Worst Road Trip Movies: Birdemic Review
It’s likely that we’ve all had that experience where we’ve sat through the entirety of a film, left the theater, and hours later realized that the filmmaker managed to very discretely slide an important message into their movie. Perhaps it’s through some kind of subtle symbolism or by surreptitiously making an entire feature that is at its core an allegory for something much deeper, but it’s something that is nonetheless hiding beneath the veneer and waiting to be discovered by the most analytical filmgoers. Invariably, it’s something all but invisible to the naked eye, and it sneaks up on you when you least expect it.
Hitchcock was the master of this effect, coining the phrase “fridge brilliance” to describe that singular cinematic experience whose true meaning only finally dawns on you while you’re pulling milk out of the refrigerator for a midnight snack.
Fitting, then, that we segue from Hitchcock into the film that I want to take a look at today for The News Wheel’s road trip movie series. While it does its best to pay homage to Hitchcock’s The Birds, James Nguyen’s 2008 film Birdemic: Shock and Terror is about the furthest thing from a Hitchcockian masterpiece as one could hope to get.
There is no hidden message here. For roughly one-and-a-half hours of your short, short life, Birdemic attempts to marry the horrors of nature turning against mankind with a message that suggests we deserve everything we get. There’s nothing approaching subtlety, cleverness, or art in the execution. Birdemic slams its message across the screen with all the delicacy of Hulk smashing Loki into a marble floor.
Imagine every heavy-handed environmental message that you can think of. Dumb the dialogue down to about a fifth grade level and have it escape from the mouths of robots attempting their best approximation of how they think human beings act.
Then paste in a whole shit-ton of .gifs of birds hovering menacingly around the screen and occasionally diving into things and exploding on contact.
After taking in a viewing of Birdemic, the only thing you are liable to do when standing in front of a refrigerator at 12am is place your head in the freezer and slam the door repeatedly on your neck until you are dead.
But damn if it isn’t good for a whole bunch of laughs.
The Plot (And a Bunch of Commentary)
A Man. A Man and His Mustang.
In his outward attempt to make a film that pays reverence to The Birds, director James Nguyen inadvertently begins his film by instead emulating a film that Birdemic would eventually join in all future conversations pertaining to the worst films ever made, Manos: The Hands of Fate. Among other things, Manos’ legacy of awfulness includes a dialogue-sparse nine-minute driving sequence to open the film, and Birdemic tips its cap appropriately with a four-minute driving sequence that is no less excruciating.
This is how we are introduced to our Mustang-driving main character, Rod.
THRILL AS HE LEISURELY DRIVES A BADASS BLUE MUSTANG AT SPEEDS NO FASTER THAN 15 MILES BELOW THE SPEED LIMIT!
MARVEL AS HE TRIES TO HIT HIS MARK SO THAT THE DIRECTOR CAN LAZILY PAN HIS CAMERA ACROSS THE ROAD FOR ANOTHER A+ SHOT!
GASP AS HE HOLDS UP TRAFFIC TO SUCH A DEGREE THAT EVEN THE TOW TRUCK BEHIND HIM STARTS GETTING PISSED OFF!
It’s not that surprising that Nguyen would want to get as much camera time as possible for the Mustang when one figures out that the director likely blew a pretty big chunk of the film’s already shoe-string budget to rent it for the purposes of the film. Well then, you must be thinking, surely the Mustang is a vital part of the plot, yes?
No. Not at all. It does, however, provide the foundation for one of the film’s more ridiculous proclamations, which we will get too soon enough.
So after we spend four minutes reading the credits as they crawl across the Mustang’s windshield and listening to the same thirty-second music loop, we arrive at something like a plot. Rod—played with dead-eyed indolence by Alan Bagh, who may actually just be a bunch of hunks of meet glued together around a polo shirt—is going for a bite to eat at The Main Street Grill. You see, Rod likes to eat food, because he is a normal adult human male. He’s relatable! You like food, don’t you?
At the diner, we quickly establish Birdemic’s theme of never shooting two people having a conversation in the same frame. This wouldn’t be anywhere near as noticeable with something even approaching competent sound design, but you have no choice to acknowledge each and every cut when the audio always drops out between shots.
Then there’s the matter of the dialogue.
This is, verbatim, the first human interaction you see in the film:
This does not portend good things for the next 80+ minutes.
Rod—who looks like a bargain-basement Carson Palmer and whose acting prowess shows all the effectiveness of Palmer’s ACL after Kimo Von Oelhoffen fell into it—spots a beautiful young woman named Nathalie (Whitney Moore) eating on the other side of the restaurant. Yes, that’s how Nathalie is spelled.
Despite Rod in no way resembling a serial killer who would dress another person up like an anime character before cutting them into tiny pieces and cooking them in a crock pot, he refuses to take the traditional approach of simply walking over to our heroine and striking up a conversation.
No, being the well-adjusted social animal that Rod is, he waits for Nathalie to finish her meal and walk out of the restaurant before he leers back at her ass like the chivalrous gentleman that he is.
He then follows her out onto the street, stalking her like a somehow more expressionless version of Michael Myers until he strikes up the worst conversation ever.
Naturally, he starts the whole fiasco with a monotone, “I don’t mean to bother you.” (He totally does mean to bother you.) It is discovered that they went to high school together, which explains why Rod’s follow-up question is then, “So, are you from here?”
It turns out that Nathalie is a fashion model and she’s on her way to an audition. This doesn’t stop Rod Voorhees from once again running up to Nathalie and the superfluous “h” in her name to swap cards so that they can keep in touch. Do you smell that? It’s romance on the air, mingling with the noxious fumes of a cinematic turd of legendary proportions.
In a bit of foreshadowing, Rod watches the news while he absently gnaws on his donut and learns that a bunch of dead crows and seagulls have turned up in San Jose. This is foreshadowing in the sense that it involves birds, which will come into play later on in the film, but not in the sense that we ever figure out why several hundred birds just appear to have died out of nowhere. Don’t worry: this isn’t the first lapse in logic we’ll be running into.
We also learn that polar bears are dying in droves because the ice caps are melting (see, we actually get a reason this time, and it’s GLOBAL WARMING!) and they are having difficulty “finding food, such as seals.”
Rod heads off to work, and Nguyen makes sure that the camera lingers on every unbearable second of Rod driving that beautiful blue Mustang with all the confidence of a seal-starved polar bear. Somewhere in his Mustang poster-covered editing room lair beneath an ancient black mountain, James Nguyen is smiling insidiously.
Rod slooooooooowly pulls into a Chevron, fills up his ‘Stang, pulls out of the gas station, sits in moderate traffic, drives on a busy expressway, pulls into the parking lot of a huge building, exits his vehicle, walks into the front doors, walks through the lobby…yeah, you get the picture.
When he’s actually working, Rod is arguably the worst salesman on the planet. He closes a deal with a customer by offering them a 50% discount and celebrates what we later find out to be a $1 million sale. Which means whatever he was selling, he knocked $1 million off the asking price. I used to work at a pizza place where I would get in trouble if I gave a customer a couple of bucks off of their meal without them first presenting a coupon. James Nguyen doesn’t know how to people.
Next: Rod Makes His Move, and We Inch Toward an Actual Birdemic
Romance is in the Air (Also, for One Fleeting Moment, Birds)
We then cut to Nathalie’s “audition for a modeling job,” which is actually Nathalie “wearing a bunch of weird outfits in a one-hour photo next to a liquor store and smack dab in the middle of a strip mall.”
Turns out Nathalie is a client of Dream Models, which appears to be a big time agency that operates out of someone’s living room. She gets a call after her high-energy photo shoot wherein she learns that she has been selected to be the next cover girl for Victoria’s Secret. You know, for the cover of Victoria’s Secret: the Magazine.
At the tail-end of his successful day, Rod breaks every rule we ever learned in Swingers and calls Nathalie…I don’t know, is this the same day? Time is a flat circle in Birdemic.
Rod and Nathalie share the details of their exciting days and set up a date for later on in the film, but not before Rod manages to slip in another obliviously douchey line about how great he thinks Nathalie will look in lingerie.
Cut to Rod and his friend—ostensibly Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off but utterly lacking in any semblance of charisma—playing just an absolutely atrocious game of pickup basketball. They comment on how hot it is (BECAUSE GLOBAL WARMING) before moving on to talking about Rod’s big date.
What we learn about Rod’s friend: he likes sex. He’s your typical sex-loving bro. He does this a lot so that you know he really, really likes sex.
Don’t worry, he’ll be killed by birds before you know it. Oh, yeah. Spoilers. Whatever.
Rod watches a couple of news stories about a wildfire and a hybrid/electric celebrity charity race before listening to a scheduled sales pitch about solar panels and ultimately deciding, yes, he wants to solar power his home after the salesman knocks off $1,000 (because he’s clearly the better salesman). Is any of this necessary? Not at all.
So the date commences at the Vietnamese restaurant (which is, as can be clearly seen, actually a Thai place), and we get a long, loving look at an elaborate wall mural for no reason other than the fact it’s supposedly Nguyen’s aunt’s restaurant and she was really, really proud of the painting.
Small talks shifts from why Rod decided to go into sales (“I like sales”) to why Nathalie enjoys modeling (“I love it, it’s fun”). Nathalie asks why Rod isn’t making a pass at her because that’s totally a thing that real people say. Rod likes the 49ers and says he’s a “part times Eagles fan.” Nathalie likes to go dancing with friends. This scene is like watching two terrible peoples’ Match.com profiles gain sentience and grapple with the overwhelming charge that is life before ultimately deciding that it’s just not worth the hassle.
Nathalie mentions a mysterious Alex, and Rod starts grabbing wildly at the air, demanding that she show him the picture in her wallet. This isn’t at all creepy, but Nathalie must be colorblind when it comes to red flags. This makes sense considering that the film’s writer also suffers from tone deafness. Come to find out the Alex is her cat, and that if Nathalie could afford it, she would own ten felines. Yikes. What am I doing with my life?
With the info dump out of the way, we finally—FINALLY—get our first look at the titular menace. The source of our film’s epidemic. Our…Birdemic…if you will.
Date ends with a bit of dancing in front of an obvious green screen so that we firmly establish that either of these actors would be right at home in one of those late night dating line infomercials about hot local singles.
Rod gets shut down at Nathalie’s front door after trying to invite himself in. Bad form, Rodbot.
Why Are We Doing This To Ourselves?
Nathalie goes and visits her mother, to whom she tells a bunch of bold-faced lies about Rod having human traits such as a sense of humor or a personality. She also talks about her burgeoning modeling career, at which point her mother tells her that it’s not a bad idea to have a “secure financial husband” to fall back on. I’m not quite sure what a financial husband is (presumably someone who gets married to your money), but I should hope that they’re steady should you ever need to stand on one, whatever they are. Nathalie’s mother seems so tickled by everything that she gives her daughter and the camera a big thumbs up until she thinks the cut is over, at which point she stops.
The camera rolls on.
Cut to: Rod’s friend and his girlfriend having hanky-panky time to the tune of a .midi rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” I don’t know about you, but this is the order in which I rank sexy songs to which I enjoy “getting down”:
1. The roaring silence of the infinite void of space
2. Spooky sound effects
3. The poetry of Maya Angelou
1,380,394. “Imagine” by John Lennon
45,238,211. A terrible Muzak version of “Imagine” by John Lennon
836,292,103,452. The laughable, tawdry bulls**t machine Robin Thicke calls a career
So why, exactly, are two people getting ready to make love (if you can call inattentively rubbing one another whilst wearing swimwear foreplay) to the dulcet strains of Lennon’s ode to a world where people don’t kill each other for every little ridiculous reason they can dream up? Because this scene—as well as every scene featuring the character Mai—is a shill for the website ImaginePeace.com, which is owned by Yoko Ono. Perhaps Yoko was something of an angel investor in the film, which may just be her clever angle at making people forget her role in breaking up The Beatles by plastering her name all over a terrible film about murderous birds.
Hey, isn’t that Yoko Ono?
Oh, is she the lady that runs that website that shows up a bunch in that godawful bird movie?
Sure, but she’s John Lennon’s former wife. People say she broke up…
Hey man, you didn’t see this thing. It was…you know what? I don’t want to talk about it.
Anyway, because it’s a small world after all (and because James Nguyen is a man of small talents and imagination), Nathalie’s friend Mai happens to be dating Rod’s friend Randy (aka bad-at-basketball Cameron), so they’re quick to set up a double date.
Next Page: Rod Talks About His Mustang and Utters The Worst Line Ever Written
Business! Stock Options! Fake Car Specs!
BUT FIRST! We find out that Rod and Randy’s employer, MCT Software, has been acquired by Oracle Corporation FOR A BILLION DOLLARS! The several minutes that follow this announcement are particularly hilarious given the audio problems, as it winds up sounding like everyone in the board room is at once excited about hearing that they’ve earned their stock options, but then they become bored of it for a handful of seconds before getting really excited and applauding again.
This guy is the best part of this scene.
Randy’s messing around with an RC Ferrari, which serves as a clever precursor to the conversation wherein he tells Rod that he plans to use his newfound wealth to buy a real Ferrari Spider F430. Randy proceeds to ask what Rod intends to do with his money, and he is baffled that he isn’t planning on using any of his money to also buy a Ferrari.
After all, Randy believes that the best way to impress a woman is with an expensive sports car:
“When are you going to grow up, man? Chicks love cars. If you want to get into their pants, you’d better have a nice, hot Ferrari.”
Wow. Did you think that load of misogynistic tripe was the worst line in this scene? Well, think again, sucker. Rod’s comeback is like the Fat Man and Little Boy of terrible lines. If there’s a Valhalla for awful writing, then this next line has its own throne room made entirely out of gold.
“She’s my hot Ferrari.”
OH, but it gets better!
“Besides, I love my Mustang…”
Well, this makes sense. If the idea behind buying a new car is to obtain sex appeal (and in Randy’s case, he clearly needs all the help a Ferrari could provide), then Rod’s doing all right with the Mustang. After all, it’s an American classic, and it’s quite sexy in its own right.
“…which is a plug-in hybrid. It gets 100mpg.”
Shut. Up. Shut the f*** up and get out of here right now.
You could start in on everything that’s wrong with this from so many different angles. So we’re just going to apply a bit of the ol’ willing suspension of disbelief. Sure, James Nguyen. In your alternate reality version of Half Moon Bay, there is a plug-in hybrid Mustang that gets 100 miles to the gallon. But if we’re a mere half-hour into your movie and your audience is already scoffing indignantly at made up stuff before you’ve even seen a single bird attack, then you’re in a whole mess of trouble.
Rod offers a throwaway line about starting up his own green tech company before segueing into a conversation about their impending double date. Remember this, because this is literally the only set up that’s offered for a later scene wherein Rod pitches his green tech startup and immediately gets greenlit to the tune of $10 million dollars.
An Inconvenient Double Date
Our band of merry little idiots emerge from the movie theater, and Rod can barely contain his excitement for the action-packed summer blockbuster they just witnessed. I’m talking, of course, about An Inconvenient Truth. So powerful was the message of Internet inventor Al Gore that even Randy has resolved to get himself a car that’s environmentally friendly. Since the LaFerrari hadn’t yet been built in 2008, we’ll just assume that Randy went out and got himself one of those hydrogen fuel cell Ferrari 458s that only exist in the Nguyenverse.
Don’t worry, though: Randy blows up any potential goodwill earned by coming to terms with our impact on the environment by stating that he and Mai (wearing her IMAGINEPEACE.COM t-shirt) have to get back to “sensual work.” Yeah, okay, Randy. We’ll see you later when you’ve had your eyes pecked out by crows.
Rod and Nathalie spend the day at the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival, where they tend to just kind of walk around and point at things out of frame. Then it’s off for a stroll on the beach, where we can presume that Rod and Nathalie are saying things of some kind of importance to one another, although we can’t confirm it since the wind is blowing directly into the microphone at all times.
What we can confirm: DISEASED BIRD SIGHTING.
Oh, things are getting thick now.
Next: But Before We Get to the Birdemic Itself, We Enjoy the Sweet Sounds of Damien Carter
This Is Maybe the Only Part You Need to Read (But Read the Rest Anyway Because I Worked Really Hard on This You Guys)
And then we arrive at a pub. This is yet another unnecessary scene to establish that NATHALIE AND ROD ARE TOTALLY DATING BECAUSE THEY ARE REAL HUMAN BEINGS. But there is something here that is very important. So important, in fact, that if you had to watch anything from Birdemic, this scene would be it.
I’ve gone ahead and attached a YouTube video of the scene below. Naturally, the audio is completely out of sync with the picture, but it really wouldn’t be something related to Birdemic if it wasn’t completely incapable of doing even the most basic things correctly.
I proudly present: “Hanging Out With My Family” by Damien Carter
For those who want the full thing uncut and unrestrained:
We need to stop for a moment and take a special look at this particular gem and the lyrics thereof.
So, as we’ve established in the chorus, there’s a family gathering afoot. There’s a barbecue going, and we learn that “Uncle Phil is scoring.”
Stop. Are we talking about Fresh Prince Uncle Phil? And what does the term “scoring” mean here? Is he playing skee ball? Is he putting in a few hours of overtime at sensual work? Is he getting weed from a dealer? The world will never know, but we can effectively take Phil out of the family mix because he’s otherwise busy with whatever he’s doing.
Then we discover that the “young ladies are doing their makeup/and the brothers can’t wait to hook up.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this a family gathering? Could it therefore be assumed that the young ladies who are in the process of applying makeup to their faces are in actuality the sisters of the aforementioned brothers? This thing took a quick turn into X-Files territory, that’s for sure.
At the precise moment that Carter unleashes this incestuous line, Rod can be seen laughing in what might be the first and only display of genuine emotion in the film. While it could be a result of the incongruous lyrics, it might also be because Nathalie is attempting a rendition of the robot that is terrible even by uncoordinated white people standards.
And just so we’re clear, “hook up” means exactly what you think it would here. How do we know? Because the next line informs us that Grandma gets up and starts dancing and prancing “to make sure that the fellas don’t try any glancing.” That’s right. At a family gathering, the withered old crone of the clan is forced to do some kind of wicked dance to effectively shut off the overactive libidos of males looking to “hook up” with their sisters.
This is where the song stops in the film, but the full version yields more horrors. “Little Susan” gets up and starts dancing, and the fellas all “jump up to see how she’s moving.” Apparently, the erectile dysfunction hex that Grandma put on the males in the family didn’t work, because they have now focused their disgusting appetites on “Little Susan.”
At some point, Carter calls out that “it’s almost like heaven,” and adds that everyone is “enjoying one another.” Just…wow. Someone call the authorities.
And that’s “Hanging Out With My Family.” We now return you to your regularly scheduled review of a terrible movie.
Next: The Birdemic Cometh (After More Illogical Date Nonsense)
By this point in Birdemic, we’ve established that Rod lives in a pretty luxurious-looking house and was recently granted millionaire status thanks to the BILLION DOLLAR buyout of his former employer.
We’ve also established that Nathalie’s mom lives in a pretty nice house with a very modern looking kitchen, which suggests that she also makes pretty good money.
The scene where Rod drops Nathalie off at her apartment suggests that she lives in a modest apartment, which just so happens to be sitting inexplicably right along a city sidewalk and directly next to a floral shop. This is excusable to a degree: modeling is a pretty hit-or-miss profession, although we’d assume the money that comes from being Victoria Secret’s new cover girl might afford you a place slightly better than a hole in the wall next to a flower shop.
Yet, for some reason, Rod and Nathalie go to what appears to be a Motel Six (MOAR LIKE MOTEL SEX AMIRITE) for their post-date lovemaking. Because reasons.
Of course, this could be Nguyen offering commentary about economic disparity and the strange economy of relationships between the wealthy and the lower-middle class. If it’s the intention, it could be said that the decision to go to a shady hotel to make love as opposed to Rod’s $300,000 home is an indictment of his character being too afraid to let an unwashed laborer into his gilded mansion. It could also be an expression of Nathalie’s embarrassment at her economic standing and the feelings of inadequacy she feels when she compares her paltry domicile to the more opulent dwellings of both her mother and Rod.
On the other hand, it could be Nguyen establishing that Rod wants Nathalie to like him for the human being that he is, and not for his newfound wealth. This would explain his hesitance to upgrade from his 100mpg rocket-powered Mustang to a brand new Ferrari, though it wouldn’t quite work given how frequently Rod discusses his success at work, and…
You know what? No. We’re not doing this. I refuse to grant this dogshit film a shred of undeserved credibility. Nathalie and Rod go to a hotel because James Nguyen’s only understanding of human interaction is what he learned from talking to NPCs in old Sierra adventure games, and that’s that.
Nathalie emerges from a bathroom in her underwear just long enough that Rod can undress her with his eyes (and, for that matter, the movement of his entire head) while she stands next to a TV screen with a single paused frame of Tippi Hedren looking into a bird cage (GET IT? DO YOU GET IT?).
Rod and Nathalie do their thing, and we fade to black, which is the sole instance so far of Nguyen understanding the concept of restraint.
Then we get a series of quiet shots that depict serene locales such as a neighborhood, the beach at sunrise, a harbor, an empty intersection, a horse stable, the bar from the night before, and a barn next to a field full of bright orange pumpkins.
Fade to black…
Next: STATUS: BIRDEMIC’D
THE BIRDEMIC FINALLY BEGINS!
Yes, those birds are dive-bombing into buildings and exploding on contact. No, that is not the most ridiculous skill they display during the film. There are birds.gif everywhere, crashing down into buildings and gas pumps and causing explosions.gif and pillarsofsmoke.gif. It’s anarchy.gif. It’s madness.gif.
Back at the love nest (PUN!), a trio of not-so-suicidal eagles…just sort of hover in place outside of the room. Rod, quick thinker that he is, assesses the situation and determines that they will be safe as long they barricade the window with the mattress and box spring. After lazily covering half of the window, they stand back and wait, presumably for hours, in stupid silence. Of course this works, and they are safe…for now.
When the birds have flown the coop (HA!), Nathalie and Rod run to a random hotel room, where they meet Ramsey and Girlfriend Becky.
Ramsey, we come to find out, was once a member of the U.S. Marines. Because James Nguyen loves subtlety, we can pretty well assume this from his camo pants and the plethora of guns he keeps stored in his Ford Aerostar. Though, come to think, that might also just mean that he’s an outspoken Tea Party voter. Thank you. I’ll be here all week.
Girlfriend Becky is a girlfriend. Let’s just leave it there. She’ll be cannon fodder soon enough anyway.
Ramsey determines that if the foursome arms themselves with coat hangers and walks outside in a halfassed Phalanx formation, they should be able to defend themselves from the birds.
This is somewhat correct.
Once in the van, Ramsey produces a semi automatic rifle (good thing Obama hadn’t yet taken all of our guns away in 2008) and begins firing lazily at the birds as they flee their hotel deathtrap. Once they make their way to the freeway (upon which, I should point out, there is no congestion whatsoever and traffic in the opposite direction appears to be moving rather smoothly), they find an abandoned Cadillac DeVille and Chevy Tahoe, both filled with dead people.
Cries from underneath the Chevy leads Rod to a young girl whose mother and grandmother got birdemic’d. For some reason, Ramsey finds a young boy in the truck of the Cadillac (which is being protected by the corpse of what we can assume to be his father, a man who looks an awful lot like some combination of Freddie Mercury and Bennett from Commando). Because in a worst-case scenario involving exploding birds, it’s best procedure to lock your kid in the trunk on the shoulder of the road in the middle of a hot afternoon.
After shooting their way out of danger in abysmal fashion and exchanging poorly-synced canned dialogue in equally abysmal fashion, the group decides to stop at a convenience store for some food. Despite having a bevy of options, they opt for a whole host of plastic-wrapped sandwiches that were probably left alone for the obvious reason that they are plastic-wrapped sandwiches in a convenience store.
It might be a birdemic, but you can’t let your standards drop that far that you begin eating convenience store deli sandwiches. That’s letting the terrorists win. The bird terrorists. Birdorists.
Dr. Jones and Me/Tell Each Other Global Warming Tales
After taking all of the gross sandwiches and dozens of bottles of water, our heroes and their newfound child companions stop off from their trip to have a picnic at the beach. Right out in the open. Underneath a sky that, we should assume, has been to this point filled with murder birds. But they just go on happily munching away at their sandwiches until Rod spots an old guy on the bridge.
Yep. Just an old guy standing out in the open on a bridge during a birdemic is all.
Naturally, Rod and Nathalie walk over to engage in a wholly idiotic conversation. The old man on the bridge, Dr. Jones, reveals that these birds are contaminated with bird flu virus (yeah, that’s a thing). Dr. Has-All-The-Answers can’t explain why these birds are attacking people, but he does divulge the following nugget, which I’ve transcribed below:
Dr. Jones: “I don’t know [why birds are attacking people], but what I do know is global warming’s causing viral diseases such as bird flu, West Nile Virus, and SARS.”
Nathalie: “So what are you saying, that global warming is causing these birds to attack?”
Dr. Jones: “No. I’m a scientist [INAUDIBLE BECAUSE RECORDING AUDIO IN THE WIND IS STUPID] I can’t state any scientific fact without evidence, but there is scientific evidence to show that, because of our burning of fossil fuels and creating greenhouse gases, which is causing global warming, it’s raising the temperature of the seas and species like the krill are dying. So many bird species can’t find food like the [INAUDIBLE SOMETHING SOMETHING KRILLS], they eventually starve and die, wash up on the shore. “
*Nathalie and Rod stare on intently while two people calmly walk along the beach in the background*
Dr. Jones (Continued): “There’s also evidence that global warming’s interrupting the birth, mating, and migration cycles of many species. In fact, in the last few years, 40 species have become extinct because of global warming. However, there is an interesting research that in prehistoric times, birds did attack cavemen. They used to claw at their eyes and skull, either leave them for dead and come back because their injuries were so bad then finally finish off the kill.”
Boy, our Dr. Jones sure does word good, don’t he not?
Turns out he’s an ornithologist who doesn’t fear the birds because he has a gun and a truck and a trailer. No, he’s not afraid of the birds. He knows that mankind is the real enemy, and he proclaims that the “human species needs to quit playing cowboy with nature” and should start acting more like “astronauts and spacemen” who take care of earth as if it was a spaceship. Also, I think my brain started bleeding an hour ago.
Next: Saying Goodbye to Two Beloved Friends, and Making New Acquaintances
Where’s Becky? She’s Taking a Birdemic
We follow that brilliant exchange with the following:
Ramsey: “Where’s Becky?”
Rod: “She’s taking a shit. Natalie’s watching her back.”
Ramsey follows it up (because there’s really no clean way to segue out of that) by saying that he left the Marines because he got tired of all the killing in Iraq. He asks why we can’t just give peace a chance. Are you seeing a pattern yet?
Nathalie fails spectacularly in her role of watching Girlfriend Becky’s back while she defecates in the middle of a field, and she naturally becomes the film’s first casualty. Farewell, Girlfriend Becky. We hardly knew thee.
After a long sequence where Ramsey laments the Eagles’ role in killing Girlfriend Becky (we had a lot riding on Donavan McNabb too, Ramsey) while literally a dozen cars can be seen and heard just driving on by, we’re back on the road to save some people who are trapped on a double-decker bus in front of the same bar from earlier.
Ramsey heroically rescues the folks trapped on the bus, none of whom seem to have any interest in leaving the bus whatsoever, and promptly walks them right to their deaths.
Oh, did I mention that the birds now explode in a torrent of Hi-C acid whenever they’re shot? Because that’s just what they do.
Well, nice try, anyway.
And Now: More Encounters with Stupid Characters!
The group has to stop for gas, which is basically just an excuse for this man to garble his way through a bunch of lines about gas being $100 a gallon because of the birdemic that’s going on outside.
IT’S ALMOST LIKE IT’S COMMENTARY ABOUT MAN’S THIRST FOR OIL THIS MOVIE IS INCREDIBLY DEEP DO YOU SEE THE LAYERS BENEATH IT ALL?
After filling up, the group is almost immediately ripped off by this man:
After he steals the gas canister, he starts backing away from his truck for some reason. Does this mean he’s getting birdemic’d?
Oh yeah. Cowboy hat man got birdemic’d good.
We move on to a creek in a wooded area—because, what else, the group needs more water despite having grabbed 30 gallons of it between stops at the convenience store and gas station—where we are introduced to Woody Harrelson, Tree Detective.
With knock-off Twin Peaks music setting the tempo, The Tree Hugger explains that the group is safe in the forest because the eagles seem to only be interested in attacking people in their cars and filling up at gas stations. The woods, you see, are his home. This is why he’s been dubbed The Tree Hugger.
He, like Dr. Jones, isn’t worried at all about the birds. Instead, Tree Hugger fears dry drought weather and spruce bark beetles.
Just to make sure that absolutely nothing is left to chance, James Nguyen uses Tree Hugger as the vehicle for his ultimate message:
That damn global warming! It’s the cause of dry climate and bark beetles and the death of the trees and forest. I can protect these trees against greedy lumber companies and bad campers who start forest wildfires, but it’s impossible for me to defend them against global warming.
Tree Hugger flees when he hears a mountain lion, and the group flees the forest…which is now on fire for some reason.
Whatever. None of this matters.
Next: It’s Almost Finished, I Swear.
Sweet Jesus, Is This Movie Almost Done?
But we’re in the home stretch(!), and we once again hear those familiar strains of “Imagine” as the group happens upon a vehicle at the side of the road in front of the lighthouse “where Mai lives.” Yes. Mai lives in a lighthouse.
Yep, you guessed it. Mai and Randy have been birdemic’d to death. THAT’LL TEACH YOU TO IMAGINE PEACE DOT COM.
The group finally arrives at another beach, which appears to be their final destination despite the fact that it’s not terribly dissimilar from the first beach they stopped off at. We waste a good lot of time here as Rod catches a fish, Nathalie conjures up seaweed, and the kid play pitch-and-catch at a distance of no further than 4 feet apart.
The ungrateful children refuse the meal that their ersatz parents have worked very hard to prepare (by tossing the entire fish, scales and guts and all, into a pot of boiling water with some seaweed), proclaiming that they want Happy Meals.
They don’t get their Happy Meals, but they do get a healthy dose of EAGLES INCOMING.
They dash back to the van, and the birds just kind of hover around it in circles. One of the eagles attempts to break in through the windshield, but doesn’t think to use either its explosive or corrosive powers in the effort of drawing out the group.
Then they fly away. And that’s the end of the movie.
I’m not kidding. After sitting through nearly an hour and a half of one of the worst films you will ever see, you aren’t even granted the insult of a twist ending or a screamer jump scare after the credits. There’s no waking up from a dream or finding out that the birds were just a part of Rod’s schizophrenia. There’s no deus ex machina, no final saving grace, no last-second hail Mary.
The birds just fly away (well, they hover in the same distant spot on the horizon and occasionally beat their wings). Standing on the beach, Nathalie says, “I wonder why they stopped attacking.” With a collective shrug, they go back to staring at the birds as they disappear in the distance. Trumpets swell. Roll credits.
I need to go be alone for a while before I can do this.
Rod’s Mustang PHEV (Which Isn’t a Real Thing)
Rod’s magic Mustang is a plug-in hybrid that gets a phenomenal 100 miles per gallon. Sound impossible? It is. The actual car is a 2005 Mustang fastback, which actually gets 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway. Well, that’s like almost 100 mpg, right? The Mustang does generate 200+ horsepower, but you wouldn’t know it the way Rod nurses the pedal like he’s got fishbowls in the backseat at all times.
Ramsey’s 1989 Ford Aerostar
One of the reasons Rod was so outraged about the $100/gallon fuel costs was the fact that the Aerostar got a paltry 17 miles per gallon combined with the automatic transmission. On the other hand, this van is great for storing a veritable arsenal of anti-birdemic weaponry, and its windshield is durable enough to withstand the full blow brought on by an eagle plummeting out of the sky.
2001 Chevy Tahoe
The perfect vehicle to hide beneath in the event of a birdemic. Otherwise, it makes for great corpse storage and display.
2000 Cadillac DeVille
Perfect for inexplicably storing children in the trunk (Note: please don’t do that, you idiot).
Other vehicles spotted:
- 1965 Bristol Lodekka FLF6G – the double-decker bus from which Ramsey rescues (and then dooms) three people
- 2004 Honda Civic – Nathalie’s car, which is actually much more efficient than Rod’s Mustang
- 2003 Honda Accord – Mai’s ride (IMAGINEHONDAACCORD.COM)
- 2001 Dodge Dakota – Driven by the ill-fated cowboy-hated gas thief
The $10,000 Question: Should You Watch Birdemic: Shock and Terror?
No. Yes. Maybe. I don’t know. Can you repeat the question? (You’re not the boss of me now.)
Birdemic is absolutely worth your time if you and your friends enjoy taking the piss out of really, really bad movies. I cannot advise any other circumstances under which watching this movie is acceptable. I give it 10 birdemics out of 10.
Masochistic Tendencies? Start at the Beginning!
Want to Read About Movies Not Called Birdemic? Check Out The Rest of Our Road Trip Series
- Kyle JohnsonEditor
Kyle S. Johnson lives in Cincinnati, a city known by many as "the Cincinnati of Southwest Ohio." He enjoys professional wrestling, Halloween, and also other things. He has been writing for a while, and he plans to continue to write well into the future. See more articles by Kyle.