I hate Birdemic. It feels good to see that written out. It’s not that it is poorly made… Some of my favorite movies are objectively terrible pieces of shit. The biggest crime Birdemic commits is really the only unforgivable sin a movie can commit. Birdemic is boring.
The fact that it is made so poorly is admittedly the only charm this movie has going for it, and like the best bad movies, it was a total accident. Despite what he has tried to claim since Birdemic’s release, this was James Nguyen trying his best. The acting was bad. The direction was bad. The script was bad. The effects were bad. The editing was bad. The sound mix was bad. You get the idea.
While Birdemic may be a cluster fuck of mythical proportions, its sequel, Birdemic 2: The Resurrection, managed to do something that the original, despite its many glaring flaws never managed to do… It pissed me off.
So, why exactly is this movie so offensive? It’s just a stupid movie, right? Well, there are several reasons… do you have a while?
The movie starts with our decoy protagonist, Bill (Thomas Favaloro) literally walking around Hollywood for over 5 minutes. The first Birdemic was notorious for it’s padding. I mean, after all, it started with a similarly lengthy shot of the main character driving around while slow, droning music bored everyone to death. So, if it was in the first one, shouldn’t I expect it in the 2nd one? Well, yes and no. When anyone talks positively about the first Birdemic, one of the things never mentioned is the boring pacing and the blatant padding. The bad effects? sure… delightful. The bad acting? HILARIOUS! But nobody ever walked away from that movie saying, “man, the way the director totally wasted my time by throwing in boring pointless shots ROCKED!” So, when it came time to make the sequel, I can only think of 3 reasons that this obvious padding still exists.
1. James Ngyuen doesn’t know any better, and doesn’t realize he’s doing it
2. James Ngyuen knows he’s putting out total filler, but thinks it’s one of those “wacky” things about the first movie that he is trying to recreate.
3. James Ngyuen knows what he’s doing, and is doing it intentionally to troll the audience.
So tell me… are any of those 3 scenarios ok? I’m leaning towards the 2nd answer here. I think that when James Ngyuen started writing the sequel, he thought that he had to have every single little annoying problem with the script that the original had, because he is completely and utterly clueless about WHY people responded to the first movie. There was filler in the first movie. People liked the first movie. Therefore, people must like having their time wasted, right? So, yeah… in an 89 minute movie, the first 5 minutes are spent with our main character aimlessly walking around. Whatever. Moving on.
Bill arrives at a restaurant, and immediately locks eyes with the waitress. We have (maybe?) a call back to the diner scene from the first movie, with awful sound mix, and awkward edits. It’s possible this was done on purpose. Possible, but not likely. Bill establishes that he is a film director, and he is interested in Gloria the waitress (Chelsea Turnbo) to audition for his independent film called “Sunset Dreams”. Right off the bat, this comes off as skeezy. The guy is clearly flirting with her in the guise of helping her career. A couple things bother me about this. Firstly, this is our PROTAGONIST. Usually creeper film directors are not the main character of a movie. Secondly, I’m troubled about what this says about James Ngyuen. See… James is not a very talented or imaginative guy. He was a software salesman, so in all of his movies, the main character was a software salesman. Now that he is a film director, his main character is a film director. He seems to be using the character of Bill as his personal avatar in this story… An idealistic independent filmmaker who… uses his status as a director to try to get dates? This really comes off as some kind of pervy wish fulfillment for Ngyuen.
Bill meets up with Rod & Nathalie (Alan Bagh & Whitney Moore), the survivors from the first film. He is trying to get Rod to invest in his film. His sales pitch includes a lengthy diatribe about how independent movies are better because the directors have control over their vision. This is where Ngyuen compares himself to Orson Wells and Alfred Hitchcock in a sort of roundabout way. See, here’s the thing about independent films. If the director has a true unique vision, then yes… He could be hampered by making compromises by working in the studio system. But if you’re a moron putting clip art birds into a poorly written script, maybe final cut isn’t something you should really be proud of. Also, just because a movie is independent doesn’t mean it’s good. This is another thing that bothers me. Since we’ve already established that I believe that the character of Bill is an avatar for James Ngyuen, This is basically James Ngyuen giving his opinions on how Hollywood works. James Ngyuen. The Birdemic guy. Rod agrees to fund the movie, and Bill agrees to give Nathalie an audition, as she is apparently sick of being a world famous lingere model (this subplot from the first movie is NOT mentioned at all in the sequel). I guess this scene serves its purpose for establishing the 4 primary characters, as well as giving an update on the 2 returning characters from the first movie. Fine.
We’re about 15 minutes into the movie, BTW…
So more stuff happens. Rod and Bill meet with investors who question “Where are the topless chicks?” when reading his script. Bill explains that it’s not that kind of movie. Remember this. I’ll be bringing it up later. Anyway, they agree to invest in the movie, and we have a call back to the famous boardroom scene from the first movie, where everyone is clapping awkwardly for like 7 or 8 hours. Also, there is a scene where Bill runs in to Gloria, who is on her way to catch a bus out of town because she’s sick of the whole acting thing. Even though she just booked an audition for the lead in a movie. That seems kind of stupid. Bill bribes her into staying at least long enough to audition for his movie, and she agrees.
Gloria ends up getting the part, and agrees on a “business” lunch with Bill to discuss the details. She even ends up questioning his motives when he asks her. He clearly states that it’s “business”. They meet up for lunch, and talk for a while, and at one point, Gloria actually says the line, “what can I ever do to repay you?”. No. Just fucking no. First of all, you are painting one of these characters as a creepy sex pervert who is using his position of power to prey on young girls. And the other character is being painted as either a complete idiot, or a total ho-bag for offering sex in exchange for career advancement. These are our main characters… In a stupid movie with bad CGI birds. It comes off as really creepy and out of place for a movie of this tone. I’m honestly surprised it didn’t jump cut directly to the two characters fucking. It was sort of set up like a bad Red Shoes Diaries episode.
Instead, Bill and Gloria meet up with Rod and Nathalie, and the go on a double date. Bill insists that he and Gloria are just friends with a professional relationship. Rod and Nathalie are with the little piece of shit asshole kid from the first movie who they have apparently adopted. There was a little girl in the first movie as well, but it is explained that she died from the fish Rod cooked her in its last few scenes. It’s stated very matter of factly, too. Just a throwaway line about how one of our main characters accidentally killed a child. Yep. Also, They see the old crazy bird doctor from the first movie for a pointless cameo. There are a lot of these.
They end up walking around on the beach, where a random woman is attacked by a bad CGI effect, and the phrase, “giant jumbo jellyfish” is said like 30 times. They save the woman, and she is carted off in a bad CGI ambulence. It is never mentioned again. There is no reason for it being in the movie at all. It seems to only exist because they wanted to cram more cheap effects in, because people REALLY liked that about the first movie, right? Then, they all go to a restaraunt, where they meet up with Nat’s mom, because she was in the first movie, and dance to the sounds of the “Hangin’ Out With My Family” guy because he was in the first movie, too. Rod and Bill do a painfully caucasian Kid n Play style dance routine, and everyone is happy.
Then Bill and Gloria screw.
So far this is pretty much beat for beat identical to the first movie. In keeping with this, HERE is where the birds finally show up. 40 minutes in. It starts raining blood, and pre-historic eagles emerge from the La Brea tar pits, and start wrecking shit up.
Meanwhile on the movie set, shooting is underway on “Sunset Dreams”, and the birds show up. Nathalie runs over to a wardrobe rack and grabs a coat hanger, because they had coat hangers in the first movie, guys. Remember that? It’s a meme. Suddenly, everyone has guns, and they shoot all the birds until they fly away.
Then, we see filming going on in another set somewhere, where 3 women get topless. This is wrong. I’m not a prude or anything, but in the first movie, it’s pretty PG. There are sex scenes where the woman is wearing a bathing suit. But this has titties. I can’t figure out why. If they made a sequel of Troll 2, and somewhere in that sequel, Joshua walked in to a room full of naked porn actresses, it would seem extremely out of place and in poor taste considering the tone of the movie, and expectations set by the previous film, right? But there are tits in the Birdemic sequel. I think James Ngyuen figured out he could ogle some bewbs if he wrote them in the script. Remember when I told you to keep in mind that bit about the investors asking about topless chicks? This could be viewed as a call back to that scene, with tits being shoe horned into this movie, except that scene had Ngyuen’s proxy character say that his movies didn’t have to have nudity, and also spouted the importance of working outside the studio system to preserve your vision. So the tits were Ngyuen’s idea.
Then, there are bird attacks for a while. They are pretty boring, so it’s really not too interesting to talk about. For all the attention the shitty bird effects get in these movies, they are easilly the least interesting part of them to talk about. Yep. They are shitty bird effects, aaaaand… that’s pretty much all there is to say. The novelty is lost in about 10 seconds.
As the main characters run around, they come across other survivors of the attacks, one of which is an Asian screenwriter who’s character name I am admittedly too lazy to look up. He starts talking about how he loves the movie Jaws, and how he should write a movie about birds attacking. Everyone agrees it’s a good idea. So they are talking in universe about the pre-production of a Birdemic movie in the sequel to Birdemic. Is that clever? I don’t even know anymore.
They meet up with the creepy tree hugger dude from the first movie, because he was in the first movie, and EVERYTHING from the first movie has to be in this one, too. Next.
They drive for a bit, and decide to take a shortcut through a cemetary. It starts raining blood again, and then fucking zombies start rising from the graves. Now, this is obviously just incredibly stupid in its own right, but let’s think about this for a minute. It’s been established that in this universe, global warming led to bird flu virus, which turned the birds into murderous bastards, but only to the ones harming the environment. Now, are these zombies also trying to push a hamfisted environmental agenda? WHY ARE THERE ZOMBIES?
They get away from the zombies and end up somehow cornered by a swarm of birds near a hotel swimming pool. The birds kill the Asian dude, and then they fly away. The movie stops with no further resolution for any of the characters that we’d been with for the previous hour and twenty minutes. I guess you could theorize that the Asian guy represented the voice of Ngyeun as the writer, and when his throat was cut, his voice was silenced, leaving nothing left in the movie. I don’t give anyone involved with this movie that much credit. I think it’s more like “Hey! the first one didn’t really have an ending, and people liked that, so people must like it when movies just randomly end!”
So, thankfully it’s over.
This film is troubling to me. I am a huge fan of bad movies. It’s kind of my thing. But I have noticed lately that more and more movies set out to be shitty to try for that all important internet buzz. Look at the SyFy movies like Sharknado. It is designed to be bad so you will tell all your friends that you can’t believe how bad it is. Something about that is very cynical. I would much rather watch a horrible filmmaker set out to do his best and fail miserably than somebody set out to make a pile of shit and succeed. There are exceptions to this rule, though. Movies like Drew Bolduc’s The Taint and the Astron 6 masterpiece Manborg set out to make what some would consider to be “bad” movies. But there was nothing exploitative about them. They used their limits in budget and made a stylistic choice on how to present the story. It wasn’t just “Let’s get a b-list actor from the 90’s and shoot a piece of shit over the weekend because people will watch it anyway, regardless of how bad it is.”
That, coupled with the extremely out of place sexual overtones, and the film director character using his set like a backroom casting couch, make this a really unpleasant film.
You see, when Birdemic became part of the zeitgeist, the parties involved were quick to try to recreate the magic. People like the bad effects and bad acting? Awesome. That just means the makers don’t have to try hard. They can put forth as little effort as possible intentionally trying to make a film as shitty as the original, and people will LOVE it! They’ll post clips on YouTube and write blogs saying how dumb it is. And this is why this movie is so profane. For all its warts, Birdemic at least came from a creative place. Birdemic 2 is nothing more than a soulless attempt to cash in on the viral notoriety the first film managed to stumble in to.
-Johnny Zontal (@johnnyzontal )