Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Cheerbleeders" review

Cheerbleeders (2008)

Director: Peter Podgursky
Writer: Peter Podgursky

Chelsey Dailey... Kacee
Wyatt Fenner... Devon
K.C. Gleason... Cheerbleeder
Jennifer Hodel... Wendy
Mike Horton... Randy (as Mike Horton II)
Jake House... Andy
Jaclyn Lyons... Christie
Emily Pennington... Cheerbleeder
Peter Podgursky... Announcer
Monique Soltani... Herself
Laurel Vail... Penny

I was sent this DVD. The director wanted me to check out his USC thesis film. Being the responsible adult I am, I felt compelled to take an interest into what our young people are up to. Specifically, what are they teaching USC students about film these days? "Cheerbleeders" may have the answer.

I've never reviewed a short before, ("Cheerbleeders" runs about eleven minutes long), so I'm not entirely sure how to go about this. I know that people reading this are not going to be able to rent this film so my usual routine of giving a score on the movie is not going to count for much. But that never stopped me before so here goes.

The least popular girl in school brings an ancient urn to show and tell. The urn holds black sludge which can turn anyone who gets smothered with it into an immensely attractive person. Her geeky friend gets covered in the magic slime and goes mad with power as the cheerleaders throw themselves at him. This all leads to a blood orgy in which the cheerleaders tear apart the hated football team. Heads fly and blood gushes as the cheerbleeders run wild.
I found "Cheerbleeders" to be a pleasant way to spend 11 minutes. The friends I saw this with didn't quite feel the same as me. Since "Cheerbleeders" was obviously made to be a calling card for the director, (it has his phone number and email on the disk), I had to ask them what they thought of his future in the film business. There were the usual derogatory remarks such as, "No chance." and "It was like a Buffy episode without the good parts." and "It's amazing how those locations looks in no way like the USC campus." They were a tad negative on the young director's future.

But I think that's slightly unfair. As a horror fan, I can assure you that I've seen hundred times worse than this. What's interesting here is why you would make your thesis film a cheesy B-movie. There's one thing I know for sure. You don't have to go to college to make B-movies. "Cheerbleeders" shows its love for B-movie insanity and Sam Raimi in almost every scene. "Evil Dead" has probably inspired more horror fans to go to film school than any other horror film out there. But there was no Bruce Campbell in this one to take it over the top.

Overall, "Cheerbleeders" is a perfectly acceptable eleven minute flick. What do I see in the future for this USC grad? My only advice is this: Don't try to be another Sam Raimi, John Carpenter, Wes Craven or George Romero. We already have one of each and we don't need another. Oh, and be sure to have at least one scene of topless women kissing each other in your next movie. Guaranteed boffo box office. Well, maybe not but at least I'll like it.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 cheerbleedersGo Trojans, go.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

"Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead" review

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)

Director: Lloyd Kaufman
Writers: Daniel Bova Gabriel Friedman

Jason Yachanin ... Arbie
Kate Graham ... Wendy
Allyson Sereboff ... Micki
Robin Watkins ... General Lee Roy
Joshua Olatunde ... Denny
Caleb Emerson ... Carl Jr.
Rose Ghavami ... Humus / ACB Dancer
Khalid Rivera ... Paco Bell
Joe Fleishaker ... Jared (as Mega Herz)
Lloyd Kaufman ... Mature Arbie
Ron Jeremy ... Crazy Ron

Zombies are attacking and they're hungry. This time it's not brains they seek. It's chicken. Lots of fast food chicken. Arbie is pining for his recently turned lesbian ex-girlfriend Wendy. (Arbie? Wendy? Get it? Oh man, those Troma jokers slay me). Arbie decides to take a job at the newly opened chicken restaurant to impress his beloved. Little does he realize that the chicken shack was built over a graveyard. This leads to various foul and nauseating scenes as our intrepid hero must deal with all kinds of bodily fluids, (blood spray, piles of puke, excrement splatter), as the zombies will have their revenge on the mindless consumers of fast food.

"Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead" is easily the best zombies attacking after eating contaminated fast food movie that I've ever seen. It also holds the even rarer distinction of being one of the best Troma movies I've seen. Of course I can't really say that I've seen many Troma flicks as I wouldn't consider myself a fan of Tromaville. I never got into the Troma brand of juvenile gross-out humor. This all goes back to the time when I drove to a college campus to see "Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D." and was ready to charge the projector booth so I could burn the film. After that soul scarring experience, I decided to let Troma go on without me.

But there was something about chicken zombies that told me that "Poultrygeist" might be worth checking out. Once the zombie infection spreads to the customers, the movie kicks into blood and guts overdrive as bodies are ripped and shredded with gleeful abandon. There are also plenty of make out scenes with Wendy and her new girlfriend as Kaufman seems to have a fascination with watching pretty girls kiss each other. I can't blame him for that.
Although I can blame him for his insistence on having disgusting scenes of bodily malfunctions. There's a horrid scene where an obscenely fat man runs into the bathroom so we can hear, (and eventually see), him take a massive chicken dump. This was something I never needed to see but the Troma people just can't seem to control their instinct to be distasteful. I also wasn't aware that there was going to be singing and dancing numbers spontaneously breaking out. But after my initial shock subsided, I started to get into watching Kaufman sing and dance his way into our hearts.
But what is the deeper meaning of this disgusting movie? What words of gory wisdom is it trying to impart to the unwashed masses? Is it suggesting that fast food is an evil enterprise and that by supporting it we are creating an army of zombies? This anti business tirade is interesting coming from a man who spent the first ten minutes of the movie complaining about Chinese pirates eating into his company profits. Would the Troma people be happy if we forsake fast food for fruits and vegetables? What diet do the folks in Tromaville stick to so that they have enough energy to make these nasty flicks? These and other questions bounced through my head as I watched the chicken zombies run wild.

One last thought, after the movie was over I drove out and had some fast food chicken. Take that "Poultrygeist"! I'll never give up delicious Chipoltle no matter how many zombies attack me! Although I'm not sure if Chipoltle counts as fast food but it is really good food. And fast.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 blood soaked chicken lovers