06 November 2008

At the movies: Poultrygeist.

When it says Troma, you know what you’re getting: gore, breasts, monsters, mutants, a representation of national diversity that makes Hollywood product look insular and unadventurous, and at least one (but often more) moment where the only response you can have is to say “well, I’ve never seen that before.” The typical Troma film, if you can even define such a thing, is like a madcap collusion between Frank Tashlin and the Marquis de Sade that works on whichever level you want it to. No setpiece too gross, not pun too outrageous, and no patience for subtlety; but still the Troma brand remains absolutely true to itself, and its take-no-prisoners style of social splat-ire doubtless will offend a significant portion of the population.

What else could we expect from a film positively enraged by the course of human life at this point in the aughts, explicitly attacking the legacy of Native American disenfranchisement, the way that food has become a corporatized industry, the Abu Gharaib photographs, and the way that entropy brings down countless social movements from the inside. Which is a remarkable agenda for a film about chicken monsters and dismemberment. There is no bodily mutilation, desecration, or violation that one could conceive of that remains unexplored during the course of Poultrygeist, and its gleeful willingness to gore up the place a little bit is a welcome breath of fresh air when you look at the disturbing ideologies splatter fans are made to implicitly support, through efforts like the Saw series or something like Quarantine, just to get a little grue.

The former frustrates because of its cruel and faux-moralistic undertones (perfectly served up for the Dr. Phil/Sarah Palin side of America), the later disgusts because of its dumbing-down and eviscerating of a quality foreign film/classic that didn’t need to be remade in the first place. And that’s where most modern horror is stuck. So even if Poultrygeist’s tone never strays far from slapstick farce rather than exploring more serious responses to horror, it still slings righteous social anger like the finest of documentary offerings and splatters the walls in ways that make this year’s Inside and Mother of Tears look restrained and dainty. Director/cowriter Lloyd Kaufman once again manages to find the gorgeous within the gruesome, and there’s no other splatter musical willing to talk about issues and sever limbs with such wit. ***

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