Poultrygeist Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Troma
Directed by Lloyd Kaufman
Written by Gabe Friedman
2006, No region coding, 103 minutes, Not rated
Blu-ray released on February 23rd, 2010
Jason Yachanin as Arbie
Kate Graham as Wendy
Allyson Sereboff as Micki
Joshua Olatunde as Denny
Lloyd Kaufman as Mature Arbie
Arbie and Wendy are dry-humping in the old Tromahawk Indian Burial Ground until a masturbating peeper shows up and scares them away. One college semester later the two are reunited at the same burial ground location, only now it is the site of a brand new American Chicken Bunker fast food restaurant. Arbie (Jason Yachanin) is there with some friends laughing at the crowd of protestors, but soon his world is turned upside down at the discovery that Wendy (Kate Graham) is protesting with her new lesbian lover, Micki (Allyson Sereboff).
Arbie applies for a job at the restaurant out of spite and is hired as the new counter girl. His manager Denny (Joshua Olatunde) shows him around before opening the doors for business. The surrounding staff is made up of painful stereotypes ranging from the gay Mexican kitchen worker named Paco Bell to the burkha-clad Hummus, a woman who is the target of every terrorist joke possible. Soon the place is filled with customers, but what no one realizes is that the chicken is possessed by the angry spirits from the burial ground. Anyone who eats the tainted food will either become a feathered zombie or a giant chicken monster.
For more than three decades Lloyd Kaufman has championed the low-budget filmmaker and the fight for independent cinema. His films may be crammed with toilet humor and screwball comedy mayhem all wrapped up in a giant blood-filled condom, but Kaufman is a romantic and he includes a simple message of moral value in each of his movies.
Never known to shy away from gross-out humor, Lloyd pressure washes the screen with geysers of blood and other fluids. Fans of Troma will recognize many familiar faces among the cast, including Joe Fleishaker (Troma’s War) and Ron Jeremy (Terror Firmer). Newcomers who can get past the full-frontal assault on their senses may catch themselves recommending the title to friends and humming at least one of the catchy songs from the soundtrack on their way to work the next day.
Newcomers Jason Yachanin and Kate Graham give solid performances that provide an emotional center to this Troma hurricane. Both have strong comic timing and take the material seriously even during its most extreme sequences. No one in the cast has a particularly strong singing voice, but that’s part of the film’s charm. Lloyd Kaufman appears as “Mature” Arbie, and performs a duet with Yachanin that while playful in delivery, contains lyrics that resonate. In the song, the older man regrets having wasted decades of his life and tries to stop repeating the same mistakes.
There is an energy to this picture that is absent from countless mainstream high-dollar cinema offerings, as the Troma team throws everything they’ve got at the audience including the kitchen sink. Kaufman’s tireless strides as a director reach new levels, as this time around he tackles another genre, the movie musical. The numbers appear more frequently in the first half of the picture before taking a backseat to the zombie epidemic, yet return in time for the grand finale.
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead has received the strongest reviews of any Troma movie since Tromeo & Juliet (1996). Gabe Friedman’s script never hesitates to throw numerous gags simultaneously at the screen that play on multiple levels without pause. The sight gags and bad puns are matched with fart jokes and gratuitous bodily harm, yet he manages to include sly references to modern day classics including a nice riff on a key monologue from Jaws. The script is smarter than some may give credit, but upon repeat viewing the complexity of delivering an anti-corporate message within a love story surrounded by absurdity is quite impressive.
Video and Audio:
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec (at an average bitrate of 13Mbps), Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead sports a high-quality reproduction of the original elements. The picture is given a solid 1.78:1 widescreen transfer.
When compared to the standard DVD, there are many noticeable differences. Some shots have been altered for the Blu-ray release including the re-framing of key scenes and extended reaction shots involving the protestors. The picture is brighter than the DVD and as a direct result there is noticeable print damage that slipped by unnoticed before. Colors are brighter in Blu, but appear richer on the DVD as is the case with some black levels.
Dolby Digital 2.0 is the only audio option provided for the feature, and while serviceable it would have been nice had the track been opened up to 5.1 or given a lossless presentation.
There are some astounding elements provided here that despite the 25GB disc fit nicely on one platter. The supplements are all presented in standard (480p) definition and are ported over from the previous DVD release, with the exception of a new HD intro featuring Lloyd Kaufman and a sexy Tromette trumpeting the arrival of “Brown-Ray”.
Returning from the DVD is the highly entertaining commentary track featuring director Lloyd Kaufman and writer/editor Gabe Friedman. The track is filled with production tales and is an easy listen as the two play well off of each other.
A new commentary by stars Jason Yachanin and Kate Graham has been recorded for the Blu-ray, and both actors are instantly likeable. Unfortunately they were recorded separately and edited together, thus eliminating the natural back and forth discussions they would have had were they in the same room.
The 82-minute documentary “Poultry in Motion: Truth is Stranger than Chicken” is a must-see for fans of Troma or anyone interested in the horrors of low-budget filmmaking. Gabe Friedman (writer and editor of Poultrygeist) deserves a lot of credit for the superior documentaries that have appeared on several Troma DVDs, including Terror Firmer and Toxic Avenger Part IV: Citizen Toxie, and it is fitting that this doc is every bit as good as the finished feature.
Deleted scenes arrive next with a look at a few extra kills and an excised musical number called “S-U-I-C-I-D-E”.
A series of featurettes offer glimpses at specific elements of the production including the explosion of the restaurant (15 minutes), the creation of the sound design (23 minutes) involving grown men clucking like chicken zombies, and a segment of filming the meat grinder (4 minutes).
The “Sexy Rooftop Re-shoot” (6 minutes) offers a glimpse at Debbie Rochon’s cameo and additional nudity shot the same day.
The infamous Joe Fleishaker appears in two short pieces, the first “Joe Fleishaker gets a head mold” (8 minutes) is pretty self explanatory and the other is an interview with Joe at home (3 minutes.)
A brief look at the recording of the songs runs only 6 minutes before just kind of stopping without an ending.
Footage from the NYC premiere (10 minutes) features members of the cast and crew reflecting on Troma.
The special features are rounded out with music videos, trailers, several Easter eggs and assorted Troma nonsense that is always welcome.
Stephen King reviewed the movie and said, "Poultrygeist is the movie Fast Food Nation could have been if it hadn't sucked....” The man knows funny.
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