Last year, Best Worst Movie transcended type to argue for the communal cult merits of a horribly mediocre horror movie entitled Troll 2. Actually having little to do with the Band-produced disaster of the same (or similar) name, this incredibly unsane effort by Italian Claudio Fragasso was a self-professed pro-ecology diatribe, an attempt to warn the world about environmental issues by having a bunch of poorly monster masked extras turn lead actors into plants so they could eat them (Yeah -you take a stab at the logic in that one...). Embraced by a bored college mindset eager to find their own "So Bad, It's Good" calling card, Troll 2 has become a benchmark of sorts, a simmering subgenre which has seen other fabulous disasters such as Tommy Wiseau wonderfully crap The Room and Gary Oldman's dwarf turn in Tip Toes equally embraced. Now cinematic novice James Nguyen has unleashed his amazingly untalented turd entitled Birdemic: Shock and Terror on an avian-flu weary world - and just like Fragasso, this god-awful trainwreck of a "romantic thriller" is supposed to be a warning against raping our natural resources and to those who dismiss global warning. Oh, and it's its own "Best Worst Movie" in the making, and with good reason.
Rod has returned to his old stomping ground (somewhere in Northern California) to seal the deal on selling his Internet start-up. The soon to be independently wealthy worm wants to quickly cash in so he can invest his anticipated billions (that's with a "b") into a solid solar panel concern. While at a diner, he runs into Victoria's Secret model Nathalie. She's perky and cute, and there is an instant attraction. While TVs shout caveats about the rise in environmental worries, our newfound pair wine, dine and fall in love. Eventually, they make whoopie, resulting in a kind of karmic retaliation by Mother Nature. Suddenly, for some inexplicable reason, the local population of fowls goes ape feces on our lovers, attacking them (and the rest of the town) with bad F/X inert abandon. With the help of an ex-Marine named Tony and his constantly-has-to-crap gal pal Susan, they try to escape the flying frightmare. Little do they know that there is no real escape from what has rapidly become a massive...BIRDEMIC!
Birdemic is the kind of movie Rip-Taylor made for that hoary old "must be seen to be believed" proverb. Take away the entirely ridiculous backstory involving the world's lankiest (and potentially skankiest) 'supermodel', the successful dot.com entrepreneur who has about as much business savvy as sex appeal, or the random idiots these two run into while trying to escape the unholy avian menace being unleashed. Ignore the hideous sound design that sees conversational pauses covered up with dead silence, so that all ambient noise and other ancillary sounds suddenly jump in and jump out with whiplash regularity. Heck, even the phony fake-ass photoshopped birds meant to drive the public to mass hysterics are about as convincing as those magnified dime store lizards loved by Bert I. Gordon. No, the real revelation here, aside from the supposed cinematic fact that Earth is headed for as many '-demics' as there are species (Slothdemics? Guinea Pigdemics? Hello Kittydemics?) is that humanity's undoing will not be as a result of a horrific nuclear winter or a prescient alien invasion. No, acidic bird shit is going to dethrone us from the top of the food chain, the potent poo packing more lethal weaponry than Mel Gibson or his recent tape recorded tirades combined.
God Bless James Nguyen and his no holds (or brains) barred approach to making a point. This is a man lost in his own unusual world, a place where a romantic evening out includes a performance by an incompetent rapper at an Irish Pub (you read that right...) and escapes are constantly countermanded by much needed trips to the toidy. He also believes that nothing sells a premise more than endlessly talking about it for 45 minutes. Yep, in between all the sexual tension and proposed animal magnetism between our paramours, aside from the faked photo shoots and high tech business deal, tension and suspense are fused to a storyline that won't shut up. YAK, YAK, YAK, YAK - that's all Rod and Nathalie do. Then the angry birds show up and start shitting on everyone. Soon, comedy's favorite natural slapstick prop is taking the paint off cars, burning flesh, and more or less guaranteeing that no one will look at their parakeet's dirty cage the same way ever again. Accompanied by a high pitched bird whine that would make teething infants jealous, Nguyen pours on the preposterousness, and we just sit back, gobsmacked...and grinning.
That's because Birdemic: Shock and Terror manages that magical movie transformation from wholly unwatchable waste of time to instant addiction. It's like experiencing a horrific car wreck re-assemble itself over and over again, promising an even more memorable crash and burn just around the corner. Because of his brazen naiveté toward all things creatively competent, Nguyen puts his honest, untapped Id up on the screen, a surreal combination of earnest care for this home planet and blatant disregard for the foundations of filmmaking, the combination creating a kind of awful movie nirvana. As our eyes dry from unblinkingly drinking in every incompetent moment, as we wonder what moron at everyone's favorite lingerie outlet signed Ms. Skinny Ass up as a potential spokesmodel, as we gasp at flaming bird turds rocketing from the air like so many prison toilet paper rolls, we come to a blatant realization. Screw Inception. Tell The Social Network and The King's Speech to go to Hell. Even though it's been around the release block a couple of times (and years), Birdemic: Shock and Terror is the 2010's Best. Not because it's good, mind you. Because it's such a jaw-droppingly deranged movie mamma jamma.
Considering how it was shot (apparently, without ancillary lighting, a clear concept of framing and composition, or a clue) and the relative state of visual continuity applied, Severin's treatment of Birdemic is pretty great. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image looks clean and crisp, though there is a significant lack of detail in the overall design. This can be chalked up to Nguyen's questionable way with things like scope and focus. There are no real issues with flaring or bleeding, and the overall quality is excellent. While not even remotely close to reference quality (This movie? Reference quality?), the image is still good.
Oh boy - here we go again. It needs to be stressed that, when the microphone is not open to capture yet another mindless bit of blather between the actors, Nguyen turns the thing off - completely. That means that the Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 mixes both accentuate this irritating 'loudQUIET' conceit to epic proportions. Elsewhere, the hideous electronic orchestration score ratchets up the ridiculousness factor 50 fold. It's like listening to a religious cable channel's idea of low budget science fiction.
Severin goes out of its way to make this DVD package as purchasable as possible, beginning with a pair of commentary tracks that will have you doubled up in side-splitting pain. Nguyen is present to defend himself and his wall-eyed view of the final product is worthy of inclusion in the Louvre. The man believes he has made a significant call to arms, an Inconvenient Truth with bird crap, if you will. Next up, our chemistry free lovers - actually actors Alan Bagh and Whitney Moore - show up to discuss elements of the film they will need to remember for future Comic-con and convention appearances. They are a little cheeky in their "praise", but overall they tend to keep the badmouthing at bay. We then get a collection of deleted scenes (yes, Nguyen actually CUT STUFF OUT...) and they are shocking in their exclusion. Next, we have a fun featurette centering on the "Birdemic" Experience Tour, a collection of trailers and teasers, an appearance by Nguyen on a show called Movie Close Up, and an electronic press kit. While one would love an F/X Making-of (who doesn't want to learn the basics of the Commodore 64), this digital presentation is pretty sweet.
While most of this review seems like senseless hype for a hideous excuse for a bad 90 minutes at the home movies, Birdemic: Shock and Terror is the kind of misguided mess that reinvigorates your love of all things horrible and hackneyed. It's an experience akin to having hot needles shoved into your aesthetic and twisted about randomly until that old dormant mainstream mindset is scorched and sizzling for some pleasure. If Hitchcock were alive - and there is a clever cameo awaiting those in the Birds know - he'd be hitting himself over Nguyen's ability to deconstruct his experiment in 'nature gone mad' terror. Either that, or he'd be suing his post-modern pants off. Easily earning a Highly Recommended rating, Birdemic: Shock and Terror is the perfect subpar cinematic Super Bowl experience. Invite your friends over, set up some film-inspired refreshments (Predigested seafood salad? Acidic seagull poo pate?) and kick back for an equally violent blow to the body. Birdemic: Shock and Terror is not only the new Best Worst Movie, it's the Best Best Worst Movie in a very long time.
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