Review: ‘Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead’

Venture's visual philosophy is, "If you can spew it, do it!".

If Edison and the Lumiere brothers hoped their brainchild would someday depict what happens when a fast-food chicken joint is built on a sacred Indian burial ground, Lloyd “celluloid” Kaufman has fulfilled that latent desire in “Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead.”  While other purveyors of unabashed schlock may offer gratuitous nudity or relentlessly over the top gross-out gore, only Troma offers singing topless lesbians and exploding gunk displays that take up where the punctured glutton in “Monty Python’s the Meaning of Life” left off.  Venture’s visual philosophy is, “If you can spew it, do it!”

Fresh high school grads Arbie (Jason Yachanin) and Wendy (Kate Graham) like to dry-hump in the local cemetery, the ancient Tromahawk Tribe Sacred Burial Ground. Like the entire community, they’re stunned a semester later when  Native American remains are replaced by an American Chicken Bunker franchise. 

By then, Wendy has taken up with forthright lesbian Micki (Allyson Sereboff), who leads an angry mob of anti-corporate protesters from CLAM (Collegiate Lesbians Against Mega-Conglomerates). It’s a diverse crowd — nobody casts gung-ho extras like Troma.

On opening day, angry Indian spirits join forces with chicken carcasses to make their bionic displeasure known. Cue murder most fowl.

Were the field not already littered with films in which song lyrics meld obscenities with references to the work of Robert Frost, or a rectum is severed from its owner and ends up on the kitchen grill, this would qualify as the most original unbridled Troma production of the year. Although comparisons are nearly as scarce as hen’s teeth, pic displays the best line-dancing chicken zombies since Michael Jackson made “Thriller.”

Anyone who’s seen “Nightmare Alley” or “Freaks” knows that men sometimes bite the heads off chickens, but how often do Godzilla-like chickens bite the heads off men?  Every variation on “disgusting” you can think of — and many you can’t — is here.  It’s a veritable “Cluckwork Orange,” but without the sentimentality.

One of the musical romp’s best gags is a hot tip for keeping an army of hungry zombies out of your franchise.  And hardly anybody writes dialogue as heartfelt as, “Eat my meat, you vegan whores!” or “This is not a terrorist thing and this is not a sodomy thing — this is an angry chicken Indian spirit thing!”

After jubilantly tasteless digs at Catholics, Jews (concentration coops  — who knew?) and nondenominational lesbians, it’s always nice when a heavily veiled devout Muslim helps save the day. Anybody opposed to the God-in-His-wisdom factor that rescues humanity in “War of the Worlds” may get an extra chuckle out of the way surviving protags defeat the rampaging chicken zombies (or do they?).

Lowest-common-denominator humor is parsed with morsels of social and political satire but, unsure whether foreign markets would get the sublime pun, intrepid helmer decided not to call pic “Good Night, and Good Cluck.”

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead


A Troma Team release of a Lloyd Kaufman, Michael Herz presentation of a Troma Team production. (International sales: Troma, New York.) Produced by Andy Deemer, Kiel Walker. Executive producers, Kaufman, Herz, Patricia Swinney Kaufman. Directed by Lloyd Kaufman. Screenplay, Daniel Bova, Gabriel Friedman, Kaufman.


Camera (color), Brendan Flynt; editor, Gabriel Friedman; music, Duggie Banas, Jason "Shack" Kozun; production designers, Alyssa Hill, Doug Markuson Jr.; art director, Kevin Sean Michaels; costume designers, Holly Hojnoski, Anna Chiaretta Lavatelli; special effects, Tom Devlin,  David Molloy, Scott Fields; makeup effects, Xochitl Gomez, Chris Bowen; choreographer, Maria Gismondi; assistant director, Caleb Emerson. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 23, 2007. Running time: 99 MIN.


Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham, Allyson Sereboff, Robin L. Watkins, Joshua Olatunde, Khalid Rivera, Rose Ghavami, Caleb Emerson, Joe Fleishaker, Ron Jeremy, Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Debbie Rochon, Lloyd Kaufman.

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