R109 Birdemic: Shock and Terror

(2008, Horror-ish/Drama-esque/Romance-ish, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

I don’t think anyone told this movie it was in a movie.

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:

A software salesman and a supermodel survive a killer bird attack.


SHOCK... and TERROR!Software salesman Rod meets supermodel Nathalie in a restaurant. They hit it off and have many boring conversations about nothing in particular while separately and simultaneously expending no effort whatsoever to become multi-millionaires. Eager to celebrate their newly obtained wealth and blossoming relationship, the happy couple drives from San Jose to Half Moon Bay, drinks in the cheapest bar they can find, and dances in said bar to horrible karaoke rap (a good-natured little ditty about, uh, incest?). Despite the fact that they’re less than an hour from home, they crash in a cheap motel. Way to live the life, guys.

We’re at minute forty-six, by the way. Minute forty-seven begins, the sun comes up and so do the killer birds. Said birds are 1990s-videogame-graphics-quality representations of golden eagles, which flap their wings slowly while hovering in midair and/or flying at three inches per minute in rigid formation. Rod has lost his keys (?) so he and Nathalie head downstairs to the room of another couple. This van-possessing couple produces anti-bird clothes hangers to beat the feathery interlopers away while they make for their vehicle. Said vehicle is, of course, well-stocked with automatic weapons and several hundred thousand rounds of ammunition.

Cower in fear, birds, for we wield the clothes hangers of doom! (+1 bludgeoning damage, +5 against feathers).The intrepid foursome endlessly circles San Mateo County, rescuing trapped orphans and raiding ruined convenience stores for supplies. The clothes hanger woman dies while taking a crap on the beach (how I wish I had made that up). Distraught, her husband/lover/significant other (?) forces a bunch of refugees out of shelter at gunpoint under the pretext of “rescuing” them. They all perish horribly when the eagles demonstrate a previously unrevealed ability to vomit highly caustic poison.

Having inherited the van, Rod, Nathalie and their two orphaned foundlings circle the county further, stopping occasionally for picnics and environmentalist claptrap. Two separate wandering “experts” identify the cause of avian aggression as global warming. One of them dons a facemask and pulls a gun to jump back into the fray. The other exclaims, “I hear a mountain lion!” and scampers off into the underbrush. Shortly thereafter, the woods burst into ridiculous CGI flames.

What else? Oh yeah, some more bird attacks. Our heroes finally run out of gas and decide to go fishing. After a nourishing meal of fish and seaweed, the birds attack again. Then they stop. Roll the end credits.


So, birds burst into flame on impact?While many have compared James Nguyen’s Birdemic to Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (current reigning Uncomfortable Ineptitude King), I don’t see that they have much in common. Sure, they’re both terrible films made by rank amateurs, but the similarities peter out after that. Wiseau’s pet project oozes passion—badly misused, awfully performed passion, but there you go. Nguyen’s magnum opus, on the other hand, is a dry, lifeless collection of only tenuously connected bits of film. Personality-wise, it’s practically a nonentity. If we must compare it to something, let’s measure it against its closest MST3K cousin, Manos: The Hands of Fate. Amateur cinematography? Poorly recorded sound? Surly non-actors with poor diction in every role? A script that sounds like they made it up as they went along? A lengthy, pointless driving sequence to start the whole thing off? Are we sure Nguyen wasn’t deliberately copying Hal Warren?

Also, exactly what route are these morons travelling? In the amount of time we see them driving, I could almost make it home to Santa Rosa. In the amount of time the film implies they’d been driving, I could get at least as far as Oregon.

Fortunately for us, the Rifftrax crew will sometimes reach into the bottom of the barrel and lift an irredeemable film, making it much funnier than it deserves to be. This is one of those times. A few favorite comments: Our first shot of a non-driving person (maybe fifteen minutes in) introduces us to Rod and his constant companion, Rod’s Walk. This prompts Bill’s comment, “Where’s that shop that sells instructions on how to walk like a human?” As moron Rod and his moron friend discuss the sensuous ways of womenfolk, Mike scolds, “Your air hump just gave us air herpes.” When Nathalie goes home to discuss her relationship with her oversized mother, Kevin asks, “You sure that isn’t both her parents in some kind of suit?” The numerous videogame references deserve special mention, with Kevin’s, “The aliens in Galaga look more like real birds than those things,” and his speculation on why the birds are so angry, “Maybe green pigs stole their eggs.” Also, after many, many rounds fired wildly at slow-moving bird graphics, Bill says, “I’m surprised the dog hasn’t popped up and snickered at them yet.” Also... uh. Okay. I won’t quote the whole commentary at you. If I have to stop myself from doing that, you know they’ve done a good job.