Poultrygeist (blu-ray review)

   Troma has been around for more than thirty-five years and they are one of the only studios (yes, I consider them a studio) that hasn't changed what they are about. Sure, they have changed with the times, if they hadn't then they would have gone under a long time ago. But they are the only studio that actually listens to their fans. This is what makes them successful. So it comes with great joy that I can tell that, with Poultrygeist, Troma is sticking to what they do best: entertain and offend.

The story of Poultrygeist is very simple. A fast food restaurant has built their building on an ancient Tromahawk burial ground. Even though they are told this they do not care because it's all about making the money. This, of course, is a bad mistake as the people who are eating the food are being turned into chicken zombies. Yes, I said chicken zombies. Anyway, it is up to our hero, Arby, to save the day.

That is the plot in a nutshell. Of course, there is a lot more going on, but Troma tries to keep their plots simple. No one is going to argue that, but what Troma is good at is giving us honest satire masked by the plot of a horror movie. The biggest target, in this and many other Troma movies, is big corporations. Troma has a big problem with corporations taking everything from us and turning us into drones and this movie is not exception.

While taking on big corporations, Poultrygeist also has the aim set at racism, stereotyping, terrorism enviormentalists, and of course, greed. Troma has always been about the little guy and they go to great lengths to appease to the people who have been screwed by the system. I love Troma satire even though it isn't very subtle.

You can also tell that a lot of hard work and passion went into this project. In the early to mid-90's Troma had hit a creative wall. Their output wasn't very good, but here and in Citizen Toxie you can see that they have gotten past that wall and are back on track.

Poultrygeist also features some of Troma's best production values. The restaurant always feels like a real restaurant- they shot the movie in a closed down McDonald's- so they get some real bang for their buck. Also Poultrygeist doesn't have a micro budget feel to it. Some of their older movies had a guerrilla feel to them, but here the movie looks and feels like a Hollywood movie. That's not a slight against Troma, but goes to show how much they have grown.

This is also the first time that Troma has done a musical. (Cannibal! doesn't count as they didn't make that movie, they were just the distributors) The songs are pretty catchy and song with enthusiasm, but they don't really add anything to the movie. You can take them out and still have a great movie, but they are welcome and keep the spirit of Troma alive.

As always, Troma movies are gory and Poultrygeist doesn't disappoint. The make-up for the chicken zombies is very well done and some of the other effects are pretty effective. Resident tromite Joe Fleishaker probably gets the worst death in the movie. I would describe it to you, but you have to see it for yourself.

In the end, Poultrygeist is a great Troma movie. I would go so far as to say that this is their best movie since the original Toxic Avenger. Poultrygeist is filled with everything a Troma fan could want and a little more.

The Blu-ray: Poultrygeist comes to us in a standard blu-ray case with very attractive artwork. There is no insert, but there artwork on the inside of the case.

The Picture ***
Preserving the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1, this is a pretty nice 1080p transfer overall. Comparing it to the dvd, this appears to be the same transfer. This is good and bad news. The good is the black levels are deep and the transfer has a film quality to, no DNR applied. The bad is that there are a few instances where there are blemishes on the print. They go by pretty fast and are hardly noticeable. Having seen the movie in theaters, I can say that this transfer is very close to what I saw in the theater and I am very impressed with this transfer.

The Sound ***
Troma has given us the same 2.0 mono sound that was found on the DVD. It's kinds of weird though, as I found this soundtrack clearer and more distinct then it's DVD counterpart. Still it would have been nice to have a 5.1 mix, but give Troma time and they will deliver.

The Goodies ****
Troma has always been good at giving fans the best when it comes to special features and the Poultrygeist blu-ray doesn't disappoint. They even throw in some blu-ray exclusives to sweeten the pot. All of the special features- except for the introduction are presented in standard definition.

Introduction by Lloyd Kaufman (blu-ray exclusive) 5min This is the first thing plays before the movie (obviously) but this is a new introduction to the film. Lloyd, in his own funny way, explains the difference between blu-ray (or in Tromaville, brown-ray) and dvd. This is a very funny introduction and should be viewed at least once.

Audio Commentary #1- This commentary track features Lloyd Kaufman and writer Gabe Friedman. This commentary is more technical than the other commentary, but the two seem to be having fun talking about the movie and it's rocky road to release.

Audio Commentary #2 (blu-ray exclusive)
This commentary features stars Jason Yachanin and Kate Graham and is a pretty good track. The actors were recorded separately and sometimes their info overlaps, but it is a pretty good track so this is something that can be overlooked. Yachanin dominates the track.

Poultry in Motion 82 min
This is a fly on the wall documentary that has become a staple on Troma dvds. We see everything about the production and the doc doesn't hold back in showing how Lloyd directs. This is a fascinating documentary.

Chewing the Fat With Joe Fleishaker blu-ray exclusive) 3 min 
Shot during the shooting of the introduction to the blu-ray, this little interview shows just how fat and immobile Fleishaker has become over the years. This is actually the saddest thing on the disc.

Poultrygeist NYC Premiere 10 min 
This featurette was shot at the New York premiere of Poultrygeist. We get the cast and crew's reaction to the movie that they bled for.

Designing the Monsters 8 min 
This featurette shows the monster designers not really showing how they designed the monsters, but having trouble getting the muscle suit out of the mold.

Recording the Songs 6 min 
The title says it all. It shows the cast recording the songs that are sang in the movie. More musicals need to have a special feature like this as it shows how much hard work actually goes into making these songs work.

Filming the Meat Grinder 4 min
This is just an alternate take of what is shown in the documentary.

Rooftop Reshoot 6 min 
This featurette focuses on a reshoot that Lloyd did so that he could have Debbie Rochon in the movie. It is incredible to see how they shot this one shot then to see how it is flawlessly integrated into the movie.

Joe Fleishaker Gets a Head Mold 9 min
The title of this featurette is pretty self-explainatory, but we learn how a head mold is made. Very informative.

Chicken Ass 5 min 
This is a short film about a disease known as, you guessed it, chicken ass. The short is one note and not very good.

Cellu-Lloyd Closet- This is a section with a series of featurettes.

-Make Your Own Damn Omelette 2 min This is a commercial for the Make Your Own Damn Movie box set.
-Blow Me...Away: Shooting the ACB Explosion Sequence 14m
Here we are given a look at how Troma made the restaurant blow up at the end of the movie, without really blowing it up.
-Make Your Own Damn Sound Design 23m
Troma has always been known for the aggressive soundtracks. They use a lot of ADR to create new jokes and atmosphere. Here we are given a look at how much work goes into creating their soundtracks
Deleted Scenes: Here we find four deleted scenes. 8 min

-Ron Jeremy's Alternate "Happy Ending"
-Charlotte Kaufman's Death Scene
-Time Bomb!
-The Humus S-U-I-C-I-D-E song

Theatrical Trailer

Lovely Scenes from Bergman's The Virgin Spring
This is the promo reel shown to exhibitors to spread awareness for the movie.

2 Music Videos, and trailers for The Hanging Woman, Toxic Avenger, and Combat Shock round out the special features.

Overall: Troma has entered the high-def game with a very impressive debut. The picture and sound are both top notch and the bonus features are outstanding (they even threw in some blu-ray exclusive special features). If Troma keeps this up (and I know they will) then they will be one of the leading independent companies releasing movies on blu-ray.

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