How is it possible that I haven’t written about the catastrophically inept Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2008) yet? The film has a reputation for awfulness that rivals that of The Room (2003), but without the Rocky Horror-esque fan club that shows up at every Room screening to hurl wisecracks and plastic spoons. What would you hurl at a Birdemic screening? Paper airplanes with pictures of birds painted on them? That would be 30 times more convincing than the actual CGI bird effects in the film.
Birdemic is astonishingly bad. We don’t see a single bird until 47 minutes into the film, and then bam! Instant bird apocalypse. We go from a tender sex scene to a shot of a devastated California, the sky alive with winged malevolence. It really is that sudden. Everything prior to this has been an unbelievably stilted love story.
Let’s back up a bit, and address the *cough* “romance” that makes up the entire first half of Birdemic. Some will say that it is hilarious/amazing/awful because of the terrible acting. That is a half-truth; it’s actually hilarious/amazing/awful because the female lead (Whitney Moore) can actually act, and the male lead (Alan Bagh) cannot. That makes the entire thing a million times more ridiculous than if both actors had been inept. It looks like a love story between a hot chick and a robot. Nathalie (Moore) smiles sweetly at her new boyfriend Rod (Bagh), displaying what appears to be genuine human emotion and affection. He stares blankly back at her, like he’s trying to pick a response from the drop-down menu in his HUD that will hide the fact that he’s come back from the future to kill Sarah Connor.
If it was just a story about a fashion model falling in love with an automaton, that would be bad enough, but I’ve seen home movies that were better shot, framed and edited than this piece of shit. The sound drops out entirely several times per scene. Actors stare into the camera, wait for their cues, say their lines, and wait for an edit that arrives four seconds later. The opening credits play over a pointless driving scene that’s every bit as dull as the one in Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966), only this time the camera is at a crooked angle. (Jesus, fellas, prop it up with a beer can or something!) Every time a character goes somewhere, we see the entire journey (man exits house, gets in car, drives extra slow, arrives, parks, gets out, walks extra slow, enters building) in real time. It would be unbearable if it weren’t so damn funny.
Then, after 47 minutes, the birds finally attack. Oh Jesus, the birds. I can’t describe how half-assed the special effects are. You could replace them with that old “flying toaster” screen saver from the early ’90s, and it would be just as effective. Some of the attacking eagles actually flap their wings, while others just hover in mid-air. From time to time, a bird will dive to the ground (with a crashing airplane sound effect) and explode into unconvincing CGI flames. It’s hysterical.
In addition to kamikaze birds, we get to see ninja birds (an eagle slashes a guy’s throat and keeps on flying), and acid-spraying birds (wait, what?). While society collapses around them (but traffic remains perfectly normal), Rod and Nathalie drive around aimlessly, encountering fellow survivors. Some ask for help, others threaten them, and a few characters launch into unprovoked monologues about the environment, and how we should have known that global warming would lead to dive-bombing suicide eagles that spit acid.
Best seen with a group of rowdy friends, Birdemic: Shock and Terror is great fun to watch. The frequent pauses in the stilted dialogue afford ample opportunity for viewer wisecracks, and the amateurish filmmaking and SFX will have you all rolling on the floor. This is one of those rare bad movies that deserves its reputation as a must-see.