Okay movie friends, if you’ve clicked on the link to read this review, you’ve probably already experienced the original Birdemic: Shock and Terror, directed by master of the Romantic Thriller James Nguyen. Or it could be you’re just intrigued by the word “birdemic” – and who wouldn’t be? This also means it’s likely you already know if you’re going to enjoy the sequel, and there’s not much I can do to change your mind. Most people who’ve seen Birdemic have strong feelings about it. Love it or hate it, the one emotion I haven’t encountered is ambivalence.
JennyD and I (joined by some bird loving, hanger-carrying friends) saw Birdemic 2: The Resurrection at the closing of the Cinedelphia Film Festival (http://www.cinedelphiafilmfestival.com) at PhilaMoca, late at night with a bunch of other people who were there to enjoy the shit out of this movie. On top of that, we were joined by Director James Nguyen, Producer Jeff Ross, and star Alan Bagh (“Rod”)! How much better could a premiere get?
Not much better, as it happens. I can’t recall the last time I laughed and enjoyed myself so much at an event like this. It seemed like everyone was having a great time – they laughed, they cheered, they freakin’ sang along to the original movie’s now classic song “Just Hanging Out”! I love a sing-along at a movie! Clearly, almost every single person there knew what they were in for, and were loving it. And with a movie like Birdemic 2, that’s exactly the way you need to go into it.
In the film, we continue to follow the exploits of Birdemic‘s brilliant computer engineer Rod (Alan Bagh) and his girlfriend Nathalie (Whitney Moore, clearly very much in on the joke this time around), along with Rod’s adopted son (!), a boy he rescued in the first film and in this film only makes an appearance in one scene (hey, children are expensive to hire in the movie world). There was a sister in the original too, but since the film didn’t have the budget for two kid actors, she was conveniently dealt with offscreen in a way that is far too awesome for me to reveal here.
Joining our intrepid couple is Bill (Thomas Favaloro), an independent film director struggling to make it in Hollywood despite resistance from the big studio system (those jerks!). And given how much screen time is devoted to him walking around town, it’s clear the poor guy needs some big studio cash. Lend this man some money for a cab, people! Bill just wants to make the movies he wants to make, like his current project, Sunset Dreams, but he needs financing since the studios just don’t understand him. Fortuitously, his good buddy Rod just happens to have a MILLION DOLLARS from his software sales! Executive producer/director high five! (I should note the high fives in both films are epic). Now Bill can make his movie, but where shall he ever find a lead actress with the right amount of beauty and talent?
Cue waitress/aspiring actress Gloria (Chelsea Turnbo), whom Bill meets for about 5 seconds before he decides not only would she be perfect in the lead role, she’s perfect for him as well. And with some of the worst pickup lines – but the best eyebrow work – in cinematic history, Bill gets his leading lady.
All this blossoming romance signals it’s about time for some bird chaos! Instead of a detailed explanation, how about I offer you this: Millions of eagles and vultures are attacking Hollywood!!! It’s raining blood!!! Who will survive and what will be left of them?!?!?!
I could discuss the subplots about global warming and blood somehow resurrecting creatures from the La Brea tar pits, but why do that? Cue attacks! Cue hangers! Cue exploding birds! Bagh and company combat the winged threat with weapons including not just the famous hangers of the past but guns, umbrellas, tripods and (most wonderfully) totally badass karate moves! And during all this madness Rod and Nathalie never thought to mention that THEY’D ALREADY BEEN THROUGH THIS BEFORE!!! The. Exact. Same. Thing. Eventually they think to bring up this minor tidbit of information – about 15 minutes before the end of film. You know, when it’s important.
I’m leaving out all sorts of hilarious moments – zombies, cavemen (don’t ask, just accept) and another rockin’ dance scene complete with a new song from Damien Carter. But it’s no fun to hear about that stuff from me, so I’ll leave some secrets for when you watch.
After the movie’s rather abrupt ending, we were treated to a Q&A with James Nguyen, Alan Bagh and Jeff Ross. I was initially worried that people would be jerks and ask crappy, jerkish and awkward questions. I get it, the movie’s not a cinematic masterpiece, but in my opinion being obnoxious to the director is just bad form. However, with few exceptions, everyone was there in the spirit of fun, and the questions reflected that.
The surprise for me was James Nguyen. I wasn’t sure prior to this screening if he thinks he’s making great movies or if he’s just very clever and knows exactly what he’s doing. The jury’s still out on that one. Before the film started he asked everyone how many drinks we’d all had, and later compared the Birdemic viewing experience to Rocky Horror, which suggests he’s in on the joke, but the way he answered some of the questions implies otherwise. So who knows? And does it really matter?
Here’s what I do know – the guy seems incredibly sincere, and he knows about movies. Whether or not he knows how to make them is not in question at this time. He loves Hitchcock, which is no secret, but he also knows his Hitchcock. These are two different things. He can discuss, in detail, camera angles, lighting design, film history and theory. He cites a reference from a David Lynch film that he put into his movie, and damned if I didn’t see it. I saw it in a scene of questionable quality, but I saw it nonetheless. He has a wealth of knowledge; however, his ability to apply said knowledge to his own films is perhaps not his greatest strength.
Either way, he loves what he’s doing and he’s thrilled that people are enjoying themselves watching his movie. He was very up front about his budgetary restraints and some of the adjustments he had to make. He also brought up what I thought was a very good point – that if the movie was perfect, we probably wouldn’t be out at PhilaMoca late at night laughing and cheering. He’s probably right. Sincerity doesn’t make your movie better, but it does deserve some respect.
Jeff Ross and Alan Bagh didn’t have nearly as much to say, but we were treated to not one, but TWO karate kicks from Bagh! Those kicks in the movie weren’t just fancy camera angles, friends! They were REAL!
And that was our adventure with Birdemic 2: The Resurrection! If you are going to watch this movie (and hell, why not?), I suggest you get a group of (open-minded) friends together and enjoy the ride! Looking forward to BIRDEMIC 3! ~SF.