When watching a Troma film you have to be ready for the following: lowbrow humor, filthy gore, boobs, and an undeniable charm. For the longest time, Troma was top tits when it came to low budget sleazegore with such classics as THE TOXIC AVENGERS, RABID GRANNIES, REDNECK ZOMBIES, and THE KILLER CONDOM. You could always count on some splatterific gore, some jiggling chesticles, and a few belly laughs that sometimes made you feel a little bad for laughing. Though recent Troma efforts have kind of lost their steam, POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD for the most part has all of the charm, tits, and gore that put Troma on the map in the first place.
The most surprising thing for me about POULTRYGEIST is that it’s a musical. Even more surprising than that, turns out it isn’t necessarily a bad one. Though the songs aren’t perfect some are astonishingly well written, especially the films’ opener, the surprisingly operatic “Revenge is a Dish Best Served Fried”…
Though my favorite is the romantic duet between the leads entitled “I Sure Miss Getting My Salad Tossed”, but I couldn’t find the video for that one. I was surprised by both the choreography and catchiness of all of these tunes and have to give it up to writer/director Lloyd Kaufman for giving his all to this film.
The story follows two star crossed lovers: Albie, a clueless guy just trying to get laid, and Wendy, his high school sweetheart who leaves for college and returns with a lesbian girlfriend and a hatred for corporate food chains. Brokenhearted, Albie decides to get a job at the American Chicken Bunker which was erected over the Native American graveyard where Albie and Wendy used to dry hump the night away. Of course, in true POLTERGEIST fashion, only the headstones were moved in order to build the chicken restaurant and soon, mysterious demon eggs are popping up in the value meals causing disgusting displays of poopitude, vomiticity, and other fluid-splat in the bathroom and turning all of the customers into chicken/zombie hybrids.
The performances by the nerdy Arbie (Jason Yachanin) and the nubile Wendy (Kate Graham) are pretty good and both leads have great singing voices, though their acting is a bit less convincing. Lloyd Kaufman shows up as a Chicken Bunker employee with a similar backstory to Albie’s and serves as a mirror into a possible future for the down and out kid. Kaufman and Albie share a well crafted song and dance talking about the future in the backroom of the shop which serves as yet another catchy moment of the movie. The rest of the cast doesn’t really have a lot to do other than provide opportunities for stereotypical humor such as a fat guy who blows up a bathroom after eating a contaminated egg and a homosexual Mexican man who masturbates into the food and gets turned into a Sloppy Jose. The stereotypical humor is sure to offend some more sensitive types, but the clichés are so broad, even members of the races, genders, or lifestyles lampooned here would have to laugh at the ludicrousness of it all. Probably the character in worst taste is Jihad Jane, an Islamic food service worker who brandishes just about every Middle Eastern cliché Kaufman could think of.
POULTRYGEIST falls apart in the last half hour when the attention is shifted away from the songs and character and more on wonky camera extreme close-ups on gore and somewhat shoddy special effects, but there’s a good hour prior that I was truly impressed by the skill, effort and charm put forth by the entire cast and crew to make this into a legitimate film. Though it wavers in the final act, the ending of this one is especially fun and turns out to be a nice saving grace. With some fun songs, some true Troma gore, lower than low humor, and some very attractive chickadees frolicking about, POULTRYGEIST is one of the stronger Troma efforts in recent memory.