There’s a movie out there who’s visual effects not only left me speechless, but the story was so exciting it had me on the edge of my seat. I’ll bet you think I’m talking about Guardians of the Galaxy or Captain America, aren’t you? Well, my friend, I’m sorry to say you’re wrong. I’m here to talk about the greatest B-Movie ever made, Birdemic: Shock and Terror. Or as I like to call it, Schlock and Error.
If you visited RailingKill before, you know that I am a fan of bad movies. I don’t know what personality flaw or brain disorder I suffer from, but I can’t get enough of painful-to-watch cinema. I also like good movies. I’ll watch Star Wars, The Godfather, Last Picture Show, or Roadhouse any time and often many times, but bad movies are what I look forward to the most. I think the main attraction of these movies for me is the fact that the filmmaker actually set out thinking they were making a groundbreaking, good film. They had to write a script (although that part is not that obvious judging by some of the movies I’ve seen), pitch it to a studio, attract investors, and commit it to film. Then comes the arduous task of editing and releasing it for public consumption. When I watch these movies I like to try and identify the part in the film where the producer and director came to the sad realization that they created a pile of crap. For any Mission Impossible film, that point is usually right after the opening credits.
Synopsis: Birdemic: Shock and Terror is the story of Rod, a Silicon Valley salesman (modeled after the film’s writer and director James Nguyen) who works at a small company. His telephone sales skills are acted out so poorly that I’m convinced he couldn’t sell ice water in hell, yet he manages to make a million dollar sale over the phone thus impressing his Community Theater reject of a coworker. On the phone, he tells the customer that his company’s software usually costs $1 million dollars, but he’ll discount it to $500 thousand, to which the customer immediately agrees to buy it! WOW, how realistic!
The tiny company gets bought out by Oracle for (insert Dr. Evil voice) one BILLION dollars. Now he has stock options that make him an instant millionaire, allowing him to start his own company that makes solar panels. He quickly secures funding from venture capitalists for a measly $10 million.
Next he meets Nathalie, a supermodel who does her photo shoots at a One-Hour photo located in a strip mall (I’m not making that up). She lands a contract with Victoria’s Secret and runs to tell her mom, who is strangely thrilled to hear that her daughter will be splaying her goods in the name of lingerie sales. The movie painfully follows their awkwardly growing romance for the first 45 minutes of the film.
With all of his money, he decides to take Nathalie on a romantic getaway to Half Moon Bay where he rents the smallest, crapiest, by-the-hour motel room he can find. Infatuated with Rod’s frugality, they actually have sex… Fully clothed, awkwardly acted, overly loud lip smack-ey sex. You would think that a love scene involving a supposed Victoria’s Secret supermodel would be something really cool to watch, however this movie managed to turn this scenario into a disturbingly awkward and hard to digest visual that will haunt you forever.
Things suddenly go haywire when they wake the next morning, physically spent from having fully clothed non-sex, to find eagles are attacking their motel room. Let me take a moment here to say that the ‘birds’ are supposed to be eagles, but they look worse than the birds in that free shooting game that came with the original Nintendo gaming system in the 80’s. The special effects are so bad that I can’t imagine anyone thinking these CGI (in this case standing for Crappy Graphics Inserted) birds looked in any way real, convincing, or flight-worthy. One reviewer said it best, saying the bird special effects made it look like “Duck Hunt: The Movie.”
After waiting out the first round of attacks, they try and find others in the motel that they can mooch a ride from. This point confused me because Rod has a, get this, hybrid Mustang that gets 100MPG. I guess the director only had it rented for a couple of days so they had to hitch a ride with the couple next door. The man is a disgruntled Iraq war vet who laments the all important liberal mantra, “Can’t we just give peace a chance?” For the rest of the film they travel in an old, disheveled minivan and shoot birds with an assault rifle and a pistol, y’know, the kind of guns that are just perfect for bird hunting. Somewhere along the way, the other couple dies from bird strikes. The girl dies while squatting in a field to take a dump (I’m not making that up either), and her equally acting-challenged boyfriend dies while trying to do something with some people on a bus or something.
Critique: Birdemic has officially overtaken “Manos, the Hands of Fate” as the absolute worst movie I have ever seen. That’s saying a lot because Manos was a lot harder to make. Manos was shot in the late 60’s with silent movie era wind-up cameras (it was all Hal Warren, the director, writer, star, and producer could afford). He then had to take the completed film and lip-sync the whole movie’s dialog in a soundstage. Many of the actors did not participate in the post production voiceover so Hal and his wife supplied the voices for almost all of the characters in the film. Birdemic was a little easier to shoot, but with worse results. The sound would have been better if they hired a five year old to take Dixie cups and run a strand of yarn between them. The movie does list an editor, but I have yet to be convinced there was any actual editing done to this film. The scenes are horribly put together, with ambient sounds changing from shot to shot. I wouldn’t be surprised if they told us that the movie was shot scene for scene, one after the other, and never edited.
Another annoying point of this film is the shameless pitch that Global Warming is responsible for eagles attacking man, and many other bad things. Keep in mind this movie was made in 2008, just before Global Warming was exposed as the laughable, junk-science, grant money furnace it’s referred to as today. The film is peppered with over-the-top environmentally friendly dialog, making it about as unwatchable and inaccurate as any Michael Moore waste of celluloid. There’s a scene where the couple goes to a movie, conveniently located in a tiny strip mall, and walks through the parking lot talking with another couple about how great the film “An Inconvenient Truth” is. I had to pause the movie at this point, having thrown up in my mouth a little. The film also features another favorite liberal villain, the evil business owner who takes advantage of people during this crisis and charges $100 for a gallon for gas!
There’s an incredibly funny scene, not intentional of course, where they see two wrecked cars on the side of the road, victims of an obvious bird attack, and decide check for survivors. The adults in the cars are dead, looking like they had smeared pepperoni pizza across their faces prior to dying. They find two kids hiding in the cars and take them along. The underlying theme of this scene is that the people who were attacked and killed drove a gas-guzzling SUV and a large gas-guzzling Cadillac, while those driving economical cars were spared. What makes it funny is that there is a stream of cars driving by them that are going about their lives, completely unaffected by the Birdemic, yet these four clowns are being harassed and followed by the killer eagles. I can only imagine what the unsuspecting people in the passing cars were thinking as they drove past the fake car crash and people walking around with pistols and assault rifles.
In summary, the film is boring and void of anything resembling a plot or action. The characters are so poorly acted out that you don’t really develop any kind of feelings for them or their situation. At least when other bad movie makers realize that their film has about as much appeal as a Kardashian, they pepper it with gore, nudity, and jokes in an attempt to hold the viewers interest. This film has none of that. Add to this the underlying theme of Global Warming causing everything bad, which is skillfully driven into your head with the subtlety of a Louisville Slugger, makes me glad I own an SUV and numerous gas powered lawn equipment. Lovers of Al Gore will probably watch this film with their pants around their ankles, as his junk-science backed meme is repeated so often in this film I’m convinced he financed most of it.
NOTE: This film is available on Netflix Streaming. So, gather some friends and be prepared for a laughably good time. For added value, you can hear the RiffTrax version of the film (done by the guys who made Mystery Science Theater 3000).