It amazes me that “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” (hereafter: “Birdemic”) actually got distributed by a studio. Yes, it was an independent studio, and, yes, the release was extremely limited, but, still, I’m baffled that someone picked it up.
Selling itself as a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” “Birdemic” comes across as a poor college student’s first attempt at filmmaking. That’s because it is; it literally is. If I were the professor of director James Nguyen, I’d give him a big fat fail on the project and make him go back to learning the basics of scriptwriting, making your actors convincing, using audio, and the moment when to cut a freaking scene so it’s not too long.
Thankfully, the guys from “RiffTrax” were able to make this painful experience easy to get through. “RiffTrax Live: Birdemic” played live in theaters nationwide on Thursday, Oct. 25. Like “Manos” and several of their other events, “Birdemic” was held at The Belcourt Theatre in Nashville, TN.
“Birdemic” opens with the longest, most boring driving scene ever filmed. “There was less driving in the movie ‘Drive,’” one of the “RiffTrax” guys shouted. It’s true; Nguyen has no clue when it comes to saying “cut” and transitioning to the next scene in post-production. Did this guy even take a filmmaking class, or did he just decide to gather his friends for a “fun” project? Also, for the opening credits, it’s “supporting cast,” not “supporting casts.”
Nguyen also captures every single section of the area he’s filming and put it in the movie. Certain moments have four or five establishing shots before going into the scene. You only need one, dude – one establishing shot.
None of the unknown actors can read from a script, even if there were cue cards held in front of them. The main actor tries to say “solar panels,” but it sounds like “sol panels,” for which the RiffTrax guys constantly make fun of him. The actors also fumble their lines and keep the camera rolling. “Oh, I screwed up… KEEP ROLLING!” shout the “RiffTrax” guys when this happens.
In Hitchcock’s film, there is this long buildup before showing the birds attacking. Hitchcock allows the characters to develop and gives us some nice scenery of Bodega Bay. It worked for Hitchcock, because he knew how to keep an audience intrigued before terrifying them.
In “Birdemic,” there’s nothing nice about it. The movie is a boring mess before the birds show up. When they finally show up, it’s a laughingstock. CGI fowl hovering over the city is supposed to be scary, but it’s not. Attacking people includes them hovering over the person while he or she acts out a death scene.
“I thought you said you would make this look good in post,” shouts one of the RiffTrax guys.
If it wasn’t for the RiffTrax guys, I don’t think I would be able to get through this movie. They provided another hilarious riff of a really awful film. The audience in the theater, including myself, could not stop laughing.
Special thanks to Fathom Events for providing passes to this event.
David also writes as the Chico Events Examiner and the National Boardwalk Empire Examiner.
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