Friday, 13 September 2013

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead - review

2006 (USA)

Contains mild spoilers.

Poultrygeist is a fowl, eggspoloitative orgy of the hensane; full of oeufensive imagery and bad yokes. Yes I did write that, no I'm not sorry.

Even though I knew what I'd be letting myself in for with a such a stupid title and knowing it was a Troma film, I still wasn't prepared for just how far they would take it. Make no bones about it; Poultrygeist is the most excessive, audaciously obscene and stupid film I think I've ever seen. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, director, producer and co-writer Lloyd Kaufmann wasn't prepared to shoot and the results are both shocking and spectacular.

Arbie (Jason Yachanin) has returned to the site of his only sexual liaison, an Indian burial ground, only to find it's been bulldozed over and an American Chicken Bunker fast food franchise has been built on top. Outside he stumbles into his lost love Wendy (Kate Graham), who's back from college after one semester taking part in the protest against the maltreatment of the mass produced chickens with her girlfriend Micki (Allyson Sereboff). Offended and angry Arbie decides he'll show her, by getting a minimum wage job in the restaurant.

It doesn't take long for the spirits of the dead Indians to mix with the existential angst of millions of mistreated dead chickens for the restaurant to become ground zero for the zombie chicken apocalypse. The food is possessed, the food is eaten, people die, chicken burgers speak, shit, vomit and blood all flow in equal and gratuitously large quantities, and protestors, staff and customers alike all combine in a giant orgy of repulsive silliness that you have to see to believe. Add to the mix as many offensive or controversial stereotypes as you can to parody and poke fun at, totally gross and unnecessary slapstick scenes at every opportunity, and you have a film that people will either admire for its sheer audacity or actively wince at and condemn.

Did I also mention it's a musical. I was a little hesitant when I read about song and dance routines on the back sleeve but I needn't have been. In the best tradition of South Park crossed with Rocky Horror the musical interludes are daft, witty and deliberately both childish, satirical and offensive. I say offensive, but as with the entirity of the film, it's all handled in such a childish and glib manner to not actually cause offense. I'll admit there's a fine line being tred, but by simultaneously firing shots at everyone and everything, with no one coming out on top, it almost acts to nullifies any or all the intent. All that's really left is the offensiveness itself and there's no real victims.

Zombie chickens are a first, I'll admit and they're a nasty looking thing. I should mention that, as is the Troma way, the vast majority of those working on the film did so voluntarily and for free. Extras flew in from all over the world to aid on set, play one of the many extras required or to help with make-up. For such an amateur, low budget affair I thought they all did a stand out job and somehow they got the zombie-poultry hybrid to actually work. They're an unsightly abomination, as are the myriad of obscene and outlandish sequences that occupy most of the film leading us up to their full on introduction.

Again, for unknown names the acting is first rate perfectly capturing the tone of the film. The dialogue is  sharp and stupid, the actors play their hyper-realised parodies with gay abandon and despite all the gratuitous nudity the film never feels it's sexually exploitative; just the opposite, promoting natural real beauty. The narrative is as coherent as it needs to be, the extras do more than stand in the background making up the numbers and action flows from outlandish scene to song at pace.

Sometimes a film comes along that perfectly understands confident and professional film making and the desire to produce something that stands up amongst its peers, but does so without losing the atrocious b-movie that lies at its heart. Anyone could come up with the dumb idea of possessed zombie chickens, but to actually produce it with style, vision and professionalism is commendable.

Poultrygeist is an orgy of the ridiculous; a vomit inducing slapstick farce of biblical proportions. My partner actually commented three quarters of the way through she'd wished she'd not eaten just before it started; and even though she does have a weak stomach I can't help but agree it's not one for the squeamish and possibly the grossest film I've ever seen. It does have a few issues; I felt the pacing fell away through an overly drawn out middle section and it is kind of a one trick pony that slightly over plays its joke but the fact my complaints are so few and minor given not only the nature of the film but how it was put together surprises even me. A chicken-shit crazy bad trip into excessive no holds-barred film making, it's lame, stupid, crude, vulgar and clucking (sorry) fantastic, 9/10.



  1. You write very well-like a young ErNEST HENingway

    1. Thanks, though I knew going with puns would come back to haunt me.

  2. Hah, that was a fun read - Poultrygeists will be on the top of my list of must-have zombies from now on. All the best, Kasper