Musicals That Don't Star Zac Efron



Who says musicals are for fey drama queens? Not this guy! There’s a current crop of horror fanatic who are at home mixing their love of Rodgers and Hammerstein with Romero and Carpenter. With this triple feature, we take a look at two new “horrmusicals” (I just invented that term—patent pending!) and one bizarre classic that has finally been released…so get those jazz hands ready! And a one, a two, a one two three go...


Starring Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham, Allyson Sereboff

Directed by Lloyd Kaufman

Troma Team Home Video

Finally! Sound the trumpets, alert the media, start loading the bags of ticker-tape: Troma has finally released its latest movie, and sweet seven herbs and spices, it is one of the best movies of the year. Yes, of the year, and I promise to back that up when it comes time for my year-end top ten, Mr. Ebert. Taking the true-to-form Troma tenants of bad taste, bad special effects and the always present smart, sly satire, POULTRYGEIST, subtitled “Night of the Chicken Dead”, is the ultimate culmination of the studio's thirty plus years of cinema independence, topping everything they've every done, pushing every envelope and show no signs of softening in their old age.

Here's a story that I am more than familiar with: after an awkward graveyard sex romp, nerdy Arby's girlfriend goes off to college, and, as with most girls with a major in gender studies and a half-a-bottle of Jagermeister, becomes a pseudo-lesbian in the process, and, even worse, a total meat-hating liberal. In retaliation, Arby takes a job at the American Chicken Bunker, a fried chicken joint that is not only the subject of daily protests from the typical ultra-left-wing wackos that typically work in community radio, but is also built on an ancient Tromahawk burial ground.

The constant slaughter of chickens angers the proud Tromahawk spirits, so they resurrect and possess the chickens, the customers and Ron Jeremy. They infect the eggs and turn the Bunker's customers into chicken-craving zombies. And it also causes them to shit. A lot.

In one of the funniest things I've seen in a movie all year, overweight Troma fave Joe Fleishaker shows up as Jared, of Subway fame, who after eating a contaminated egg, gets a brutally hilarious and, in true Troma fashion, over the top case of diarrhea. There's the gargantuan Jared, sitting on the toilet, eating his gravy-covered value meal, as mounds and mounds of painful excrement, or, as he calls them, “shit-geysers”, shoot out of his ass. Yeah, I know that I'm supposed to hate and look down upon shit-jokes, instead champion documentaries about orphans in Darfur, but, sorry, it's fucking hilarious. I shit my own pants from laughing so hard.

OK, so if you're already familiar with Troma, than you know what to expect. But, and here's the kicker, this time it's an original musical. The songs, while not particularly memorable, are way better than to be expected, with the duet between Arby and Lloyd Kaufman (as an older, bitter Arby) being the best number. And, even if the songs aren't that great, I have to give them an infinite amount of Famous Bowls—extra corn, please—for at least doing something different.

POULTRYGEIST will not be an immediate hit. As a matter of fact, it may go unnoticed for a while. But, and mark my words, this will not only become a cult classic, but that one movie that you pass around to your friends, show them at a party that's winding down or watch over and over again when you get bored on a Friday night. Preferably with a big bucket of extra crispy...and that's the mother-cluckin' truth!

When you’re done stuffing yourself on demonic fast food, burn those killer carbs over at the…


Starring Trent Haaga, Sarah Nicklin, Ken Foree

Directed by Richard Griffin

Shock-O-Rama Cinema

With each successive new release, Shock-O-Rama continues to move out of the z-grade “erotic parody” ghetto, becoming a real force to be reckoned with in the straight to video market, with continually original and well-thought out scripts with comedic bits that actually work. SPLATTER DISCO takes this upswing even higher.

The Den O' Iniquity is the neighborhood nightclub that caters to the town's sexual outcasts, like the much-maligned furry community. And while you and I know that furries are a sad-yet-lovable bunch of perverts, the uptight city council doesn't see it that way and threatens to close down the club. Now, if I was a nightclub owner, like Trent Haaga is here, and this club was my dream, not to mention my main source of income, this would be bad enough. I mean, have you ever really tried to fight city hall? It's damn near impossible. So, even with all this on his mind, things go from bad to worse when a serial killer starts knocking off the club's employees.

So, to recap, the city coming down on Trent's ass, and a murderer is cutting his workforce in half, both literally and figuratively. While most of us would throw in the bunny suit, Trent and his cadre of plush pervs fight back, all the while mixing the bloodshed with hilarious musical numbers (including a furry-friendly version of Cole Porter's “Let's Do It”). And this is the real surprise: the songs are actually good. I mean really good. As a matter of fact, the only thing bad that I got to say about this DVD, and it's kind of a back-handed compliment in a way, is that I wish they had included a second disc, a CD of music from the film. I would have really liked to have played “Shank's Theme” on my radio show.

(I would have also enjoyed it if they had sent me a big squirrel outfit to watch the movie and then explore my sexuality with, but I guess that's neither here not there.)

And while comedic displays of shocking sexual behavior is always fun enough, SPLATTER DISCO also throws some really great actors into the mix: genre icons Ken Foree, Lynn Lowry and Debbie Rochon all elevate the flick with their presence, but the real star is the always manically entertaining Trent Haaga, who I will go to my grave proclaiming is the best, and sadly, most underrated, guy working in b-movies. If I see his name in the credits, it's always a guaranteed good time.

But then again, all of SPLATTER DISCO is really a guaranteed good time. It's tough not to enjoy it; it's campy, it's trashy and it's dirty. It's what I'd expect spending an evening at the Den O' Iniquity would be like. This DISCO is most definitely not dead, no matter what those assholes at city hall might say.

But, even an all-night lock-in at the SPLATTER DISCO can't prepare you for the psycho-sexual insanity of the…


Starring Herve Villechaize, Susan Tyrrell, Danny Elfman

Directed by Richard Elfman

Legend Films

If there's one thing that punky fat girls and twee goth twinks can agree on, besides random sex to gain some self-esteem and cutting to get back at daddy, is their love of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Not really a movie as much as a line of hoodies from Hot Topic, it's actually a pretty overrated flick that's really only notable for the archetypal Danny Elfman score.

But, as a longtime fan of Elfman's other work, the music from NIGHTMARE was pretty tame and, dare I say, too mainstream for a guy who made his life celebrating the sounds of the dark and bizarre. Take any of his Oingo Boingo albums, or, even better, take FORBIDDEN ZONE, an intensely insane musical that reeks of ERASERHEAD as done by John Waters, and I mean that as the highest compliment possible. It's the type of movie that will have the aforementioned NIGHTMARE fans running for the hills, tightly clutching their plush Jack Skellington dolls all the way home.

Actually, it reminds me of a story that John Waters tells about how a family, huge fans of the PG-rated HAIRSPRAY, immediately went out and rented another film of his, PINK FLAMINGOS, and was stunned to find a wide open singing asshole mouthing the words “papa-oom-mow-mow” at them. Part of me really wishes that the same thing happens with family fans of NIGHTMARE, with them going out and renting FORBIDDEN ZONE and ending up just as shocked and angry. But, even better, totally befuddled.

Bored in her ramshackle house, Frenchy, the lone daughter of the Hercules family, accidentally dives through a door and slides through the “cosmic intestines” into the Sixth Dimension. The Sixth Dimension, in case you don't know, is an underground S & M playground run by the diminutive—and horny—King Fausto, played by the diminutive—and horny—Herve Villechaize from FANTASY ISLAND.

Frenchy is immediately taken prisoner, which is bad, but then the King falls for her, which is worse, especially since the busty Queen is a jealous tyrant. So, her comically Jewish brother Flash and his mute grandfather Gramps go through the same door and, after butt-fucking some fellow prisoners, are also taken prisoner and put to death in the Royal Septic Tank. They break out and continue their search, which, thankfully, also includes more butt-fucking. There is also a man-sized frog butler that gets in some butt-fucking as well. And then there's Squeezit, the “Chicken-boy”, who is decapitated by Satan, lovingly portrayed by Elfman.

Cardboard sets, no effects, HEAVY METAL-style animation, lots of black-face and zero logic. It's an insane journey and, dare I say, FORBIDDEN ZONE is, at times, a downright creepy, evil little film. But it's a whimsically charming evil little film that's sole purpose is to disturb in every way possible, all to the toe-tapping tunes of Cab Calloway, Josephine Baker, Felix Figueroa and the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo.

FORBIDDEN ZONE should be held up to the lofty pedestal that other cult musicals like ROCKY HORROR or NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS should be, but, then again I'm glad it's not. I'm glad that it's too unlikable and too insane to develop a rabid following. For once, I've got my own outre' musical that will never be co-opted by the drama club, unless that drama club is in Hell. Sell that, Hot Topic!



Louis Fowler is a pop culture critic who is a frequent contributor to Bookgasm, Exploitation Retrospect, Bloody Good Horror, Paracinema Magazine, Carbon 14, Pop Syndicate and The Hungover Gourmet. He's also had pieces featured in mags like Hitch, Scars, Okay Magazine, Eyeball and Microcinema Scene. He has written for such newspapers as the Fort Collins NOW, Rocky Mountain Chronicle, Rocky Mountain Bullhorn and the Colorado Springs Independent.

He's also the award-winning host of DAMAGED Hearing, Tuesdays at 1 PM, MST, on 88.9 KRFC-FM in Fort Collins, CO.

He wears husky jeans.

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