I was born and raised just outside of Buffalo, New York. It took me 19 years before I managed to escape this rotting hellhole. Even then I have to go back every so often. Living in this area is nothing short of miserable, and it seems the film world knows it. Sure, there have been movies set or filmed in the Buffalo area here and there, but (aside from Bruce Almighty), none of them have been enormous blockbusters. They aren’t particularly memorable either.
But…there is another. Enter Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead; a horror/comedy/musical gorefest from the seemingly indestructable shlock factory Troma Entertainment.
For the uninitiated, Poultrygeist is a waking nightmare of gross-out gags and offensive madness that even Seth McFarlane would leave on the cutting room floor. I mean, there’s a scene where a Muslim woman (named ‘hummus’) says “I feel so angry, I could just explode!” This outburst causes everyone in the room to rush for cover. Hummus explains that she was speaking in metaphor before finding a prayer mat and facing Mecca.
The opening sex scene includes a zombie finger used as a buttplug. There’s an extended gag with a fat man named Jared, in a reference to Jared from Subway, followed by an extensive gag where aforementioned portly gentleman has a bad case of explosive diarrhea. Just about every character is sprayed with every possible kind of bodily fluid. There’s nudity, copious buttcracks, the spirit of a gay Hispanic man (named Paco Bell) trapped in a sandwich, and diaper fetishes.
The plot revolves around a youth named Arbie who lost his virginity on an ancient Native American burial ground. Three months after his first sexual encounter, he returns to said graveyard to reminisce, only to find a fast food restaurant being protested by a group of hippies led by his ex-girlfriend’s current girlfriend. How awkward! The movie spends a preposterous amount of time attempting to offend every group under the sun with an almost disturbing level of glee. It’s gross, it lacks any real shock value, and there are one or two things about it that don’t totally suck.
So in that way, it’s a perfect metaphor for the town in which it was shot. Like I said earlier, Buffalo is a miserable pile of shit. It’s too cold, the best food you can get here lacks any nutritional value, and the people are terrible. You don’t particularly enjoy yourself while you’re in the midst of the experience, but it’s fun to jaw about the hardship with others who have suffered. What makes Buffalo and Poultrygeist such an excellent match is the mindset they both share.
Poultrygeist is a movie that is fine with using the word ‘feminazi’ directly after pointing to a lesbian’s armpit hair. But it also spends most of its running time with Big Business tied to a bullseye at the other end of the metaphorical shooting range. The fast food restaurant–a KFC expy–is run by a highly unethical businessman who enjoys being spanked like a child during sex. This man is clearly the film’s villain, even when the demonic chicken zombies show up for a gobble.
It’s a fairly common mistake to assume that making fun of every group under the sun is acceptable, but I hear this misconception the most when I’m trapped in my unfortunate birthplace. I’ve lost count of how many “I hate everyone equally!” bumper stickers I’ve seen whilst driving to the Target in the hopes of scoring some Transformers. People in Buffalo want to have their slurs and not feel like a piece of trash. It’s the same story with Poultrygeist.
We do not live on a planet where all things are equal. You cannot hate everyone equally, because your hate does not contribute negatively in the case of the privileged. A line about “the white man always leaving the black man to clean up the mess” is funny because it punches up. I don’t think going after lesbians or Muslim people is going to win you any fans worth having. Do marginalized people really need to be taken down another peg?
Look, there are some things about Buffalo and Poultrygeist that I like. Buffalo has some incredible junk food and Poultrygeist has some inoffensive gags that are essentially intellectual junk food. But they are both tremendously flawed, with a dangerous undercurrent of problematic humor disguised as equality. Both Troma and the average Buffalonian claim to paint with an even brush, but Western society objectively does not.
Also, I’ve seen a lot of poop in both Poultrygeist and Buffalo. That’s just not a coincidence.