a film like this would feature a simple plot on which to hang the gross-out scenes, but that would be a wrong assumption. Instead, the film — which is the product of three screenwriters — has a rather complex story about a typical Troma nerd named Arbie (Yachanin) and his girlfriend Wendy (Kate Graham). When an American Chicken Bunker franchise opens on an ancient Indian burial ground, it turns Wendy into an aggressive, corporate-hating lesbian while Arbie gets a job in the restaurant just to spite her. Beyond that, the plot is almost too convoluted to explain, but eventually the spirits of the dead poultry and Indians combine to transform the denizens of Tromaville into chicken-faced, flesh eating zombies.
Like the gore and the musical numbers, the acting is very spirited with a very appealing Yachanin and Graham. However, Robin Watkins totally steals the show as General Lee Roy, an inspired parody of KFC’s Colonel Sanders. Watkins barrels through each of his scenes with tremendous energy, enthusiasm and a shameless verve of hucksterism.
Through the blood, guts, snappy musical numbers, over-the-top acting, corny jokes etc., Kaufman masterfully weaves all of his chaotic strands together to create one of Troma’s most successful productions.
Watch the (very disgusting) Poultrygeist movie trailer: