† H a p p y   H a l l o w e e n †

This one I recommend.

This one I recommend.

Kaufman, you're the man.

Kaufman, you’re the man.

A film as self-awarely rotten as Poultrygeist is exactly what’s needed in a climate where political correctness has apparently become less about ending the perpetuation of racism, stereotypes and misinformation, and more about censoring whatever statements don’t make absolutely everyone happy, regardless if said statements are (A) misinterpreted irony and satire, (B) something that truly needs to be said, or (C) a simple mockery of a group that deserves it in spite of what special treatment society deems they should get. Not completely unfair; I too can think of groups that shouldn’t be ridiculed. None are depicted in this film.

A perfectly normal day in Tromaville.

A perfectly normal day in Tromaville.

In the case of Poultrygeist, the statements it makes on such people as vegans, tycoons and activists, no matter how true they may be (it doesn’t matter), are purely for laughs and outrageousness. And while it does have the fast food industry as a big target of legitimate commentary instead of just sneers, its core intention seems to be evoking nostalgia of a time where people were less squeamish, not necessarily just of commentary/humor that’s too “incorrect” to get away with today because it takes on the “wrong” targets, but of mindlessly violent B movies where the enjoyment came from cheesy acting and watching various bipeds get torn to shreds through the magic of practical special effects. This time around, they’re getting torn apart by zombie chickens. For real.

The film is directed by Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Entertainment, and while it takes place in the Tromaverse, it is never excessively self-referential. We follow a white nerd named Arbie (Jason Yachanin) as he loses his girlfriend Wendy (Kate Graham) to a Lesbian Femi-Nazi Vegan® (Allyson Sereboff) who runs a protest against Tromaville’s newly opened fast food chicken joint. She’s named “Micki”, after McDonald’s. I expect you see the pattern.

Arbie signs up for a job at the restaurant out of spite. However, it’s not all greasy french fries and cheddar dip, as the restaurant has been built on the ruins of a cursed Native American burial ground. Green pulsating eggs start appearing around the shop, the chicken starts looking equally unappetizing, employees start to die gloriously gruesome deaths, and patrons are somehow transformed into zombie chickens.

A problem with the film is that the premise is stretched pretty thin due to the movie being longer than it needs to be. Kaufman tries to fill out the time with a few running jokes that eventually get tired and, a much better option, a series of musical numbers. Not all of them great but most of them funny, the tunes sung in this film include “Revenge is a Dish Best Served Fried” and “Longing To Live/Waiting To Die”.poultrygeiser

And with graphic violence that would make 90’s era Peter Jackson proud and such side-characters as a burqa-clad muslim woman named Hummus, a redneck who loves chicken on an intimate level, a black loudmouth, and a Mexican named Paco Bell (all of them employees at the chicken place and none of them good at their job), its very existence is still so bizarrely offensive that its length is excusable. We can also rest assured that something this over-the-top in its nature is probably not going to give people the epiphany that all muslims/vegans/whatevers must be like this, especially since it takes an equal blow against white Americans and fast food supporters (the latter being the film’s true satire target). It’s simply a piece of mindless fun that takes risks in its spoofing of humanity, is filled with great gore effects in-between jokes, and is ultimately pretty perfect for drunken friends to get together and laugh along with this Halloween without taking its “implications” seriously (even the ones I’d agree with). Basically, even the PC crowd can relax during this one, although they most likely will not.

There are moments where even the violence gets semi-repetitive. Highlights in Poultrygeist include a scene where a morbidly obese man tries some of the cursed restaurant food and defecates so hard and so much that all his fat disappears within the blink of an eye, causing him to shed his excess skin and walk home as a skinny skeleton covered in blood and muscles. There are many equally great moments and while a few extra scenes that cleverly deranged would have been welcome, let’s not complain too much.

Another one of my favorite elements is Lloyd Kaufman himself getting to shine in the role of “Old Arbie”, a man who dons the mascot suit of the chicken joint and claims to be a future version of Arbie. I don’t know for sure what sense that makes but considering the rest of the film, probably none.

Lloyd Kaufman on the set of 'Poultrygeist', which he has called his fowl movement (

Lloyd Kaufman on the set of ‘Poultrygeist’, which he has called his fowl movement (“magnum opus” in Troma-nese).

As stated before, the acting in this film is quite cheesy, but it’s deliberate and it complements the outlandish nature of the film remarkably well. Especially hilarious are the extras who, according to the making-off documentary Poultry In Motion, were not paid, but as a result give such over-the-top ridiculous performances that they steal scenes of which they aren’t even the focus. The documentary also shows how troubled the production was and that Kaufman might be nearly as much of a nutcase director as Tommy Wiseau, as if his cameo on The Angry Video Game Nerd wasn’t enough to give this away.

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead is insane and self-aware in so many of the best ways; its considerably unapologetic violence, its offensive nature towards everything that breathes, its purposefully hammy performances, its cartoony scenarios, and its bold “fuck it all” attitude when it comes to crossing the boundaries of what modern society deems to be okay to talk/joke about and promptly covers those boundaries in explosive diarrhea and fake blood (that still looks better than any digital blood splatter effect in Expendables 3).

Very possibly, it was something along the lines of this film the makers of Movie 43 thought they were making. Too bad their film was both unfunny and “outrageous” exclusively by mainstream standards. Dig deeper, friend, and you shall find a film that genuinely aims to disgust everyone and, as a bonus, actually do it in the right way. Poultrygeist is that film, for there are people who still make ’em like they used to. Hurrah, hurrah.

Well, that feels like a decent way to start of my annual streak of horror-related films. Expect me to post more such reviews for the rest of the month – sans October 21st, where I’ll take a break to celebrate a certain 80’s film franchise. See ya there.

4/5 whatever