A co-worker showed me this preview for “Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead,” which features an orgy of violence perpetrated by the eponymous villains against the unwitting but presumably deserving employees of a Chicken Restaurant unhappily located on a desecrated Indian Burial Ground. To say that the trailer is steeped in blood, bile, excreta and vomit-among other unidentifiable fluids–would be understatement. I was appalled and disgusted and amused and entertained. This is gonzo trailermaking; this is Troma; this is horror for the initiated and eager; this is scatalogical!
First of all, the trailer is age gated and appropriately so. It is a gross out coming attraction that explains next to nothing about story or motivation, preferring instead to emphasize genre, provenance (Troma Studios) and grisly, liquid spectacle. In other words, you’ve gotta see it.
The music cue is provided by the band The Nihilists: a little speed punk ditty with the cunning lyric, “All I want to do is Kill, kill, kill,” repeated aggressively. Effectively, the lyrics work as copy to position the film within its genre and the marketplace.
The actual copy run of the trailer comes only at the opening and consists of white letters on a black card: “And now for some wholesome, family entertainment / And by family, we mean “Manson Family.” It’s ironic and referential, presuming on the audience’s familiarity with the brutal murder spree of the Charles Manson Family Cult. (But who isn’t?) After this introduction, we plunge right into the action, such as it is. Words cannot do justice, but suffice it to say that it is explicit, graphic, energetic and thoroughly suffused with abjection and violation.
There are a few dialogue driven moments worth mentioning: A female chicken dead marauder eats the facial skin of a victim, while earnestly remonstrating (rather hilariously) to whomever will listen, “I know it’s fattening, but I just love the skin.” At the end of the short, nasty and brutal parade of evisceration, sodomy, blunt force trauma and flesh-eating, a blood soaked figure in a caftan, stumbles into the frame, mumbling, provocatively, “the chickens have declared Jihad on us all.”
In the comments section, one intrepid viewer objected to the violence and degradation in the trailer, only to be shouted down by a community of horror fans who found the trailer comedic and not nearly as shocking as those for other Troma Films. Fan cultures policing their freedom to consume materials that aren’t to every taste have my sympathies, but I do think an opportunity was missed to engage in the social/cultural meaning and ramifications of such gratuitous violence, albeit cheaply produced and clearly “fake.” Likewise a consideration of its aesthetic and free speech bonafides, would have been, if not as entertaining as the trailer, perhaps more beneficial.
Finally, I must confess that I was unaware that fecal matter might figure so insistently and visibly in a non-pornographic trailer (in the strict sense.) We have crossed the muddy Rubicon my friends.
movietrailers101 by Fred Greene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.