WTFW: T’was the night before Thanksgiving

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

WTFW: T’was the night before Thanksgiving

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead is a 2006 musical-comedy horror exploitation film from Troma Entertainment, directed by Lloyd Kaufman from a screenplay by Gabriel Friedman and Daniel Bova.

Written as a satire of the American fast food industry, Poultrygeist follows a group of people trapped inside a New Jersey fried chicken fast food restaurant – the American Chicken Bunker – which is being attacked by chicken-possessed zombie demons after building an establishment on top of sacred Indian burial ground.  At the center of the film is Arbie, an ACB employee trying to win back the heart of his ex-girlfriend Wendy, an activist protesting against the restaurant who has left Arbie for another woman.  BTW, every character name in this film is a blatant reference to a fast food chain.

Taking six years from script to screen, Poultrygeist was officially released on DVD in 2008 following a limited theatrical run, meeting with the highest critical acclaim of any film in Troma's thirty-five year history.  In contrast to Kaufman's previous films, “Terror Firmer” and “Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV”, which heavily referenced and relied on the audience's familiarity of Troma films, Poultrygeist is only loosely connected with the "Tromaverse" yet makes numerous background references to their previous films.  Arbie can be seen wearing an "I Love the Monster Hero" shirt from “The Toxic Avenger” in an early scene, posters of “Tromeo and Juliet” and “When Nature Calls” adorn the walls of Wendy's bedroom, and DVD copies of “Tales from the Crapper” can be seen stuffed in a dumpster.  Most notably, Poultrygeist features the infamous car flip stunt that was originally filmed in 1991 for “Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.” and has been recycled for comic effect in every Kaufman-directed film since.

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)

  • Genre: Comedy – Horror – Musical
  • Directed: Lloyd Kaufman
  • Produced:
    • Andrew Deemer 
    • Michael Herz 
    • Lloyd Kaufman 
    • Pat Swinney Kaufman 
    • Kiel Walker 
    • Benjamin Cord 
    • Jason Foulke 
    • Gabriel Friedman 
    • Nick Koenig
  • Written:
    • Daniel Bova 
    • Gabriel Friedman 
    • Lloyd Kaufman
  • Starring: Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham, Allyson Sereboff, Robin L. Watkins, Joshua Olatunde, Caleb Emerson, Rose Ghavami, Khalid Rivera, Joe Fleishaker, Lloyd Kaufman, Ron Jeremy
  • Music: Duggie Banas
  • Cinematography:
    • Brendan C. Flynt 
    • Lloyd Kaufman
  • Editing: Gabriel Friedman
  • Studio:
    • Poultry Productions LLC 
    • Troma Entertainment
  • Distributed: Troma Entertainment
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: December 26, 2006
  • Running Time: 103 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

High school sweethearts Arbie and Wendy meet the day before Wendy's departure to college to consummate their relationship in the Tromahawk Indian burial ground, promising to each other that no matter what happens, they will always stay faithful to each other.  She is grossed out from Arbie after finding a man jacking off to their love making.  The man is later killed by zombie hands spouting from the ground.  One college semester later, when Arbie returns to the spot of his one (and only) sexual encounter, he is shocked to discover two unsettling realities: not only has the burial ground been bulldozed and replaced by an American Chicken Bunker, a mega-conglomerate fast food franchise, but that college has turned his dear Wendy into a "leftist, lipstick lesbo liberal", protesting the construction of the fried chicken menace with her activist girlfriend Micki.

Disillusioned and out for revenge, Arbie decides to get a job at the American Chicken Bunker.  Under the supervision of paranoid manager Denny, Arbie is thrust into the monotony of minimum wage with a variety of colorful co-workers: the effeminate Mexican Paco Bell, the animal-loving redneck Carl Jr., the burqa-clad Muslim Hummus and a mysterious 60 year-old man in the restaurant's basement who has worked as the restaurant's costumed mascot all his life and has a virtually identical back story to Arbie.

However, strange things are afoot at the American Chicken Bunker.  Paco while grinding meat near the meat grinder is pushed in by an uncooked chicken.  General Lee Roy decides not to do anything, and lets Paco be turned into Sloppy Joses (sic).  Arbie begins to unravel a sinister plot involving the spirits of disenfranchised Native Americans and the billions of slaughtered chickens sent to the "concentration coops" who plan on extracting their revenge in the most gruesome ways possible after being told so by Paco (who is reanimated as a Sloppy Jose).

Carl. Jr who is having sex with an uncooked chicken in the storage room fights the uncooked chicken when it starts biting his penis.  Hummus kills the uncooked chicken by shoving a broom up through his buttocks.  Carl Jr. is injured but stills survives.  General Lee Roy tells them not to take him to a hospital.  He instead tells them to give chicken (which has been spayed with blood green slime) to the protester outside.  Carl Jr. is killed when Arbie gives him alcohol to drink.  After Micki tells the protester that the chicken tastes good, the protester go inside the restaurant to eat chicken.  Wendy finds out that Micki has been paid by General Lee Roy to say that the chicken tastes good she breaks up with Micki and returns to Arbie.  General Lee Roy is given diarrhea after eating a forced upon piece of chicken.  General Lee Roy lays an egg in the bathroom and is attacked by the chicken that comes out the eggs.  He rips of the chickens head with his teeth but is sprayed with green blood.  He becomes a giant egg and hatches into a chicken zombie.  He then decapitate Denny (who telling a story about the first time he encountered a chicken).  The customers, workers, and protesters turns into zombie chickens.

The mascot (Lloyd Kaufman) shoots all the chicken zombies insides with M-16 Machine Gun.  The General Lee Roy zombie returns, but is shot by the mascot.  The mascot then gets his nose ripped by a now zombie chicken Denny.  Then Arbie shoots and kills the zombie chicken Denny.  Wendy turns the open/closed sign to closed which keeps the chicken zombies at bay.  The mascot who is still alive turn tells Arbie that he is his future self.  He then turns into a chicken zombie.  Micki who attempts to escape is turned into a zombie chicken.  Her and the Mascot chicken zombie attack Arbie and Wendy.  Hummus who drinks meat steroid to save the day accidentally kills herself in the process.

Arbie and Wendy realize that beer kills the chicken zombies which they use to kill the Micki and mascot zombie. They run out of beer and is saved by Hummus (who is still alive even though she exploded a few minutes earlier). They find a child hiding in the storage room and are attacked once again by the General Lee Roy chicken.  It is then killed by the Paco sandwich.  Hummus is then shown to have C-4 strapped to her body and tells them that she will sacrifice herself.  Wendy, Arbie, and the little girl escapes as the building explodes.  While driving home in a car the child lays an egg which cause them to crash, exploding the car killing them all.


According to Poultry in Motion, Poultrygeist received the most critical praise of any film in Troma's 30+ year history.  The film has a certified "fresh" rating of 64% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the general critical consensus being that it "may be relentlessly tasteless and juvenile, but it's also a lively slice of schlocky fun".

Professional critics were generally positive towards the film.  Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly awarded the film a B+ rating, calling it "an exploitation movie with soul" and noting "it's genuine sick fun, and there isn't a boring moment in it".  Nathan Lee of The New York Times spoke of the film as being "as perfect as a film predicated on the joys of projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea can be", describing it as "liberating" in a "lowbrow way".  Both New York magazine and Salon.com selected Poultrygeist as a Critic's Pick, the latter calling it "disgusting, deranged and thoroughly brilliant".  Reading into the film's subtext, The Guardian noted the film as "a wonderfully bold satirical comment on the chemical-industrial food complex that poisons us all", summarizing Poultrygeist as "the movie Fast Food Nation could have been if it hadn't sucked".  The Calgary Herald wrote "dismissing Poultrygeist as sheer stupidity – which most will undoubtedly do – is the wrong call...Kaufman has created a rather sharp, if demented, work of political and social satire."  PETA called the film "a vegetarian-manifesto masterpiece", ranking it #1 on their list of "Top 10 Movies That Make You Go Meatless".

On the negative end of the critical spectrum, Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel felt the film "wears out its joke, like all Troma films, long before that last 50-gallon keg of fake blood is tapped...it's a 40-minute short struggling to escape a 103-minute feature", giving it a rating of two out of five stars.  Time Out New York gave the film two out of six stars, claiming its "half-funny" "trashiness" only appeals to horror fans, while Slant Magazine was considerably harsher, rating the film half a star out of four, calling it "superficially turgid" and that its "strangely impressive originality doesn't even close to compensating for its everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink midnight-movie awfulness".   The New York Post, however, while criticizing the film's poor taste, acting and pacing, described the satire as "wicked" and predicted that its flaws wouldn't stop it from becoming an "underground cult hit".

Poultrygeist made national news on January 7, 2011, when Sidney Klawitter, an eccentric from Orland, California, purchased a DVD cleaning kit from a local retailer, only to later discover the cleaner disc was a disguised copy of Poultrygeist.  Klawitter was deeply offended by the film's content, noting "it was horrifying", calling it "a Triple-X rated movie".  According to the owner of the store the cleaner kit was purchased from, the item had come pre-packaged from a warehouse distributor in Oakland, California.  No charges were filed.

Notes:

Lloyd Kaufman (born December 30, 1945) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter and occasional actor.  With producer Michael Herz, he is the co-founder of Troma Entertainment film studio, and the director of many of their feature films, including The Toxic Avenger and Tromeo and Juliet.  Kaufman also serves on the board of the Independent Film & Television Alliance of which he is the former President.

Troma films are B-movies known for their surrealistic or automatistic nature, along with their use of shocking imagery; some would categorize them as "shock exploitation films".  They typically contain overt sexuality, nudity, and intentionally sadistic, gory, and blatant graphic violence, so much that the term "Troma film" has become synonymous with these characteristics.  Troma's slogan is "Movies of the Future".  Troma reuses the same props, actors, and scenes repeatedly, sometimes to save money.  At a certain point, however, this became another hallmark of Troma.  Examples include a severed leg, a penis monster, and the flipping and exploding car filmed for the movie Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD, which is used in place of any other car that needs to crash and explode.

Troma produced or acquired early films featuring several rising talents, such as Carmen Electra (The Chosen One), Billy Bob Thornton (Chopper Chicks in Zombietown), Vanna White (Graduation Day), Kevin Costner (Sizzle Beach, U.S.A.), J. J. Abrams (Nightbeast), Samuel L. Jackson (Def by Temptation), Marisa Tomei (The Toxic Avenger), Vincent D'Onofrio (The First Turn-On!), David Boreanaz (Macabre Pair of Shorts), Paul Sorvino (Cry Uncle!), James Gunn (Tromeo and Juliet), Trey Parker and Matt Stone (Cannibal! The Musical), before they were discovered. Another Academy Award winning director, Oliver Stone, made his debut as an actor in The Battle of Love's Return.

 

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