What’s a critic to do when a film threatens to dislodge “Troll 2″ and “Plan 9 from Outer Space” as the worst movie of all time?
Do we take the director of “Birdemic: Shock and Terror,” James Nguyen, at his word when he claims he tried to make the very best film he could and savage the results? Or is this a naked ploy to join the ranks of Ed Wood and “Troll 2’s” Claudio Fragasso as the worst auteurs ever?
WWTW is guessing “Birdemic,” out Feb. 22 on Blu-ray and DVD, is the latter. It seems too self aware, especially when Nguyen arrives at those midnight screenings with a coat hanger in hand to mock one of the movie’s sillier scenes.
Either way, “Birdemic” all but demands a crowd to drink in the film’s epic awfulness. Watching it solo is reserved for the bad movie connoisseur.
“Birdemic” is part romance, part eco-thriller, and each is handled with all the assembled craft of a pre-teen given a camera and a cast incapable of embarrassment.
Love blossoms when Rod (Alan Bagh), a software salesman with plans of starting his own green business, meets an old high school acquaintance named Nathalie (Whitney Moore). The two embark on a sweetly innocent romance complete with stilted conversations and poorly choreographed love making.
But their courtship is interrupted when a gaggle of birds – specifically eagles and other menacing variations – start attacking people out of the blue. Now, the new couple has to stay alive until mankind can figure out why birds are suddenly on the offensive. Hint – Al Gore would undoubtedly approve.
Just how bad is “Birdemic?” If you strip away the amateurish sound dubbing, the lingering shots that amount to nothing, the putrid performances and computer effects that looked like they came from an ’80s era Vic 20 computer, then it’s really not so lousy.
The film’s worst sin is that it’s boring for much of the running time. There’s a certain smirky charm in watching the romance develop, but only because the actors seem so stiff and uninvolved. “Birdemic” perks up when the eagles go on the offensive. Then, we can find small delights in the hammy effects, the exploitative shots of people pecked to death and some truly absurd action sequences.
Moore threatens to actually act a few times, a memo her cast mates didn’t receive. The child actors are a particular hoot. Even the mini-thespians on “Barney” will laugh at the mummified emoting attempted here.
Watching “Birdemic” at home feels like an isolating experience. There’s no crowd to giggle over the atrocious dialogue, and that shared communal bond can’t be summoned.
So if you need to experience movie making at its worst, or have a gaggle of friends with a passion for putrid cinema, you won’t do much better than checking out “Birdemic.”
The Blu-ray extras include footage from midnight showings of the neo-cult classic, an interview with Nguyen on a very, very basic cable chat show, deleted scenes and commentary from Nguyen, Bagh and Moore.
(Photo: Actors Whitney Moore and Alan Bagh, center, keep a sharp eye out for killer birds in “Birdemic: Shock and Terror.” Severin Films)