The Austin Chronicle

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead

Not rated, 103 min. Directed by Lloyd Kaufman. Starring Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham, Allyson Sereboff, Robin L. Watkins, Joshua Olatunde, Caleb Emerson, Rose Ghavami, Khalid Rivera, Lloyd Kaufman.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Dec. 7, 2007

Writer/director and all-around film impresario Kaufman is back with what is sure to be the newest star in the Troma galaxy. Perhaps a dubious distinction, but "distinction" has never been the objective of Troma Entertainment, the independent production company Kaufman has headed for the last four decades with his partner, Michael Herz. Troma films are recognizable by their combination of low budgets and high camp, exposed skin and decomposed bodies, genre spoofs and Hollywood goofs. Even though Troma's gore and T&A quotients may be high, the films remain a matter of the flesh being willing but the production values weak. There's also always the sense that you and your friends could create as much mayhem and fun in your own back yards were you to have enough fake blood, semen, and excrement and confidence in your unstudied acting skills. Co-written by Kaufman, Gabriel Friedman, and Daniel Bova, Poultrygeist is a zombie comedy that's full of jokes, puns, chicken suits, and barbs flung in the direction of the fast-food industry. The film begins with high school seniors Arbie (Yachanin) and Wendy (Graham) dry-humping in the local cemetery, which is the site of ancient Tromahawk Indian burial grounds. (All the movie's main characters are named after food icons: Arbie, Wendy, Micki, Denny, Carl Jr., Paco Bell, and Colonel Kluck.) The grounds are razed to make way for the military-themed chicken chain, American Chicken Bunker, where Arbie gets a job after Wendy goes off to college and turns into a lesbian. The chickens become possessed by the souls of the dead Native Americans and escape from their "concentration coops" and take revenge on the franchise's patrons. The plot steadily degenerates as spewing geysers of various bodily fluids overtake center stage. Pauses for musical interludes dot the first half of Poultrygeist but are mysteriously absent in the latter section (until a tribute to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video ushers in the closing credits). Cameos from Ron Jeremy and Debbie Rochon are thrown in for good measure, and, actually, it seems that no idea has been tossed out once entered in the hopper. Which is too bad, because Poultrygeist would definitely benefit from some belt-tightening, which would probably make some of the film's excesses look less like, well, excess. The film's fowl play recognizes no bounds.

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