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Poultry in Motion: Truth Is Stranger Than Chicken (2008)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Comedy | Video 28 October 2008
A journey into the world of fiercely independent guerrilla film making with this hilarious and shocking documentary feature. "Poultry in Motion" follows cult director Lloyd (THE TOXIC ... See full summary »
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A journey into the world of fiercely independent guerrilla film making with this hilarious and shocking documentary feature. "Poultry in Motion" follows cult director Lloyd (THE TOXIC AVENGER) Kaufman as he tries to hatch his newest cinematic explosion: POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD. With no investors and no money, he staffs the film with a crew of 75 inexperienced teenagers, hires the cheapest DP he can find, and houses them all in an abandoned church in Buffalo's ghetto. Written by Andy Deemer

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28 October 2008 (USA)  »

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Just remember the three rules and things will be fine... whether they're followed is something else
12 October 2015 | by See all my reviews

The production of Poultrygeist was no easy affair, not by a long-shot. I have to wonder if people in the cast and crew though it would be, or if not easy then at least competently managed. It's a wonder the film got finished by the look of some of the mishaps that happened during what's shown in this behind-the-scenes doc that is feature-length at 80 minutes. Things like, say, the FX department not testing things correctly all the time (i.e. the body that is supposed to deflate), or the extras who were made to wait around while an argument would flare up over why a character on a john during an un-dead chicken outbreak is masturbating to a nudie mag, or what happens when you spill lots of fluid from a frier, or the chance comes that the electricity will all go out on the production due to rain dripping in from the roof of the run-down/abandoned McDonalds. Lots of things.

At one point director Lloyd Kaufman remarks in kind of a huff that the movie is "nothing but young people and special effects." He's probably right on that score, or at least on what the appeal of the movie is. And this comes at a moment when he's frustrated over an effect not working, and these young people - of course, everyone is pretty much 30 years younger than him with the exception of a few of the bit-player actors - but should he have expected this to happen? His Troma productions are always things that are (and were) low-budget schlock-fests, and so low budget that actors end up walking off the set for not being paid (or, one of them does, and is brought back by a few hundred dollars finally coming his way). Should be pay them more? Would they work harder for a little more money? Would it ease the frustrations of the 18-hour-7day-a-week work weeks?

Questions like this come up, but the exciting thing about Poultry in Motion is that we get to see how much fun these people really DO have in making the movie - at least in spurts. There are more frustrating days than good ones, and certain instances (more than a few really) where 'Uncle Lloyd' creates his own problems. Why improvise an un-dead-chicken dance number when already behind on schedule? Hey, why not, it's the Troma way! Or why not just rip pages out of the script and cut fights? This movie shows low-budget filmmaking in such a way that it may give one caution and remind one what to do if they're a filmmaker, and to the uninitiated - just interested to see how a Troma set works and what this movie was like - it shows just how absolutely nuts things at time could get.

I liked that the camera people getting this footage didn't shy away from that, though one small thing I wondered is if, just once or twice, Kaufman played this up as he knew a camera was in the room with him. Then again... no, I have to believe this is what a Kaufman set is like, and that the crew, usually professional, can sometimes snap (like the sweet Asian guy who just gets violent at one point) or cry from the pressure (one of the actresses can't seem to take that rubber chicken dick that may or may not cum in her face, and for good reason). These appear to be rather insane places to work, and yet I wonder if the results on screen would've come out the same if everything was calm and smooth and peaceful and everyone did everything Kaufman asked. I think from seeing this he'd still find something to snap about.

Again, this isn't to the detriment of the documentary. Over the course of how many days this movie took (it seems like it took months), so much warped energy and crazy drive went into a movie that had limited resources (one bathroom at the church the whole cast/crew stayed at, and craft services was, uh, you can get pizza or a burger and fries at the nearby diner). This is revealing the madness of a film set, but also the joy and the wonder of creation - especially when that creation involves shoving a large object up a dummys butt so that the other side comes out of the actor's mouth. It shows some of the good, a lot of the ugly, and its nothing if not unflinchingly honest.


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