Thursday, April 7, 2011

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006) Fast Food Satire From Uncle Lloyd

If you've been reading my humble blog for any amount of time, it's pretty obvious I enjoy movies with energy and vitality. Budget be damned. Sometimes, taste and logic be damned. If it's got that spark, and that spark lights something in my little brain, I'm going to enjoy it.

Many, many years ago, in my college-years job in a video store (sadly I did not go on to direct Reservoir Dogs), I took home a cute little film called The Toxic Avenger, and thus my love and respect for Lloyd Kaufman and Troma Entertainment began.  I remember The Toxic Avenger as this wild, energetic, tasteless, and hilarious presentation of a whole new kind of superhero, and an introduction to a whole new style of filmmaking, at least to my eyes in 1989.

I tend to be a late bloomer sometimes with certain things, it seems, and I only saw Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead in the spring of 2011.  Hey, better late than never.  I'd heard about the movie through other horror fans, other horror bloggers.  I was intrigued, and not having seen a Troma film in longer than I should admit, it was due time to revisit the energy I sensed from that first viewing in 1989.

What I got was a goofy, oddball, delightfully tasteless, ultra-gory, naughty, toe-tapping semi-musical slam on the big target of the fast food industry that I couldn't help but like more and more as it went along.  It's about fresh-faced Arbie (Jason Yachanin) hoping for one last night of shenanigans with his high school sweetheart Wendy (Kate Graham), and hoping for a promise that they'd always be together.  When the college semester ends, Arbie returns home to find the local Indian burial ground has been cemented over, with a fast-food chicken franchise built callously over the now-empty graves.  Not only that, he finds that Wendy has taken to sexually experimenting with Micki (Allyson Sereboff), the leader of a large protest group taking issue with the new restaurant, seemingly forgetting their promise.  Upset, Arbie rebels by taking a job at the new American Chicken Bunker and becomes their new "counter girl," complete with tutu.  It's there that Arbie meets his strange co-workers, including manager Denny (Joshua Olantude), Hummus (Rose Ghavami), Paco Bell (Khalid Rivera), Carl Jr. (Caleb Emerson), owner and main villain General Lee Roy (Robin Watkins), and Old Arbie (director Lloyd Kaufman), who may be a future version of the younger Arbie...phew!  Lots of people, lots of fun.

What follows is the inevitable merging of the angry Native American spirits and countless chickens, as everyone who consumes the food from American Chicken Bunker turns into a chicken-beaked, violent zombie-demon-thing possessing super-human strength and a thirst for blood and regular human flesh.  The restaurant becomes an abattoir as people are horribly, and often hilariously, dispatched in increasingly gory ways that only a Troma film can deliver.  Arbie and Wendy have to overcome betrayal (turns out Micki and the General were working together the whole time) and overwhelming odds to not only survive, but get a little girl they've rescued out and to freedom.

Peppered with catchy songs with very explicit lyrics, buckets of blood (and other things probably best left unmentioned), boundaries-of-taste-pushing gags, cameos (like Ron Jeremy's "Crazy Ron"), and a crazy energy, Poultrygeist is pure Troma fun in the classic vein.  It harks back to movies like the aforementioned Toxic Avenger.  The acting is hammy and over-the-top, but in a Troma film, that's how it should be.  Jason Yachanin is an awkward and likable hero, and Graham is sexy and cute all in the same breath - the leads head a cast that's obviously having a ball doing this insane little movie. It's definitely no secret that Lloyd Kaufman is a champion of small, independent films - he's like a father figure to many aspiring and established horror film folk.  Yeah, some of these films might not be for everyone, or to everyone's taste.  That's okay.  I've said it before:  we all have unique tastes that really shouldn't be put down.

So if you like Poultrygeist, hold your head up high and steer clear of the chicken.

Until next time, enjoy this trailer that...well, may be offensive to some, but if you're reading a horror blog, something tells me you're not offended by much.  And hey, I picked the least offensive trailer I could find!  Enjoy...


  1. It's one of the best Troma movies to come out in a while. Good catchy musical numbers that get oddly stuck in your head (the Irish ballad between Lloyd and kid comes to mind)

  2. It just seemed like they were having so much fun making the movie. I can admire that!

    You're right, the songs do get stuck in your head...

  3. Dod - I enjoyed your review and I'm with you on it wholeheartedly. Lloyd actually slipped me an advance DVD of this to review before it came out at the premiere of The Toxic Avenger musical. Check out my review when you get a moment as well:

  4. Jay, not only was I hoping to meet up with you at Chiller this April, but I was hoping to chat with Lloyd!

    This is such a rollicking movie - so much fun, infectious songs, and it just looked like a blast to make.