Maybe other screenings were better attended, but I doubt it. On the last night of Moscow's two-week run of Lloyd Kaufman's latest diarrhea-splattered Troma production, the 35MM theater was nearly empty. This means it was also happily free of people -- let's call them "squirmers" -- who don't know what they're in for when they buy a one-way ticket to Tromaville. There were maybe ten of us sprinkled around the art house, all obvious Troma fans, all howling and squealing under the zombie musical's assault of exploding bowels and flesh-eating fowl. It was the best time I've had at the movies since I saw the opening of Snakes On a Plane at an all-black theater in Montgomery, Alabama.
Topping the night like a brown cherry was the fact that the screening fell on July 4, the day us yanks told the Brits to go take a sail. Is there a better way to spend Independence Day than a midnight show with America's best independent filmmaker, the godfather of the gross-out, Heineken in hand? The answer is more emphatic when the film in question is Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, a sex-, scat- and song-filled satire of fast food (replete with Ron Jeremy cameo) that is Kaufman's best film in years, maybe decades, up there with the original Toxic Avenger.
Kaufman long ago crowned himself the master of fast food joint and broom closet gore -- the deep fryer, the greasy grill, and the mop handle are all iconic Troma tropes. Poultrygeist is the double apotheosis of the fry-vat fuckery and minimum-wage wank genres. All of the action takes place in and around the American Chicken Burger restaurant, built on the ancient burial ground of the Tromahawk Indians. Together with a parking lot protest organized by college liberals, drunk Injuns, militant lesbians, and wheelchair-bound retards -- the spoof of protest chants is hysterical -- American Chicken Burger on its opening day is plagued by the revenge of angry Indian spirits teaming up with horny flesh-eating zombie chickens. When the protesters outside are convinced by the diaper fetishist Colonel Sanders-type owner to taste the possessed chicken, they also turn into chicken zombies, thus trapping the film's heroes (including a devout Muslim female short-order cook named Hummous) inside the restaurant! The result is a fuming 64-piece box of Chicken McNasties served with a large outhouse bucket of Kaufman's special sauce of Concentration Camp that's part Russ Meyer, part Al Goldstein, part Dario Argento, yet with that distinctive Troma aroma. No other filmmaker can make you gag and laugh so many times, often at the same time, in 90 minutes. Or who can keep the smile on your lips as a man's face is placed in a deli meat slicer and counted out to a quarter pound. (Yeah, that's in the movie.)
If you missed the 35MM screenings of Poutrygeist, troma.com says the next nearest showing is the Grossman film and wine festival in Ljutomer, Slovenia, in the second week in August. If on the off chance you weren't planning on attending the Grossman festival this year, check out selected scenes at the film's myspace page. The next Troma production, Pot Zombies, is scheduled for release later this year. Kaufman did not direct.
Directed by Adam shankman
John Waters looking hungry for tossed salad
Speaking of indie film legends, the sad and inevitable post-Broadway run remake of John Waters' Hairspray comes out later this month. In place of the original cast of Debby Harry, Divine, Ricki Lake, Jerry Stiller, and Ric Ocasek, the new version will feature John Travolta, Queen Latifa, Michelle Pfieffer and the like. In Waters' old directing chair: Adam Shankman, the auteur who brought you The Wedding Planner. I couldn't bring myself to watch the trailer. Do not see this film. Deface its posters. Key Adam Shankman's Porsche.