Severin Films // 2008 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // March 1st, 2011
Who will survive?
If you cared enough to click on a link about a film called Birdemic: Shock and Terror, there's probably a little bit of a cinematic masochist in you already. That's okay; me too, so it doesn't do anybody any good to declare the movie bad. You already know that. But how bad could it possibly be? If you consider an alternate universe in which Ed Wood directed An Inconvenient Truth as fiction, you might get some idea. Probably not though, you'll really have to see Birdemic to believe it. That, of course, begs the question of why you'd subject yourself to it, but that's your problem.
Things are really coming up Rod lately. This young software salesman (played by Alan Bagh) just made bank after his company got bought out and then met Nathalie (Whitney Moore), a fashion model and the girl of his dreams. His life is suddenly perfect, until a fateful weekend when the lovers travel to Half Moon Bay for a romantic getaway. All of a sudden, eagles and vultures converge to attack, dive bombing gas stations and slashing suckers' throats with their beaks. As two of the few remaining alive, they set out to find some answers and stop these flying freaks. Who can possibly survive, though, with the human race is afflicted with the worst disease of all: Birdemic!
A lot of people will get a big kick out of Birdemic: Shock and Terror, but most will find it ridiculous and unwatchable. Fifteen years ago, I'd have been firmly in Camp A and, while I'm not all the way over into Camp B today, my tolerance for Z-grade cinema has never been lower. I still requested it though, so what does that say about me?
In movies like this, it's usually pretty easy to tell whether a film is so bad because it's a big joke, like Blood Feast, or because of inept filmmakers, like Glen or Glenda. In this case, it isn't obvious one way or the other, but I suspect more than a little delusion from James Nguyen, the creator of this mess. Nguyen appears to believe that not only is this the best possible movie he could have produced, he thinks that there is some kind of valuable message wrapped up in this. I have a cynical view of our future with climate change, but I do not fear that our obsession with cars will cause exploding birds to attack gas stations. Maybe my head's in the sand on this one, but it just doesn't seem like a plausible scenario. Once could argue that The Host isn't any more realistic, but I would counter that The Host is worth a damn. For me to like a movie, there has to be something for me to latch onto, even if it's a tiny thing; the only enjoyment here comes from making fun of it.
It's the mockery of Birdemic that has built its surprising and early cult following. One look at the trailer and there's no doubt how it went viral. It's a train wreck, which puts butts in seats these days, I guess. It was screened by stoners nationwide in hipster college movie taverns, all of whom laughed and laughed, I'm sure. I don't know what they were expecting, but I hope they got it. If you're into truly the worst that cinema has to offer, Birdemic should satisfy your snarky urges. Between some of the absolute lamest CG birds I've ever seen and acting that becomes even worse when you realize that Nguyen coached them to act this way; this is as bad as bad cinema gets.
I really have to hand it to Severin; they do their very best, where available, to bring the most complete editions of their catalog possible, regardless of quality. That they would go so far out of their way for something like Birdemic is proof of their charity. The image looks pretty poor, but that's James Nguyen's fault, not the label's. The transfer is perfectly fine, but the original image is plain awful and there's little they could do. The image is better than the sound, though, which is genuinely one of the worst mixes I've ever listened to. Inexplicably, there is both a surround and a stereo mix, though both sound almost identically terrible. The biggest problem is the fact that the sound cuts outright at fairly regular intervals. It's just makes it more evident how little care went into making the film. Not that what they're saying is interesting, but hearing the actors talk is generally a good thing. Again, not Severin's fault; that's apparently part of the charm of watching this mess.
More odd even than the dual sound mix is the plate of extra features served up for the film; movies a billion times better don't get this kind of treatment. Here we are, though, starting with two commentaries, the first with Nguyen and the second with the lead actors. Nguyen's commentary in part proves his delusions, as he appears to have no sense of humor about his film at all. Like many of these bottom barrel directors, he is so proud of what he's done that he can't see it for what it is. The actors have a little more perspective and, though they acknowledge the terribleness of the film, they are still happy to have their first project under their belts. I suppose they do the best they can in the film, but they sure sound more like actual people in the commentary. Moving on, we have a couple of deleted scenes, though they obviously add nothing to the film. With a series of short clips from premieres across the country, a long form interview with Nguyen on Bonnie Steiger's Movie Close Up, a San Francisco public access program, trailers, and an electronic press kit, even the most ridiculous Birdemic fan will call this overkill.
On the positive side of the movie, anybody who dreams of being a filmmaker but says, "I could never actually make a movie myself," should watch Birdemic. All that apprehension will disappear; if a new movie this inept can get distribution, on Severin, no less, so can theirs. They cannot possibly do worse.
As I finish this review, I discover that Nguyen is currently working on Birdemic 2 in 3D. Good luck with that.
Review content copyright © 2011 Daryl Loomis; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Severin Films
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Press Kit
* Official Site