I'd Like A Sloppy Jose With A Cluckwork Orange; Hold The Fla
Robert I. Hedges | 08/09/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
""Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead" is an unusual film even by Troma's standards. Shot with amateur actors in a church and an abandoned McDonald's in Buffalo, New York on a very slim budget, the film recounts fast food capitalism run amok with terrifying consequences. The film starts with the typical Lloyd Kaufman introduction (the best one he's ever done, incidentally) and quickly shifts to the "Tromahawk Tribe Indian Burial Ground," which is defiled by a couple of teenagers, Wendy (Kate Graham) and Arbie (Jason Yachmanin,) before being vastly more defiled by American Chicken Bunker, which builds a fast food restaurant atop it.
Did I mention that "Poultrygeist" is also a profane musical? The music and choreography is about what you'd expect with occasionally witty lyrics, but generally resorting to shock humor to get laughs. The restaurant has a crew of oddballs working there, from a jihadist fry cook named Hummus (Rose Grauami) to a gay Mexican named Paco Bell (Khalid Rivera.) Management is provided by Denny (Joshua Olatunde) and General Lee Roy (Robin L. Watkins.) I have to admit I was amused by the fast food names the cast sported, but was less amused by most other aspects of the film. It's obvious to anyone who has ever seen a Troma film before (or anyone who read the film's title carefully) that the ghosts of Indian chickens come back to haunt the American Chicken Bunker, and it starts on opening day. Manager Denny has his hands full with college protestors outside and an exponentially worsening mutant chicken problem inside ("Who put these mysterious, vein-covered, pulsating eggs in this box?")
Sounding the alarm about the forthcoming chicken apocalypse is Ron Jeremy (as "Crazy Ron") who, despite his misgivings, still orders a value meal. Shortly thereafter the film unveils the most inappropriate and gratuitous use of salad tongs in film history, followed by a customer (Jared) eating flavor pod-enhanced chicken and making a typically (for Troma) disgusting trip to the bathroom in a scene that goes on far too long. One thing you can say for "Poultrygeist" (and Troma in general) is that political correctness is not given a second thought, and that's a good thing on balance.
After the bathroom cleaning gets under way, you might think the movie can't get worse, but that's where you would be wrong. Lloyd Kaufman enters as Colonel Kluck in a hilarious looking chicken suit, and before long disrobes, reveals himself to be Old Arbie, and the two Arbies do a disturbing song and dance number that unfortunately culminates in Lloyd showing that he's wearing a thong. Thank you movie: I hadn't had a good nightmare in a while. Paco goes through a particularly nasty transformation into a "Sloppy Jose," a shredded BBQ sandwich (with olives for eyes, and which can talk,) which The General promptly eats. Not only is there a fairly unpleasant romance subplot involving Arbie and Wendy, but there's an even more odious romance subplot involving a character named Carl Jr. (Caleb Emerson) and some raw poultry, and that's all I'm going to say about it other than mentioning that the broad-brushed humor in "Poultrygeist" makes "Bio-Dome" with Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin appear subtly nuanced and stately by comparison. Just because something's ridiculous doesn't make it funny.
Needless to say this film has lots of vomiting, bleeding, oozing, and other distasteful bits, all very repetitive and derivative. Kaufman wanted this to be the bloodiest movie in history according to the extras, and all the gross-out scenes go on far too long, the net effect of which is that the movie revolves around the lame gore rather than the storyline. Increasing numbers of people are infected with the chicken, The General battles a mutant green death chicken, and is himself subsumed by the avian nightmare, as is Carl Jr., who has a new and unsavory use for a mop handle as it turns out. Just because something's gross doesn't make it shocking (or funny.)
The chicken apocalypse and zombification scenes are way (way) too long, and in possible the most politically incorrect moment in the film, the heroes figure out that the one thing that can kill the mutant chickens is alcohol as they are, after all, Native American chickens. (I don't value politically correctness, but that is so not funny on so many levels.) Thankfully there's a keg of beer handy, and Arbie and Wendy pump away to ultimately defeat the horde. (Sample dialogue: "At least with a demon chicken you know where you stand.") Just because something's politically incorrect doesn't make it shocking (or funny.) Interestingly, in the commentary Lloyd Kaufman noted that he was concerned about public opinion, but that no Native American groups complained about the film, which is something he was (justifiably) worried about. It makes me wonder how many of them saw it.
The set has oodles of extras, including a 90-minute "making of" feature called "Poultry in Motion," which is far more interesting and entertaining than the film itself, and is the principal reason I gave the DVD two stars versus one. The travails of low-budget filmmaking have never been more clear. There was no real money for actors, so Kaufman cast amateur fans who wanted to be in the movie. It's pretty clear that these are mostly amateurs, but Kaufman annoyed me with nonstop complaining about the actors in the documentary. So let me get this right: you don't pay them, they move to Buffalo to work and live in (!) a derelict McDonald's and church basement (the two shooting locations) during the summer, and you're complaining? Then to top it off, the temperature gets up to 105 Fahrenheit and you refuse to get into the hot Colonel Kluck costume, letting an unpaid assistant do it instead? That's some leadership style.
Despite all these obstacles, the film opened in New York and played in 300 theaters around the country, becoming the most critically-acclaimed Troma release ever. I don't share that enthusiasm, but truly enjoyed "Poultry in Motion" and the many other extras in the package (e.g. footage of the premiere, shots of recording the songs, making the monsters, deleted scenes, etc.) The deleted scenes include Ron Jeremy's happy ending monologue (which is very long; he memorized it in ten minutes,) which I think would have made a better concluding shot to the film that what actually made the cut.
"Poultrygeist" sounded like a brilliant concept for a low-budget picture, and certainly had promise. There are a few parts that are genuinely clever (like the advertisement that reads "Semper Thigh") but the film is far too long for the comedy material they have, and the zombie chicken material is too weak and repetitive to successfully pad the running time without becoming monotonous. While I had hoped that "Poultrygeist" would soar, in the end it's for the birds."
HORRIBLE, DISGUSTING AND SICK! YEAH....I LIKED IT!
! MR. KNOW IT ALL ;-b | TRI STATE AREA | 06/20/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The title alone should have given me some idea what to expect, but nothing could prepare me for what I witnessed when I watched 'Poultrygeist'! Loving or hating this film is really a matter of taste, it's absurd and genius and the same time. Horrible over the top acting and gore make this film a must see for fans of such shocking yet hilarious satire.
The only problem with this film is it's length and the musical numbers are way too long! If this film had been edited better, it would be a masterpiece!
Warning this film is DISGUSTING!....so if you're squeamish don't even think about it! There is also lots of nudity, so if that bothers you......!? Well I don't think that will bother anyone interested in this film!
The two disc "EGG-DITION" has tons of extras to keep any fan busy, but the price is a bit much....although it's not much more than the single disc version."