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October 8, 2010

Movie Review: Poultreygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006, Blu-Ray)

by Jeff Dolniak

Directed by: Lloyd Kaufman

Few people in the history of independent filmmaking have been able to accumulate such a grand resume of cult classics as Poultreygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead writer, director, producer and co-star Lloyd Kaufman has been able to accumulate over the past 35 years. Lloyd's company, Troma films has contributed more, tits, shit-jokes, handicapped gags, exploding heads, evisceration, social commentary, pustule-poppings, dick jokes, rabid senior-citizens, non-porn Ron Jeremy cameos, urination, toxic super-humans, redneck zombies, Joe Fleishaker (AKA Michael Herz) moments, singing cannibals than most (or all) independent companies I can think of. Yes, there's more stuff I'm leaving out...but you get it. Some of the details in the sentence above may not be your cup of toxic goo, but for the most part, this reviewer has had plenty of cinematic memories via Troma productions. With the likes of tasteless splatter classics, such as, The Toxic Avenger, Bloodsucking Freaks, Troma's War, Class of Nukem High, Tromeo and Juliet, Redneck Zombies, Combat Shock and others; Troma -while certainly not always hitting the mark- has set a bar for fans of extreme cult cinema. That bar is something they...themselves must compete with. That brings me to Troma's most recent production -recently released on Blu-Ray- of the horror-comedy Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead.

Buy Poultreygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead on Blu-Ray

Like a large percentage of Troma DVDs and Blu-Ray's produced over the past 13 years, we start out with an introduction (Blu-ray exclusive) by Troma president, Lloyd Kaufman. Many of these comical intros can range from awful to downright hilarious. This particular one is fairly funny as it covers the wonderful new technology of "Brown-Ray". This segment wallows in scatological humor; which may be why I liked it. Right after we get see "Brown-Ray" do its magic (A fugly transsexual transforms into a knock-out and Lloyd's face becomes smeared with fecal matter) our feature, Poultreygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead starts. Poultreygeist opens in a graveyard, where our hero, Arby (Jason Yachanin) is getting a little dry hump action with his girlfriend, Wendy (Kate Graham). Unbeknownst to them, Arby and his lady are being watched by a lecher-who looks kind of like Clint Howard and Judah Friedlander's love-child, masturbating furiously to their public loving. Oh, and then there is a zombie who joins the fun by sticking its finger in Arby's anus. Arby's oblivious to the disturbed dead below him, but slightly creeped out by Mr. Wanky, so they jet. Now the Lecher is all alone…or is he? Our masturbating madman is stopped mid-climax when up from the ground comes a zombie arm (entering his ass and exiting our peepers mouth). And THIS is just the beginning!

Arby needs a job in the worst way, so he ventures on over to the local fast-food joint, American Chicken Bunker and meets with the manager, General Lee Roy (Robin Watkins). General Lee Roy is so impressed with the young man that he brings him aboard where Arby soon meets a variety of interesting folks, including Mature Arby (Lloyd Kaufman). Arby finds out shortly in his position, that adjusting to his job won't be easy with an ancient Indian spirit haunting the establishment. The trademark over-the-top gore and rampant tastelessness ensues with: Chicken zombies tearing patrons to bits, lesbian and straight fast-food restaurant sex, random, completely ridiculous songs (Most, surprisingly funny and well-written), and most importantly Joe Fleishaker shitting himself to death.

The acting in Poultreygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead is very good for a Troma film. The fact that the leads could do some of the crazy musical numbers, in addition to acting -in such an already physically demanding film- is a prime example of how talented this group of actors was. Robin Watkins and Jason Yachanin are especially impressive as Arby and General Lee Roy. Kaufman is also very funny humorous as, Mature Arby. Gabe Friedman's script -for what's essentially a modern-day "Grindhouse" film- is very sharp, doesn't drag, on the least bit, and it truly provides an appeal that will give fans, who aren't quite into musicals, great enjoyment (especially if they love farts).

The extra features for Poultreygeist are very extensive: - Two audio commentaries: One by director Lloyd Kaufman and writer/editor Gabe Friedman and another (Blu-Ray exclusive commentary) by stars Jason Yachanin and Kate Graham

- "Poultry in Motion" Documentary

- Interview with Troma star Joe Fleishaker

- Sexy rooftop re-shoot

- Explosion effect featurette

- Ron Jeremy's "alternate happy ending"

- Troma's first egg-a-morphic widescreen presentation

- Music videos, deleted scenes, trailers, thighs the limit

- Blu-Ray exclusive introduction by Lloyd Kaufman

The true gems of the supplements are the "Poultry in Motion" documentary and the two audio commentaries. Lloyd Kaufman and Gabe Friedman are both quite good on the commentary track, exchanging hilarious anecdotes about the eccentric director of photography, Brendan Flynt, as well as more -very welcome- Joe Fleishaker stories and also elaborating on various events from what seemed to be a hellish shoot. In "Poultry in Motion" -much like the feature-length documentaries on Terror Firmer and Citizen Toxie fans get to see what really goes on during a Troma film shoot. It's certainly not pretty, but I guarantee you, when you flip it on, it will be tough to turn away from the true carnage…the behind-the-scenes. The image quality for the blu-ray of Poultreygeist is solid and shows a slight improvement on the DVD -black levels seemed better in the graveyard and skin tones have more detail-. The audio didn't have any noticeable differences. Don't expect things to pop off the screen, but for an independent production, its quality 1080p.

The bar was set high -or low, depending on your taste- 26 years ago when The Toxic Avenger was unleashed upon unsuspecting cult film fans. Now with Poultreygeist: Night Of the Chicken Dead, fans get a truly unique, disgusting, and yes, hilarious addition to the Troma library; that surely will meet the expectations that we already have of the "classic" Troma entries(such as "Toxic"). Being presented now, on the blu-ray format and equipped with new extra bonuses -not on the DVD- fans now have a superb release to embrace for one of the best Troma films ever produced.

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