Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)
By: Devon B. on November 16, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Troma (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 99 minutes
The Movie
Director: Lloyd Kaufman
Starring: Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham, Allyson Sereboff, Robin L. Watkins, Joshua Olatunde, Caleb Emerson, Rose Ghavami, Khalid Rivera, Lloyd Kaufman
Screenplay: Gabriel Friedman, Daniel Bova, Lloyd Kaufman
Country: USA
External Links
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As this review was way overlong, in the interest of brevity I 'm going to keep the synopsis brief. All you really need to know is that in Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead a fast food restaurant is built on an Indian burial ground. Ron Jeremy comes to warn the staff that the Indian spirits aren't too happy a la Crazy Ralph from Friday the 13th, then orders some chicken 'cause he now has trouble getting his own cock in his mouth. His warning naturally goes unheeded, and the spirits begin causing problems and zombie chicken madness ensues.

While there are the usual groan inducing moments that one finds in a Troma movie, Poultrygeist is a bit of an odd experience for the Troma fan, because it's actually a decent satire. I enjoy the wackiness of a Troma film, but this is one you could show to anyone - provided it's someone that's okay with explosive diarrhoea and excessive gore in their movies. Troma have often used the excuse of doing things intentionally camp or bad (like the severed head character in Citizen Toxie) because they were making fun of other movies, but here Troma appear to be actually trying to make everything as good as they can with their resources. Most things work in this film; even the talking sandwich that had me wincing in the trailer seems fine in context. The cast have a grasp on the material, and know how to play it. Not that the cast should be building display shelves for Oscars anytime soon, but they generally do a good job.

I thought Poultrygeist wasn't reaching Troma levels of zaniness until the geeking of a zombie chicken puppet, but after that there's a cavalcade of chicken zombies and gore and I realised something totally bizarre. Poultrygeist had been building. You're pulled into this movie, and it doesn't go fully off until it's got you hooked. Weird stuff is happening, but aside from a few gore and gross out scenes early on, the film is almost restrained. What's going on? Well, I have a theory. This movie is co-written by editor Gabe Friedman, who has made it known he wanted to work at Troma to help the studio return to form, and who also had a key role in the excellent making ofs we've been seeing from Troma for the past few years. I think Gabe steered the script with some foresight to how he would cut the film and perhaps more importantly kept Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, in check. Having worked at Troma for years, Gabe clearly has developed a rapport with Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, and is willing to stand up to him, even when he's in full manic mode, in order to keep the film focused. It wasn't uncommon in the behind the scenes footage of other Troma projects to see crew give up in exasperation when Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, was going nutzoid on the set, but in the behind the scenes for Poultrygeist Gabe is seen holding firm and keeping his sights on the quality of the end product. Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, is a funny man who can be very creative, and I think Gabe has helped bring his best to the fore.

The film is completely unPC, but done the right way where everything's a target. Fast Food Nation was clearly an inspiration, but propaganda from either side of the animal rights argument is attacked. Poultrygeist's script often takes a joke as far as you expect it to go in a Troma movie, but then the lead character just pushes it one clever step further. I also liked that most of the main characters are named after fast food chains, though a few of the chains thankfully haven't made it to Australia.yet.so this may be lost on local audiences. However, Troma fans worldwide will get the final joke, and it got a big laugh from me.

Now I haven't got so on Troma's dick to think everything in Poultrygeist works. There're a few dud gags, some of the FX aren't all that special, and the male frontal nudity has been reduced compared to the last few movies so female and gay fans may feel overlooked. The main thing that might put people off is that Poultrygeist is a musical. Reportedly inspired by Takashi Miike's brilliant Happiness of the Katakuris Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, decided to become a song and dance man himself. I think what was missed about Happiness was that the songs themselves weren't jokes, but rather it was their delivery or choreography that made them funny. Troma have opted to make the songs themselves humorous, which makes some of the numbers a bit forced. Regardless, this was hugely ambitious for Troma to tackle, even if the songs aren't always successful. Sometimes they're too challenging for the singers, and sometimes the songs seem unfinished. Fortunately each song usually improves on the last, though one of the best songs was cut for some reason. If you ever wanted to see Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, attempt to dance and sing you're in luck. If you didn't, you're shit out of it.

If you've ever liked a Troma movie, you have to see Poultrygeist, which in more ways than one gives new meaning to the term cockfight. Even if you've snubbed Troma in the past, give it a chance, because you should be pleasantly surprised by how well done it is. If Gabe wanted to return Troma to form, I think he's failed, because Poultrygeist is without question the best constructed Troma movie ever. Poultrygeist isn't my new favourite Troma movie, but if the first two songs had been better realised, it may well have been.
The film is shot on 35mm and is 16:9 enhanced. Wow! There's grain, specks and spots, but it looks better than other recent Troma movies. Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, and his wife Patricia had to use their savings to help finance this movie, and the improved quality is right here for you to see.
Audio is a two channel mix. It features some noticeable ADR early on, which is usually because of added jokes. There is some distortion in bits of dialogue, which can be distracting at times.
Extra Features
The first 15,000 DVDs of Poultrygeist are a 3 disc affair.

The first DVD kicks off with a skit and introduction from Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, about bootleggers getting the movie to people before Troma could. The first disc has a commentary; the cinematic jewel (In case you've forgotten what that means, in my review of Lollilove Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, said Troma trailers are not mere trailers, but actually cinematic jewels); as well as an unrated cinematic jewel; the theme song's music video; the count Smokula remix of the theme song video; and the cinematic jewels for Terror Firmer, Citizen Toxie, Class of Nuke 'Em High, and Tromeo and Juliet. Making its debut on a Troma DVD is the Radiation March short. The commentary features Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, and Gabe. Both these guys are good at commentaries, as demonstrated on previous Troma discs, so the two together deliver a good 'un. They're happy to rip on each other, and Gabe is especially happy to rip on DP Brendan Flynt. Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, says that oddly Troma has received no objections to the racial stuff, so I guess everyone got the jokes! The issues with making a musical are discussed, and little references you might not have caught are pointed out.

Disc 2 is where this DVD set shines, containing the feature length making of Poultry in Motion: Truth is Stranger than Chicken. Gabe isn't as involved this time in the making of, having focused on the main film, and as a result Poultry in Motion isn't as good as Apocalypse Soon. Another factor may be the lack of those wonderful stunt men with creative uses of math terminology who added such hilarity for the viewer in Apocalypse Soon. It's probably a good thing to have the main movie be better than the supplement, and Poultry in Motion is still very entertaining. As usual, Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, snaps straight away and lots of cast members wait and wait and wait for when they'll eventually be needed. I think the pearl of information for budding filmmakers is that it may be easier to shoot nude scenes at a church than in a dilapidated fast food place. There's also footage from the New York premiere of Poultrygeist, featuring interviews with the cast and crew and a Q&A which explains the censored bits. The second disc also has lots of additional behind the scenes type material. The Make Your Own Damn Movie promo segues into some more stuff about making a movie. These are the filming of the climactic explosion and sound designing, which features grown men trying to sound like evil chickens. Also included are a bit of the song recording process, some guys trying to get a suit off a mould, a rooftop re-shoot to get Debbie Rochon in the movie, the filming of the meat grinder scene, and Joe Fleishaker getting a head cast done. Lastly there're a few rough deleted scenes: Ron Jeremy's final speech, Charlotte Kaufman's death scene, a bomb scenario, and the deleted song. The fact that there are so few deleted scenes, when there's often so much extra footage shot by Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, furthers my theory that Gabe kept him in reign, and two slight bits of evidence is all I need to pronounce myself entirely right.

Disc 3 is mostly "Kara-Yolk-E," featuring all the songs in karaoke format. The great theme song has to be played with the vocal track, but the others can be played with or without the vocals. The deleted song is included, but for some reason the final song of the film isn't. There're also a few more cinematic jewels: Poultrygeist's (again), the complete Toxic Avenger box, Special Needs (which looks like it might be good to me), Bloodspit, Coons, and Crazy Animal.

Eggs? How could you not on a movie about zombie chickens?

Disc one has most of the eggs, and they're all very easy to access. There're three eggs here, and all are accessed the same way. On the main menu, press down on "Deep Fried Extras" to highlight the register. Press enter to see a brief interview with Trey Parker (further reinforcing the rumour he's in the film somewhere). From this register, press right to highlight the next register. Hit enter to see a very funny promo for Special Needs. Press right again and hit enter to see Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, present a message from IFTA, which is about freedom on the internets.

On disc two's main menu, press right on anything to highlight the ass crack. Press enter to see the uncensored shitting scene. On the deleted scenes menu, press right on "Main Menu" to highlight the camera. Press enter to see more of Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, than you could ever want.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
For Troma fans this is a no brainer, and even those that have been put off Troma should take a look. This isn't the usual "Troma are getting better" recommendation; Poultrygeist is leaps and bounds ahead of their usual calibre. I like ridiculous musicals, so would even be very happy to have Troma give songs another go. While Poultrygeist is still held back a bit by its budget, I'd love to see Troma keep up this standard. Of course, for that to happen, the film will have to perform well on DVD, so, as suggested in the intro on the DVD, beware the bootlegs. If you've already enjoyed the film through other means, you should still pick up the set for the making of and other extras, or else you're a fuckstick.

There've been a couple of reviews on Digital Retribution lately that say the film reviewed out Tromas Troma. I present Poultrygeist as irrefutable proof that that is just not possible.

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