Thursday, March 10, 2011

Only a Birdemic Could Cause True Shock and Awe--I Mean, Terror

Every now and then, a film comes around that is made with such ineptitude and yet released with expensive fanfare that the Internet has to pause and say “Did you SEE that?” 
We remember The Room. And now, we will never forget you, Birdemic: Shock and Terror. Writer/director/possible insane in a really happy way James Nguyen has done something...special.
Quick Plot: Superstar software salesman Rod catches sight of Natalie, an old high school crush turned fashion model--not just a fashion model, a BEAUTIFUL fashion model who assembles her portfolio out of shoots done at a One Hour Photo. 

After about 45 minutes worth of dating--complete with double dates to great movies like An Inconvenient Truth, a visit with Natalie’s real estate dreaming mom, bar dances to autotuned lip synching and a romantic evening in Victoria’s Secret cover girl Natalie’s Days Inn apartment, the pair awaken to discover the world is being ATTACKED BY EAGLES.

Don’t you hate it when that happens? One day, your company has just been bought out for millions and your proposal for solar energy has instantly earned another $10 million in funding. You’ve re-met the girl of your dreams (whom you took English with in high school and yet still ask where she’s from) and there’s a pumpkin festival to boot. Life is great.

And then there are Atari caliber birds pecking townspeople’s faces off.

So yes, at a certain point, Birdemic makes good on its Hitchcockian references to go all out birding. Natalie and Rod luckily team up with another couple, this one well-equipped with clothes hangers, machine guns, and a van ideal for grabbing fellow survivors. Soon to join the crew is a pair of horridly obnoxious and always hungry children who really just want some Happy Meals. The group grows and shrinks due to some hilariously failed rescue attempts, toxic bird poop, actors who quit filming halfway through and spectacular stranger encounters, including a random admitted tree hugger with the world’s greatest wig. He has to go though, because he hears a mountain lion. But it was nice meeting you!
Sigh. Birdemic is truly something special, something that, much like Unborn Sins, just doesn’t come around often and really, shouldn’t. The more Birdemics we get the less exciting they are, because when you think of it, ANYBODY can make a movie. It’s the scale at which that anybody fails--and ironically enough, succeeds at getting it distributed in such a way where it seems real--that makes something like Birdemic or The Room a treat. I’ve rented awful amateur films before, as have many daring horror fans, but Birdemic’s all-out enthusiasm and obliviousness makes it the kind of event you have to witness.

Take, for example, the extended opening credits sequence wherein a car drives ever so slowly down a long country road. Nothing overly offensive about it, save for the fact that a) the music has about six bars and loops over and over again for nearly 6 minutes b) that the non-lead actors are listed as “Supporting Casts,” as if there were multiple groupings and c) that the actual driver was actor Alan Bagh who, according to the commentary, was holding up traffic by following the Nguyen’s direction to take things slow. It’s just one example in 90 minutes of more that shows a certain brand of innocent and optimistic moviemaking at its wors--I mean, finest.
Lessons Learned
Contrary to Joan Crawford’s mantra, wire hangers do have a purpose

Bratty kids are always hungry and quite picky about it
You never know what can happen in life. You might start off as a software engineer and end up, a SALES MAN!
Just because there are swarms of killer birds flying in the sky is no reason to not enjoy the outdoors with extended picnics, games of catch, woodsy number twos or fishing expeditions

Sometimes an apostrophe can go wherever it wants, whether it belongs there or not. Hello, Dream Model’s!
In order to fight global warming, we should act as astronauts. Or something

Victoria’s Secret lingerie is so comfortable, you won’t ever want to take it off...even when sleeping

Had Birdemic been intentionally made as badly as it is, the film wouldn’t be worth your time. However, having now listened to director James Nguyen’s commentary (and following a painfully honest one with stars Bagh and the much brighter Whitney Moore), I’m pretty sure that this was a film made from the heart...and really misguided brain. It is terrible, and therefore, awesome. Lines don’t get better than “I’m really hungry. I’ve been under the car for a long time,” “Gotta get back to work. You know, sensual work” and “Hey! There are dead people on the side of the road, let’s see if there are any survivors.” The sound drops out more than boobs appear in Showgirls, the effects are less impressive than a kindergardener’s popsicle stick picture frame and the politics more earnest than Al Gore at an open mike poetry slam, and man, it’s all amazing. The DVD includes a bevy of special features, including the aforementioned honest commentary from the lead actors who do indeed point out just what kind of a film they discovered they were making following their auditions in a high school parking lot. It’s THAT kind of movie.

And it's spectacular.


  1. I couldn't get into the spirit of this film, although I did like the female lead. I realize they didn't set out to make a bad film, but irregardless this one is joyless.

  2. I agree about Whitney Moore! I think she genuinely has some promise, and based on the commentary, she seems to have a pretty good attitude as well.

    Sad you didn't enjoy it. It's a film that I suppose most people will either love or hate, and that is that.

  3. I'd love to hear the commentary from the actors- I've only ever heard from the director, who is obviously completely clueless about everything.

    Supposedly he's working on a sequel with a decent-sized budget, which will just be a train wreck. Obviously that's what the investors are hoping for, as Birdemic is a train wreck that works incredibly well on the midnight movie circuit- but it ONLY works I think, because of the "purity" you pointed out. You can't purposefully make a movie this completely inept and awful. Adding more money (and professionals) to the mix is going to ruin it.

  4. I highly recommend the actors' commentary. There's some great anecdotes about filming, including how the makeup artist quit and Nguyen told Whitney Moore to take over because "girls know how to do makeup." She seemed like a pretty good sport about it, with the other lead actor coming off like a deer in the headlights. Entertaining stuff.

    I'd worry about a sequel for the very reasons you cite. What's going to happen when experienced actors actually try to make the dialogue sound good or worse, really bad? I mean I'll still go SEE the next one, but I worry a part of my innocence might die with it...

  5. I think Whitney made the first half tolerable, both from a hotness standpoint and a competent acting standpoint (and her dancing yo!). Once the shit hits the fan, it's pretty awesome. I especially like that the survivalist guy, presumably out for a normal drive, has an endless supply of automatic weapons in the back of the van. "Oh, you need an already loaded ak-47 with a laser scope? I happen to have one right here!"

    Adam Carolla did a pretty funny interview with Nguyen on his podcast, where he constantly made fun of him under his breath and Nguyen was clueless the entire time.

    There is a little known Mexican movie called "Beaks the Movie", which was shot as a straight horror film like Birdemic, but promoted as an Airplane-esque spoof (incouding the title change), even though any humor was unintentional. That one is not nearly as entertaining though.

  6. Agreed Thomas, she maintained some dignity in a VERY difficult situation. And I do love how the survivalist never once runs out of ammo. And also has toilet paper in the car for emergency number 2s.

    I might check out that Carolla interview. Nguyen just seems so happy and pleased with everything!

    And thanks for the tip on Beaks. I'll look for it!

  7. Argh! I have no idea whether I should watch this or not. Everytime I decide not to, I see another review like yours that pushes me back to the other side of the fence. Maybe...
    I thought the Carolla interview was painfully embarrassing. I just couldn't figure out for who though. I did learn that vultures are birds of prey just like eagles.

  8. It's tough, because I do know people who I THOUGHT would really dig it but were quite underwhelmed. I think watching it with the understanding that this was made earnestly makes a big difference. You DO have to slog through a dreadful 45 minute courtship, but I dunno...I found that in itself funny.

    Maybe wait til instant watch and for buzz to die down?

  9. Yes, this movie is ridiculously funny. And I know someone who met the director when he was first out schlepping the film, and he was dead serious about how great the movie was.

    Man, that actress is HOT though...

  10. Well duh! She WAS scheduled to be on the cover of the next VIctoria's Secret magazine.

  11. I really, really want to hear the actors' commentary. All interviews with James Nguyen are too painful for me, though. Maybe it's because I'm Southern, but bless his heart, I can't stand seeing him made fun of to his face while he is so oblivious.

  12. I highly recommend it. If you think Nguyen's interviews are painful, just imagine what the actors went through on set!

  13. Branan just gave me this link after I recommended he watch the film. I watched it with friends and howled - but HOWLED - with laughter. We couldn't keep up with it all, but I swear the lead actor said something about driving a hybrid Corvette.
    I think more people should know the horror of being attacked by a screen saver.
    -- Aaron Whitehead

  14. Ooooh, I hope that means he wants to watch it too! I've been ITCHING to revisit this one! Although I really think that it's almost more fun with the actors' commentary track. To realize what they were put through is either tragic or hilarious, or more likely, a beautiful combination of the two.