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June 24, 2010

There’s no way around it, Birdemic: Shock and Terror is simply the worst film ever produced and distributed. Even if you take all the films ever featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, none of them would equal the suckiness of Birdemic— except maybe Manos: The Hands of Fate… maybe. Yet Birdemic has inspired a new goal in my life: once my future children reach an age where they can sit through and comprehend a film, I will make them watch Birdemic. Not because I sometimes receive pleasure from the pain of others, but because I know that every movie afterwards will be a gem. I also plan to make them re-watch it every 5 years just so they can appreciate beautifully made films. However I have taken into account that this idea may backfire as every movie will be a masterpiece in comparison to Birdemic. Have I stressed how awful this movie is yet?

Nevertheless in its horrific laziness it’s the first film I’ve ever watched that has lived up to the title “so bad it’s good.” For decades this phrase has been applied to the films of Ed Wood as well as the B-movies of the 1950s and onward. While the films of Wood and most of the ones featured on IMDB’s Bottom 100 are indeed awful, they are also plain out boring with the exception of the socially aware Glen or Glenda and the hilarious cult classic Trolls 2. I’ve never been able to sit through Manos, Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Room, or lately even Batman and Robin because while they are utter pieces of crap, they were the products of people who seriously worked hard to make what they thought was a great film. However Birdemic’s director James Nguyen created a film so majestically awful that it seems his thought process throughout filming each scene was “fuck it, we’ll fix it in post.” Many times throughout Birdemic I felt an uncontrollable dryness in my mouth— I realized it was from staring open mouthed in shock at the decisions being made before my eyes.

Inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 The Birds, Birdemic incoherently tells the story of a developing relationship between old highschool classmates Rod and Nathalie. As the two blossom to an odd shallow shell of a couple, strange goings on began to take place around them; the attack of high pitched screeching Eagles whom are somehow able to shoot balls of fire. Rod and Nathalie attempt to stay safe from the birds by having outdoor picnics, going for walks, and just enjoying nature, that is when they are not travelling to an unnamed destination picking up random hitchhikers along the way.

Undoubtedly the films two best characters, Dr. Jones and the tree-house living “tree hugger” Tom Hill, explain that global warming is to blame for the attacks. According to Dr. Jones bird flu, West Nile, Sars and “40 species have become extinct because of global warming,” a statement that is completely false with not one shred of evidence. Hill assures the group that the bird attacks are the least of their problems as the Redwood trees of the forest preservation he lives in are dying out because of the lack of rain and the beetles that used to die out in winter that are now living and killing the trees because of global warming. The scene then cuts to a shot of a group of perfectly healthy and average trees to ‘prove’ his point as Hill states, “damn global warming! It’s the cause of dry climate and bark beetles and death to the trees and forests.” Yes these lines and facts are actually in the film indicating Nguyen had to think at some point “to hell with facts people won’t notice.”

The overstated social commentary is far from being Birdemic’s only flaw. The editing is so jumbled and inconsistent that it’s appalling. In one scene the group jumps into their closed window van as the CGI birds slowly and awkwardly glide toward them while being shot at with machine guns. The scene cuts to a medium close-up of the van with now wide open windows indicating the obvious fault of the actor who forgot to let it down in the previous shot. Scenes consist of shots with dramatically different lighting and background noise edited together with scenes that are overdubbed and other times completely inaudible. Lighting is highly unnatural and unflattering for the actors, the acting is fake and wooden, and the soundtrack is God-awful.

In one scene between Nathalie and her mother, the two women theatrically interact with each other reminding the audience that they are the most amateur of actors. Both women forget their lines throughout the scene and attempt to improvise instead resulting in an awkward and repetitive conversation with both women rambling on incoherently. Nguyen refuses to take advantage of using a digital camera to reshoot these scenes, instead he solves the problem by awkwardly cutting right in the middle of one characters lines to the other ones digression.

Descriptions alone don’t do this film justice. It’s blatantly awful but to be honest I enjoyed it and laughed my ass off. When I first saw the trailer, I debated its authenticity as it looked so bad I was positive that it was a parody. Yet upon the first 15 minutes of watching Birdemic (the first 10 or so is the long-winded title sequence) it’s obvious that they were entirely serious when filming this. Although laughter is almost inevitable, there are no redeeming qualities for Birdemic. This won’t be a film that is studied decades from now and seen as a misunderstood gem like Bringing Up Baby (still terrible in my opinion) or Glen or Glenda. However if you’re WWI (watching while intoxicated), watching with an audience, or get humor from B/low budget films then expect atleast a giggle from Birdemic.

AVOID IT… but see it just for the experience.

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