Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)

Joan_PINK_YELLOW_flat_CMYK_REV.psdSo I have this list of 60 movies that I was By God gonna watch this year, and I entered December not really sure I was going to pull it off. That’s generally a very busy period for me, and I was contemplating the very real possibility of carrying over any leftovers into 2013. Yes, I will be doing this again next year, the list is almost completely built. The major innovation will be starting it in January instead of later in the year.

So, anticipating this crushing personal defeat, what was my best course of action? Well, as a self-absorbed and pointlessly self-destructive child of the 60s, I felt the thing to do was to watch a movie that was not on The List. It makes sense if you’re me.

So, if you’re one of the bored people who follow me on Facebook, one evening you got to see this:

Freeman Williams-175338Yes, I fully admit that I am behind the social arc in many ways – that’s why I have things like The List. I’m in a perpetual state of catch-up because I don’t like to rush. Hell, I’m pretty much physically unable to rush. Anyway, there it was, on Netflix Instant, a movie that had been represented to me as the absolute nadir of movies for a couple of years.

So like I said: Inevitable.

I rarely live-Tweet movies, with the exception of Crapfests, where I don’t want moments to slip by and vanish in the increasingly inebriated Lost Weekend of my brain. But there was something about Birdemic that just forces the dismayed broadcasting of your pain, like vomiting to get tainted food out of your system:

Birdemic1Oh, yes, I was finding out that this was, indeed, a perfect storm of bad movie-making techniques. Flat acting (in the instances it could be called acting at all), pauses in the dialogue that you could drive several delivery trucks stuck in first gear through, and that very special horror, the blossoming of ambient sound before and after a line, bespeaking no ADR or even laying down an ambient bed to make each line of dialogue sound like it might have been recorded on the same day.

Birdemic 2Gavin R. R. Smith tells me that there is a very obvious Getty Images watermark on the news “footage”. I’m going to take his word for it, cuz damned if I’m going back to check it out.

Birdemic 3I assumed the awkwardly choreographed CGI birds were a hint of things to come – either that or this was a story from an alien world where physics do not work the same as ours. That interpretation is, in fact, still a possibility.

The dolly comment could come from several different scenes, but this one is particular was prompted when it is announced that Generic Software Company has been bought by Oracle for ONE BEELION DOLLARS and there is a series of shots of various people being cued to look excited while the camera dollies past their table. I think these people work for Generic. I don’t know, they’ve never been introduced and I’m too busy wondering what the director is trying to say by dollying past a six foot long table over and over again.

Birdemic 4a1) There’s no band, only a singer; 2) Our heroes are the only people in the bar 3) I’m still watching this 4) …

Finally after almost an hour of relationship-building, intermittent blurbs about global warming jammed into the narrative and saying “And… scene!” while actors wait for the camera to be turned off after they run out of lines, we finally come to the birdy apocalypse.

Birdemic 4bYeah, yeah, yeah, *in* flight. My brain was attempting to claw its way out the back of my head. If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid Birdemic – eagles can hover effortlessly by flapping their wings  once a second, and they do this in formation and unison.

So our heroes fall in with another pair of campers who are, fortunately, traveling around in a van with enough guns and ammunition to take on the pesky birds. Or maybe the guns are just magic, because I never see anybody reload.

Birdemic 5As Birdemic progresses, the M*E*S*S*A*G*E* portions get more and more preachy and obvious. They’re the opposite of subtle. Really, all global change denialists had to say over the last two years was “What, did you see that in Birdemic, or something?” to shut down all debate.

Writing dialogue for four characters is hard (six, actually, but two rescued children never get to say anything) so the picture kills off the two gun-running campers. The second one, who buys it while trying to rescue three idiots from a double-decker bus, does so by falling prey to a Birdemic attack that has never been seen before and will never be seen again in the remainder of the movie: he and his idiot rescuees are doused by either bird puke, or bile, or poop or some goddamn thing that burns them to death or makes them die of embarrassment. Anyway, our hero drives off, leaving the assault rifle behind, and I really doubt the ammo is compatible with the pistol hero is packing.

I haven’t even mentioned the hero shooting the pistol and playing the recoil a second after the animated muzzle flash and sound effect. I’m not that mean.

Birdemic 6Otherwise the hero would know that the proper response to hundred-dollar gallons of gas is to pull a gun on the price-gouging bad actor and pay the posted amount. But, although he already has a gun in his hand, he simply hands over his credit card. Ray Milland would have bitch slapped him.

Birdemic 7Yeah, occasionally you’ll witness one of the birds divebomb something and explode on impact. Why? Global warming, that’s why. Our hero has multiple opportunities to scavenge more guns and gasoline but passes them up, so I’m more than a little miffed with him when he runs out of gas and has to catch a fish with dead camper gear. The two kids he’s rescued start whining about wanting Happy Meals, but – you guessed it – he’s run out of bullets and can’t shoot the ungrateful little louts. The birds fly in for one last swoop, but decide that since he doesn’t have bullets anymore, he’s no fun and fly off. In an end credit sequence that lasts forever.

Best comment of the night goes to @MovieMike:

Birdemic 8

Oh, and atheists? Stop arguing. Here is your proof that there is no God:

Birdemic 9

6 Comments

  1. I was disappointed by this one. I was promised “So-Bad-It’s-Good” but mostly I thought this was just “So-Bad-It’s-Bad”. Yeah, it had its moments, but I don’t know. Maybe I didn’t have the right crowd watching it with me.

    • I didn’t have anyone with me, and you’re right: it’s so bad that it’s bad, period. That exerts a sort of fascination over me, as I am absolutely stunned that something like this can get a distribution deal… and a sequel! We live in a world where bad decisions are rewarded.

  2. I love that you referenced Panic in the Year Zero! Not just a Ray Milland flick, but one of the better ones!

    I got a copy of Birdemic, but my Bluray player refuses to acknowledge it. It just keeps telling me to put in a disk, and I’m all like “Dude! I just gave you a disk!” and the bluray player’s like “No. I assure you that you did not.”…

    So after reading this, I’m pretty sure that I did not put a disk in after all.

    • Your player was lookin’ out for you, maaaaaaan

    • Between the two of you, you just convinced me to put Panic In Year Zero! back on my “to see” list. I saw it in college, but it didn’t provide the non-stop comedy riot I expected from a movie where Ray Milland and Frankie Avalon face the apocalypse. Perhaps I used the wrong standard to judge it.

      • Yeah, it’s actually a pretty good little movie that doesn’t deserve derision.


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