Wednesday, March 21, 2012


  Remember the steak ghost in Poltergeist, the skyscraper-sized killer Stay Puft Marshmellow Man from Ghostbusters, or the shrimp cocktail from hell in Beetlejuice?  How about killer culinary cult classics like Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes or The Stuff?   If the answer is no, fear not dear reader, there is always time to catch up on your fearsome food flicks. Upon writing this review, The KVLT racked it's collective unconscious for scenes or entire movies about killer food, and realized that homicidal edibles have been a staple of the horror film for quite some time, but none have stretched the boundaries of extreme tongue-in-cheek tastelessness insofar as Lloyd Kaufman's Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead. 

  American Chicken Bunker, a fast food fried chicken franchise is about to open a new store in Tromaville.  Hordes of angry protesters gather to picket the restaurant's ribbon cutting ceremony.  Caught somewhere between American Chicken Bunker's conquest for power and local entry level employment and the collective organizers rallying outside, are two former lovers, Arby and Wendy.  Arby, is just a young man trying to make a meager living in the world working in the private sector, more specifically, at American Chicken Bunker, as well as regain the adoring affection his ex girlfriend Wendy, who is one of the protesters deadset on running American Chicken Bunker out of Tromaville.  Unbeknownst to either side, American Chicken Bunker's new location was built atop a sacred Native American burial ground and all the recent commotion has stirred their long dormant spirits.  Before you can say, "Kentucky Fried Carnage," American Chicken's Bunkers entire line of deep fried food stuffs become inhabited by the angry spirits, turning anyone who eats it into mutant chicken zombies who want human flesh added to the menu.  Oh and did The KVLT mention that it's a musical?

As the saying goes, "a zombie chicken in the hand is worth a few hundred in the cursed fast food eatery."

  In the tradition of Troma's long standing career of irreverent and over the top cinematic antics Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead goes a few steps further than it's predecessors in providing a marathon of sick shock gags, the usual potty humor, nods of political satire, interlaced with intentionally crude yet catchy musical numbers.  Troma Films, a bastion of bad taste independent cinema for almost 40 years now, stills seems to garner a very polarized reaction when mentioned amongst film geeks.  People seem to love or revile Troma.  This could be partly due to the fact that Troma, not only makes genre-defying movies for punks, geeks, and other weirdo stereotypes, but is also a huge distributor of low budget indie films. The list of financially acquired Troma Films by far outnumbers the in-house Troma productions and in most cases lack the unabashed low budget quality, and unflappable drive that a true Troma production possesses.  Therefore, cult film aficionados assume that all Troma Pictures releases are Z-grade schlock of their own design, which is not the case.  The list of Troma's flagship features is a rather short list when you consider how long the comapany has been spitting in the eye of in the mainstream film industry.  Poultrygeist, like The Toxic Avenger films, The Class Of Nuke'Em High Trilogy, Sgt. Kabukiman, and Terror Firmer is a legitimate Tromatic effort made with the same fast-paced, unbridled insanity that made the aforementioned Troma titles cult classics.  To further illustrate Lloyd Kaufman's love for his craft, there is a featurette at the beginning of the Poultrygeist dvd explaining how and why he spent much of his 41K to have it filmed in 35 millimeter instead of on digital.  A bold move in a time when digital is the industry standard and the cost of film, film printing, not to mention editing has skyrocketed due to the shift in the technology and the demands of the modern film market.

Troma visionary, Lloyd Kaufman, demonstrating that when it comes to independent filmmaking, sometimes it's really hard to save face. 

  Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead is everything you've ever come to love about Troma, but for the new ADHD prescription drug addled, 24 hour media and internet obsessed, fast food addicted, secretly nihilistic culture that we live in today.  With it's mile-a-second pacing, wall to wall spraying of blood, gore, fecal matter, seminal fluids, fast food stuffs, it's sharp eye for political absurdities, and catchy yet dirty take on showtunes, Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead is a peerless original, well maybe except for the Troma-funded Trey Parker and Matt Stone first effort Cannibal: The Musical.  Although, Cannibal: The Muscial does come with The KVLT's seal of approval, So if that old yellow Troma logo has let you down before, or you are still on the fence about Troma Films, rest assured, Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead is the Troma film to end all Troma films.  Seriously, if Poultrygeist isn't your cup of cinematic tea beer, then you're probably reading the wrong blog. 

Fun Facts About Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead:

One of the original titles for Poultrygeist was, "Good Night and Good Cluck."

A scene that ended up on the cutting room floor reveals Trey Parker and Matt Stone as Arby's parents.  

Poultrygeist's lead characters were named after popular Fast Food Restaurants Arbie (Arby's), Wendy (Wendy's), Micki (McDonalds), Denny (Denny's), Carl Jr. (Carl Jr.) and Paco Bell (Taco Bell)

When watching Poultrygeist, patient and observant Tromaphiles may spot the infamous penis monster prop from Tromeo and Juliet, and the obligatory car flip and explosion scene recycled once again.

Friday, March 16, 2012


  What's pink and purple, Lovecraftian, covered in gore and slime, and still sexy?  Give up?  It's Stuart Gordon's science fiction/horror extravaganza, From Beyond. 

  Based on the titular H.P. Lovecraft story, a gateway between another world and the human mind has just been opened by two fringe scientists with a device of their own mad creation called the sonic resonator.  This new dimension of consciousness grants passage to ghoulishly amorphous creatures who want to rend human flesh and minds, by inhibiting the pineal gland.  Once they've tapped into the pineal glands, these beings from beyond gain total control over their human host bodies, sending them on a rampage of sex and violence crazed euphoria.  It becomes a race against time to close the portal between the two worlds and to put and end to the scientists newly acquired addiction to carnal savagery.  Which belies the real question, do they really want it to stop? 

By this creatures trendy yet peaceful hand gesture, The KVLT has to assume that there must be a hip hop scene in the dimension from whence it came.. 

  From Beyond is another jewel in the cult movie crown of Stuart Gordon who was hot on the heels of success from his 1985 zombie opus Re-Animator made for the soon-to-be infamous Empire Pictures.  With a small cast of only four main characters, consisting primarily of staunch horror icons like Jeffrey Combs, Ken Foree, and Barbara Crampton, From Beyond isn't a body count bloodbath like most of the popular slasher flicks of the 80's.  However, it is a monster movie driven by Lovecraftian proportions, the excesses of the 80's, as well as the needs of aging monster kids who sole purpose in life is to see mass quantities of blood, boobs, and beasts.  In fact, their are technically more creatures, transmutations, and inter-dimensional creatures than there are actual cast members in From Beyond's brisk 86 minute runtime.  That is not to say that due to the small cast that the carnage and bodily harm within is restrained on any level.  Instead of pandering to teen audiences by showing how fast they can dispatch of a co-ed or jock stereotype, Stuart Gordon and writer Bryan Yuzna opt for extensive shots of extreme slime covered alien forms devouring, and melding with their human prey in surreal transfigurations of twisted flesh.  Think Rob Botin's creature effects in The Thing, but on a B-horror budget and you've got a pretty good idea of what's to come.  Also, as mentioned in the opening riddle, the lighting choices in From Beyond are unlike anything The KVLT has ever witnessed in a horror film before or since.  Lurid pinks and electric purples wash over visceral scenes of the sonic resonator's corrupted and reconstituted abominations wreaking havoc upon naked human flesh seem as if they were illuminated by Prince's stage lighting crew, yet somehow strangely, it works.  Then Richard Band, brother of infamous producer Charles Band, composes a score that expertly delivers orchestrated wave after wave of dissonant strings and thundering timpani rolls that roll, reel, and wrench the tension.

Easy there Freud, The KVLT doesn't see the phallic symbolism.  Not every horror movie is a metaphor for male sexual frustration and/or symbolic phallic penetration...  Okay, okay, maybe this one is. 

  When it's all said and done, almost 30 years later, From Beyond still delivers.  Whether you are curious to behold Lovecraft's creations come to life, scream queen Barbara Crampton violated by otherworldy creatures, or you just love a good, effects heavy monster movie, From Beyond does not disappoint. The only drawback The KVLT could see, is that it isn't the most faithful film adaption of H.P. Lovecraft's work.  But then again, making a movie about the dark, vague, and creeping things that Lovecraft himself, in an act of artistic license, chose to not clearly define, seems to lie in the double edged sword realm of filmmaking.  As far as The KVLT is concerned, the more Lovecraft in the world, in any form of media is a good thing.  So do what you must to find, stream, conjure, or sonically resonate a copy of From Beyond and let those pink and purple inter-dimensional abominations of contorted slime covered flesh into your heart and hopefully into your pineal gland. 

Scream queen Barbara Crampton pledging her devotion to heavy metal gods Judas Priest in a scene that should have been called, "Hell-bent For Leather."

Fun Facts About From Beyond:

Aside from their horror and cult film catalogs, Stuart Gordon and Bryan Yuzna also wrote the big budget Disney film Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.

The address to the house where the scientists, the sonic resonator, and it's nightmarish creatures reside is visible in one scene as 666. 

Actor Ken Foree references his character from George A. Romero's zombie classic Dawn Of The Dead by repeating the line "I used to play pro football." 

From Beyond can be classified a "body horror" film like David Cronenberg's Videodrome, The Fly, Shivers, and Rabid, as well as Shinya Tskukamoto's Tetsuo films. 

When Stuart Gordon submitted his film to the MPAA they responded by saying that it wouldn't even get a hard R rating because it had, "ten times too much of everything."