Lets start with the title: Doesnt Birdemic say it all? What benefit is there to adding Shock and Terror? Its not as if Birdemic didnt sound evil enough; it doesnt require a qualifier. As youll note, however, writer/director/director of photography/producer/executive producer (yes, producer and executive producer, which has to be a cinematic first) James Nguyen is all about giving you more than you need.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your POV), that means seemingly endless footage of his characters walking or driving. Ever been baffled by how characters in movies get from one location to another? This is the film that dares peels back the curtain, showing you every literal step of the process!
Much of Birdemics appeal can be summed up in the fact that when the movie began and the sound started dropping out after lines of dialogue and between cuts, I thought the disc might be flawed. Not at all; thats just how it was made, much like ye olde VHS camcorders used to do.
It starts like a love story much like any other Hollywood product: one between two beautiful young white people. This one, however, was shot for $10,000 in an apparent heavily Vietnamese neighborhood in sunny Northern California, starring two people youve never seen before and arent likely to see again, at least until this years promised/threatened sequel, Birdemic II: The Resurrection 3D.
Rod (Alan Bagh) is a software salesman who just landed his first million-dollar deal, thus meriting a wicked, over-the-cubicle high-five from his best bro. Nathalie, pronounced Natalie (Whitney Moore), is a fashion model whose shoots are conducted at a one-hour photo place in a strip mall. Rod sees her exit a diner, is smitten by her toothy good looks, and approaches her on the sidewalk. Turns out, they had a class together in high school. Turns out, theyre both kinda dumb.
As romance blossoms, the company Rod works for sells for a billion dollars, so hes ready to cash out his stock options for an early retirement. But he wont buy a Ferrari, because hes happy with his Mustang, which is a plug-in hybrid, he notes. It gets 100 mpg. Meanwhile, Nathalie scores her first major gig as the next cover girl for Victorias Secret. You sure will look good in those lingerie, Rod tells her, with Bagh presumably reading straight from Nguyens broken-English script.
Yes, lifes a pretty sweet fruit for our star-crossed couple. What could possibly go wrong?
A birdemic! Thanks to global warming or something like that, the eagles have landed ... and, boy, are they pissed! Much like Alfred Hitchcocks The Birds, but shorn of all that pesky suspense, our once-fine feathered friends have turned into enemies, dive-bombing the area complete with fighter-jet sounds and slashing the throats of an unsuspecting populace. Even after the initial round of carnage, Californians still insist on driving with their windows down, further granting the birds easy access.
(While were on the subject of The Birds, that films star, Tippi Hendren, appears on a TV screen from footage of one of Nguyens previous [!] movies. Male viewers may not spot her, however, as shes shown while Nathalie emerges from a motel bathroom wearing those lingerie for her first lovemaking romp with Rod.)
Rod and Nathalie flee for their lives and fight back, resulting in the funniest dead bird effect youll ever see. Wholly reminiscent of playing Duck Hunt on the Nintendo, the shot never, ever gets old. And believe me, Nguyen shows it as often he can. Its easily the best effect in the movie, with best being highly subjective, as the attacking birds look like they were Colorforms your kid brother stuck on the TV screen.
Somewhere in between, Nguyen finds a valid reason for a secondary character to meet a fate worse than death and thats death while defecating outdoors and stops what forward narrative there is for not one, but two long-winded sermons on the environment. One is delivered by the character of tree hugger, who sports an ill-fitting ponytail wig.
I know were not quite two months deep into 2011, but I dont expect to have a more fun viewing experience this year. My only gripe with Birdemic is that I didnt get to experience it for it is an experience on the big screen. Despite its litany of technical shortcomings, I salute Severin Films for seeing fit to preserve it on Blu-ray for future generations.
Not only that, but they gave it the full treatment in terms of special features, including two audio commentaries; Nguyens on one, not grasping his ineptitude; Moore and Bagh are on the other, often cringing. A featurette on the movies American tour is fun, whereas a half-hour public-access show featuring a Birdemic victim interviewing Nguyen is painful, partly because my ears believe they share the same audio quality, or lack thereof.
Gotta go I think I hear a mountain lion. Rod Lott