Starring: Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham, Allyson Sereboff, Robin Watkins, Joshua Olatunde. Rated R.
It’s been 22 years since Troma
Entertainment last made a big-screen splash with Class of Nuke ’Em High, a typically
stomach-turning satire about small-town teens
growing up, but not old, in the shadow of a nuclear power plant. Since then,
infamous auteur Lloyd Kaufman’s fiercely independent studio has floundered with
a series of mostly straight-to-DVD releases, including seminal titles like Maniac
Nurses Find Ecstasy and Killer Condom.
Poultrygeist, Kaufman’s latest
theatrical venture and first solo directorial
effort since 2000’s Toxic Avenger IV,
makes one thing clear: the 62-year-old New York native has lost none of his
appreciation for reanimated corpses, explosive diarrhea and thinly veiled
political barbs that skewer the left and the right with equal delight.
Whether you can appreciate
Kaufman’s equal-opportunity bashing – here, his favorite targets include
liberal, protest-minded lesbians and the fast-food moguls responsible for the
super-sizing of America – depends largely on your tolerance for his low-budget
gross-out gags, which remain as defiantly unsophisticated today as they were in
1974, when he co-founded Troma with fellow Yalie Michael Herz. For the
uninitiated, that means plenty of decapitations, scatological splatter and
projectile vomit, though one would be remiss not to mention the film’s most
notable offering, Paco Bell, a flamboyant minimum-wager ground to pieces and
reincarnated as a talking chicken sandwich.
The action begins at the brand-new
American Chicken Bunker, a KFC-style monstrosity owned by the General (Robin
Watkins) and operated by characters with names like Wendy, Arbie and Carl Jr.
The long-suffering citizens of Tromaville line up for the grand opening, some
to protest, others simply to writhe and squeal like pigs under the hot New
Jersey sun. Chaos ensues when the lunch crowd begins to chow down on the
General’s chicken, only to undergo a messy metamorphosis into an army of zombie
chickens hungry for human flesh.
What else would you expect when
you build a rancid chicken shack on a Native American burial ground? Kaufman’s
latest, which incorporates crass musical numbers into its heady mix, is
unapologetically tasteless and raunchy to the extreme; it wouldn’t live up (or
is that down?) to the Troma standard otherwise. But it’s not without a
legitimate axe to grind.
the kind of
satire that takes a sledgehammer to its targets, and Kaufman is only too happy
to smash the fast-food industry to a fetid pulp. It’s not pretty, and the humor
is sometimes embarrassingly puerile. But for those with a passion for
subversive trash – you know who you are – Troma Entertainment is still serving
it in generous helpings on a bile-covered platter.