Director: Lloyd Kaufman
Starring: Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham, Allyson Sereboff, Robin Watkins, Joshua Olatunde, Rose Ghavami, Caleb Emerson, Lloyd Kaufman, Khalid Rivera
This is what I call thinking outside the box of chicken nuggets! Troma Entertainment has always been one to embrace what is considered bad taste, so a movie set in a fast food restaurant isn’t much of a reach. They’ve been at their game for a while now, more than enough time to perfect the recipe. “Poultrygeist” represents decades of going “too far” and then continuing down the road a few extra miles. It creates the perfect blend of the usual Troma ingredients (sexual innuendo, profanity, extreme violence, broad overacting, and scatological humor), resulting in a greasy and delicious treat that hits all of the right pleasure centers.
In Tromaville, New Jersey, young lovers Arbie (Jason Yachanin) and Wendy (Kate Graham) have sex in an Indian burial ground. Naturally, this does not turn out to be the smartest of moves. Firstly, they are not alone, as they spot a man masturbating as he watches them. Secondly, just after they have left, a hand reaches up from underground and kills the pervert by punching a hole from his rectum all the way through his mouth. We reconvene one college semester later. Arbie returns to the scene of one of his great life experiences to find that nothing is the same. The burial ground has been paved over, with a fast food chicken chain restaurant called American Chicken Bunker standing in its place and a line of bleeding heart protesters picketing outside. That nothing appears to be sacred would be bad enough, but Arbie also discovers Wendy among the protesters with her new lesbian girlfriend, Micki (Allyson Sereboff). Genuinely hurt, Arbie decides the best way to exact revenge is by taking a job at American Chicken Bunker.
Of course, it would be a pretty short movie if the madness were limited to the protests outside. Arbie’s co-workers at ACB include his manager Denny (Joshua Olatunde), a redneck named Carl Jr. (Caleb Emerson) with a particular “preference” for animals, and a gay Mexican named Paco Bell (Khalid Rivera). If you’re keeping score, you’ll have noticed right away that, in addition to Arbie and Wendy, most of the main characters in this movie are named after fast food franchises. One of the exceptions to this is Hummus, a burqa-wearing Muslim who works alongside Arbie and the others at ACB. She’s also the one who’ll take the initial blame when things start going wrong. Already one harbinger of doom has arrived on the scene in the form of porn star Ron Jeremy, dressed up like Crazy Ralph from the original “Friday the 13th.” Arbie meets two more soon after, one in the form of a “sloppy Jose” sandwich haunted by the spirit of the newly deceased Paco. The other is the restaurant mascot, Col. Cluck (Lloyd Kaufman), a 60-year old man with a background story (and tattoo) so similar to that of Arbie’s that the audience will figure out the connection long before Arbie does. The warnings either arrive too late or fall on deaf ears, because the carnage continues. Hummus has just gotten through cleaning up the mess made by Paco’s death when Carl Jr., who chose the wrong frozen chicken to have intercourse with, makes a mess ten times larger.
Unfortunately, both Wendy and Arbie have been duped into being here by the actions of the same person. Micki is neither a lesbian nor a true activist against the mistreatment of chickens, and has instead been paid by General Lee Roy (Robin Watkins) to sing the praises of American Chicken Bunker, thereby ensuring that the easily-swayed protesters join all the regular customers inside the place for some quality fast food. All he’s really done is sign everyone’s death warrant, including his own. Having bitten into some tainted chicken meat to prove it’s safe and delicious for everyone, the General literally lays an egg in the bathroom. He manages to kill the resulting zombie chicken embryo, but not before it spews green slime all over him, zombifying him. All of the customers have become zombies, too, and it’s up to Arbie, Wendy and Hummus to stop them. Zombie chicken versions of the dead General, Denny, and Carl Jr. all run amok and must be killed. While Micki and the older Arbie are helpful at first, they aren’t long for this world, either. Hilariously, Hummus gets two explosive death scenes, one where she drinks steroids meant for the chicken and she literally blows up, and the second where she detonates C-4 strapped to her body, destroying the restaurant and allowing Arbie and Wendy to escape with a five-year old survivor. But they are spooked when the girl lays an egg, and they crash their getaway vehicle in appropriately over-the-top fashion.
“Poultrygeist” is another satisfying experience from the good people at Troma Entertainment. Although set in the same town of Tromaville, it shares no continuity with other films by Lloyd Kaufman and the gang. Despite this, there are plenty of references, such as Arbie’s ‘I ♥ the Monster Hero’ T-shirt from “The Toxic Avenger,” posters for “Tromeo and Juliet” and “When Nature Calls,” and DVD copies of “Terror Firmer.” Additionally, the car crash at the end is lifted directly from “Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.”
This movie gives its audience everything it could want and more. You have the usual onslaught of violent images (decapitations, impalements, meat grinder misfortunes, etc.), coupled with an unexpectedly large and hilarious amount of musical numbers. Some may actually find themselves struggling through these early parts of the movie prior to the carnage, but not me. When the actors themselves are not contributing to the soundtrack, various American punk bands take over. The best of these is “Poultrygeist” by Calimari Safari (a.k.a. New Found Glory).
If there are lines of political incorrectness to be crossed, “Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead” makes sure to cross as many of them as possible. The topical humor is a risk, though only because it dates the movie. No comedian ever did his job right by playing it safe, and Lloyd Kaufman makes no exception with “Poultrygeist.” As addictive as fast food but far more healthy for the soul, it’s guaranteed to fill you up… with laughter.