Poultrygeist and Gutterballs

poultrygeist: night of the chicken dead
it is remarkable how little troma films have changed over the years. it would be almost impossible to place them in any kind of chronological order without the help of imdb. even the company graphic at the beginning of each one hasn’t changed with the years. there’s something charming about that timelessness of troma’s films, and poultrygeist is no exception. the major difference here is that it’s a musical, but everything else is as it’s always been. the same reliance on potty humor, extreme violence, nudity and tongue-in-cheek shock tactics are abundant. as always, the story plays out like a three stooges routine with copious amounts of blood, feces and breasts. i don’t know how they do it, but poultrygeist even has that same grungy film quality that one immediately associates with troma films. i imagine at this point they just shoot their films normally then run all the footage through some aftereffects plugin to give it that characteristic look that makes you feel like you need a shower. anyway, terror firmer was always my favorite of kaufman’s creations… until now. poultrygeist is by far the best troma film i’ve ever seen. sure, as in all troma films, much of the humor centers around hurling turds at the camera… but these are smart turds. mixed in with the 5th grade level bathroom humor is some biting satire on corporate america and relationships and, most notably, some damn catchy music. unlike the other recent horror musical, repo, this film actually features some songs with melodies and hooks, many of which you’ll find yourself humming days later. if you’re a fan of troma in the slightest, then definitely give poultrygeist a look.

gutterballs is another film from ryan “live feed” nicholson and, as hard as it is to believe, it’s even worse than live feed. this film is a tedious, mean-spirited endurance test of bad writing, acting and direction. however, in the interest of full disclosure, i must divulge that i’m predisposed to disliking nicholson’s films. one of my favorite podcasts (details here, including links to the relevant episodes). regardless of whether i liked live feed or not, i lost a lot of respect for nicholson due to his unprofessional reaction to criticism. (coincidentally, this was at roughly the same time notlp gave a similarly negative review to kevin kangas’ fear of clowns, which prompted kevin to also write them and tell them how much he enjoyed their review, which is an example of how to handle such things gracefully).

however, i honestly believe i would hate gutterballs regardless of who was responsible for its existence. this is a film that includes (at least what feels like) a 20 minute long rape scene, ending with the girl being violated by the larger end of a bowling pin. the scene is obviously meant to be shocking, but it’s horribly undercut by inappropriate vaginal shots during the rape and even before (the victim inexplicably wears no underwear early in the film, showing off her bits each times she leans over to bowl). these shots are meant to titillate, but fail on all levels and further, make the victim unsympathetic and irritating. not that that’s out of place here, as every character is annoying beyond belief and most do little more than scream shrilly and rattle off inane dialogue, most of which is comprised almost entirely of the word ‘fuck.’ gutterballs does feature some impressive special effects and copious amounts of gore, but overall the film feels like the feverish masturbatory fantasy of a mal-adjusted 12-year-old. when you read a description of the film’s plot, it may sound like something troma would create — a cartoony slasher with lots of violence, nudity and vulgar humor. however, if we were to transmogrify a troma film like poultrygeist into human form, it would be your buddy who occasionally drinks a little too much and makes off-color jokes, but is usually fun to have around and, gosh, when he tells that story about pooping his pants at the mall, you always cry with laughter. gutterballs, on the other hand, given human shape, would be your creepy uncle that you wish wouldn’t come to family reunions, likes to talk about his extensive porn collection and you’re afraid to leave alone with your sister. unless you happen to be a creepy uncle yourself, i’d recommend staying away from gutterballs.

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