How much politically incorrect, defecation-filled, blood-laced, bare-bosomed, anus-violating imbecility can one movie musical contain? Director Lloyd Kaufman, the director of Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead and the man behind Troma Entertainment, has proven there are clearly no limits.
Certainly, this will be no surprise to any of the fans of Mr. Kaufman and his Troma ventures. The creative force behind such cult classics as The Toxic Avenger series, Class of Nuke 'Em High, and Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD has clearly proven over the years that he can take on any liberal concern (e.g. nuclear waste) and KABOWEE! Just add a few horny, mentally anguished individuals to confront this urban blight, spread about a lot of bad monster makeup and a few hundred tasteless jokes, allow the hemoglobin to spurt, and the result is often a spectacular ode to vulgarity that you can't pull yourself away from no matter how hard you might try. Just imagine John Waters with several very long, rusty nails hammered through his skull, add a few drops of eau de Russ Meyers, and you get Lloyd Kaufman.
The plot here, as it did with the Steven Spielberg's classic Poltergeist (1982), revolves around desecrated Indian burial grounds. In the original, greedy real estate whores sold American dream houses built upon these sacred tribal graves, causing children to disappear in closets, spirits to chatter through TV sets, houses to implode, and skeletons to backstroke in one's swimming pool. Poultrygeist's villains, however, are stand-ins for KFC, Denny's, and MacDonald's; as Kaufman avows in his production notes, "Giant, devil-worshiping conglomerates today control the food & media we consumeâ€”and it's the media that perpetuates the hegemony of a restaurant industry that is literally killing us and turning us into McNugget-craving zombies."
Viewers will have to wait awhile for the onslaught of the feathered zombies, because the film begins with the nerdie hero Arbie (the affable Jason Yachanin) trying to have sex with his high school sweetheart Wendy (the delicious Kate Graham) at the Tromahawk Tribal Indian Burial Ground.
Before the dry humping can get wet, a sex pervert with an axe shows up, along with an Indian spirit who loses his finger up Arbie's rectum. Has true love ever run so smooth?
Skip ahead a year. Wendy has just returned from college, where she's prospered both mentally and sexually. Arbie, on the other hand, has remained home to take care of his blind and mentally deficient parents. Can the two reunite and continue their friction sex?
No way! Wendy's now into girls, and she's only in town to protest the opening of an American Chicken Bunker outlet. She's not alone. Her fellow liberals include the members of Collegiate Lesbians Against Mego-Conglomerates plus hundreds of angry town folk, some who are reading The Elitist Guide to Protesting.
To revenge this betrayal, Arbie gets a job in the Bunker just before all hell breaks loose. Yes, everyday folks will soon be pecked to death by angry chicken-men. Those are the lucky ones who are not ground to death for burger meat, French fried, or forced to lay gigantic eggs. I won't even tell you what happens to the guy who makes love to frozen bird carcasses or why another poor soul shouts, "Drop that rectum!"
What I can state is that next to Troma's release of the German-language Killer Condom, this zany, high-kickin', forever clucking, fecal-matter-spattered fun fest is Troma at its best. This is a Sweeney Todd for lowlifes. Gleefully revolting fare has never been so embraceable.
Warning: There are side effects to this film. I truthfully have not been able to eat chicken for three days now. I tried again yesterday and couldn't get past the first bite. I guess this makes Poultrygeist a must-see for vegans.
EXTRA: Click here to see a musical number from Poultrygeist that was too politically incorrect for even Kaufman to include in the final cut. â€“ Brandon Judell
Mr. Judell, who's currently teaching "Contemporary Israeli/Palestinian Cinema" at City College, has written on film for The Village Voice, indieWire, Detour, and dozens of other publications.