No doubt about it: There has never been a better time to make a very, very bad movie.
People like Brad Pitt reportedly hold heckling parties over screenings of the inept psychodrama The Room. The hilariously execrable 1990 film Troll 2 (there was no Troll 1) tours the midnight cinema circuit to sold-out crowds of irony fans (and even inspired a film festival doc called Worst Best Movie). Meanwhile, the old-school bad-cineastes cling to Plan 9 from Outer Space and Robot Monster as the icons of awful.
To the pantheon, we must now add the most recent, serious candidate for the title of worst movie of all time: James Nguyen’s Birdemic: Shock and Terror. Nguyen is a Vietnamese refugee and a Silicon Valley software salesman by day, who bought a camera, and without benefit of any sort of training, decided to film a tribute to Hitchcock’s The Birds in his spare time on a budget of $10,000.
Nguyen is touchingly innocent of anything having to do with film, including sound (it cuts in and out constantly, and at the beach it sounds like a hurricane); continuity (there are numerous jump cuts in mid-sentence — seriously!); and camera framing (so many scenes are shot with the camera tilted, you feel like you’re going to fall off your chair).
And then there’s the acting, uniformly delivered with the flatness of someone who’s taken a handful of anti-psychotic medication. The male lead, Alan Bagh (bless him), insists on reading Nguyen’s script exactly as written, with the Asian accent intact. (Small talk on a date: “Software development was boring for me. I was too much of salesman and not enough engineer.”) The script abounds with oddly phrased lines. A waitress at a coffee shop says, “Here’s the menu. I’ll be right back with you.”
Bagh plays Rod, a doofus software salesman who meets Nathalie, a girl from his high school who’s now a Victoria’s Secret model. Since they both talk in inflectionless broken sentences, they’re obviously meant for each other and begin a’courtin’ amid background newscasts about global warming, stranded polar bears and heatwaves.
At the 40 minute-mark, we see a dead seagull. However, it is only after Rod and Nathalie consummate their relationship that we see Birdemic’s main attraction — utterly hilarious representations of angry eagles that hover like helicopters in front of their prey, as the humans’ faces develop lipstick welts.
Oh yeah, some of the eagles apparently explode on impact. Maybe it was something they ate.
On the run from the exploding eagles, Rod and Nathalie meet Ramsay and Becky (Adam Sessa and Catherine Batcha), who, fortuitously, have a mini-van and a cache of weapons (Ramsay’s an ex-Marine, or something — or he might just be a proud American).
So there’s plenty of shooting, although Nguyen keeps reusing the same shot of the same bird getting hit. They also pick up a couple of kids along the way, whose only line — “I’m hungry!” — is delivered as unconvincingly as the rest of the movie.
Unless Rocky Horror-type group dynamics take over, I don’t see a theatre as the best place to watch Birdemic: Shock and Terror. This epic will play best on video, in your home, with a roomful of sarcastic friends.
(This film is rated NR)
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