Birdemic (Blu-ray) (2010)

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Released 22-Jun-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-Director James Nguyen
Audio Commentary-Cast Alan Bagh and Whitney Moore
Deleted Scenes-x 2
Featurette-Birdemic Experience Tour Featurette (12:02)
Interviews-Crew-James Nyugen on “Movie Close Up” (27:05)
Trailer-The James Nyugen Story Teaser (1:05)
Trailer-Film trailers x 3
More…-Electronic Press Kit (2:35)
Trailer-Severin Trailers x 5
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 93:28
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By James Nguyen
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Alan Bagh
Whitney Moore
Adam Sessa
Danny Webber
Mona Lisa Moon
Catherine Batcha
Janae Caster
Colton Osborne

Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Andrew Seger


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     When a trailer starts with the statement “From Visionary Writer / Director James Nguyen” for a film which has a rating of 1.8/10 on the IMDb (which is the 8th lowest ranking film on the database) there is a disconnect somewhere. Visionary directors can be misunderstood by audiences so the question is whether Birdemic: Shock and Terror is as bad as the rating suggests. Read on.

     Birdemic: Shock and Terror is two different plots joined at the halfway mark. The first half is a romance. Fashion model Natalie (Whitney Moore) has just been told she will be on the cover of the next Victoria’s Secret catalogue. Whiz-kid IT sales guru Rod (Alan Bagh) has just become a millionaire when the software company he works for is sold to a bigger corporation. Rod sees Natalie in a café, realises that they had been at school together and sets out to court her. They go on chaste dates, a double date with Rod’s best friend Rick (Danny Webber) and his girlfriend Mai (Mona Lisa Moon), who is Natalie’s friend, meet Natalie’s mother and finally, after 45 minutes, end up in a motel room in Half Moon Bay, California. The screen fades to black as they have sex.

     The screen recommences with some peaceful establishing shots of Half Moon Bay before without warning the screen is full of screeching eagles who, sounding like piston-engined fighter bombers, attack the town causing explosions as well as hovering outside Rod and Natalie’s motel room. They barricade themselves inside and when things settle down a bit Natalie and Rod leave their room and meet up with Ramsey (Adam Sessa) who, as an ex-marine, has an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons and his girlfriend Becky (Catherine Batcha) and they all escape in the couple’s van. On the highway they pick up two young kids, Susan and Tony (Janae Caster, Colton Osborne) whose parents have been killed. From then the group face further bird attacks, confront venal humans and meet a couple of serious individuals who explain global warming. Then the birds fly away. The end.

     Birdemic: Shock and Terror is inept filmmaking in pretty much every way. The pacing is excruciatingly slow in the first half of the film which, with lots of sequences of a car just driving around, and long, slow establishing shots, takes over 20 minutes to establish the two leads when it could have been done in 2 minutes. As well, the romance is non-existent, dialogue wooden, the acting stilted and unnatural. The editing is also mangled, with sudden jumps between characters, or between different shots of the same character with obvious variations in brightness, while the sound drops out on numerous occasions. The love scene which ends this section of the film is so pedestrian and chaste your granny would be bored.

     Then the eagles and vultures attack but despite being called Birdemic: Shock and Terror there is no shock, no terror or, indeed, no tension. After the birds have dive bombed the town, causing explosions and numerous casualties, our hero group picnic on tables on an open headland without shelter of any kind while other people frolic on the open beach behind them. The birds when shown are obviously animated and fake while the CGI explosions, not to mention the forest fire, are ludicrously unreal. The film also grinds to a halt with two interposed monologues about global warming, and the acting and dialogue do not improve. Yet this section contains the best sequence in the film where the group rescue some people trapped in a bright red double-decker bus only to be attacked by birds projectile spewing yellow bile which turns to acid and causes death.

     Is Birdemic: Shock and Terror so bad it is good? Just about. This is not a comedy or a satire and there is nothing tongue in cheek about the scripting or the acting; the film is played seriously, earnestly and absolutely straight as a romance and a thriller although I feel that the writer / director has missed at least one cliché by omitting to include a bit with a dog somewhere! Whitney Moore is suitably attractive and has some screen presence but Alan Bagh is dull and, although the first half of the film is painfully slow, the bird attacks are so ludicrous and over the top they are entertaining. The scene of the group fending off attacking eagles with coat hangers is so dumb it is hilarious and the ecological message is timely, if heavy-handed. So while the filmmakers have taken Birdemic: Shock and Terror very seriously, this is a film that should be watched with friends and a few beverages.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Birdemic: Shock and Terror is presented in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The picture is washed out and soft, which becomes apparent when fake eagles are superimposed on the frame. It is however sharp enough to highlight the very unreal CGI explosions and fires. Colours are muted but natural, the red bus being a highlight, blacks can be mottled. Brightness and contrast varies a lot, being obvious when the film cuts to two different angles during a conversation, skin tones are OK. There were small artefacts scattered throughout while a couple of night sequences were very grainy.

     No subtitles are provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo are the audio options.

     I listened to the 5.1 track. It was front oriented but did have sections of loud rear and surround usage, such as bird screams, clapping, the song performance in the bar scene, the score and ocean waves. Gunshots and bird screams where loud and prominent in the mix. Dialogue was sometimes drowned out by the effects, such as the waves, but I doubt anything important was missed. The sub-woofer added some bass to the ocean waves, the song performance, bird screams and the music.

     The audio dropped out on many occasions.

     The music by Andrew Seger was wistful and effective except where the same small section was repeated and repeated, such as during the opening.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary with Director James Nguyen

     Writer / director / producer James Nguyen is very proud of and passionate about his film, which he calls a cult sensation hit. He is, though, an interesting speaker and talks about his influences, including Hitchcock’s The Birds, the name of the Rob character being a wink to Ron Taylor in The Birds, An Inconvenient Truth and Apocalypse Now. He also discusses the cast, the ecological message of the film, technology, the music, his intentions but he also tends to describe what is on screen, there is sadly nothing about the problems of the production and shooting the film, there are silences and the sound quality varies. Whatever one may think of his film, however, this is a reasonable commentary.

Audio Commentary with Stars Alan Bagh and Whitney Moore

     Fan Bobby Hacker, who saw the film at Sundance in 2009, hosts Alan Bagh and Whitney Moore in a funny and candid commentary. They provide anecdotes about the shoot, James Nguyen’s direction and character, shooting without permits, other cast members, why one main character quit, Alan Bagh’s walk, the coat hangers and continuity errors and Whitney Moore being roped in as make-up artist, among other things. There are some very funny moments and this is an entertaining commentary.

Deleted Scenes

     Two scenes:

Birdemic Experience Tour Featurette (12:02)

     Footage of Nguyen, various cast members and enthusiastic audiences at screenings of Birdemic: Shock and Terror across the USA and in the UK.

James Nyugen on “Movie Close Up” (27:05)

     James Nguyen sits down with Bonnie Steiger on local a TV “Movie Close Up” show while Birdemic: Shock and Terror is still in production. This is live TV; so they talk about the influence of Alfred Hitchcock, special effects, his idea about making a romance thriller but mostly they discuss Nguyen’s previous films and there is nothing about the production itself or about making a low budget film. The audio has some issues.

MOVIEHEAD: The James Nyugen Story Teaser (1:05)

     A promotion clip for the James Nguyen story.

Trailers (3:18)

     Trailers:

Electronic Press Kit (2:35)

     As it says.

Severin Trailers

     Gwendoline (1:29), BXM Bandits (0:32), Psychomania (2:50), Screwballs (2:00) and Inglorious B******s (1:48).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our version of Birdemic: Shock and Terror is identical to the US release.

Summary

     Birdemic: Shock and Terror is an inept film, poorly scripted and poorly acted, with ludicrous special effects. Yet, the extras included on this Blu-ray show how relentlessly writer / director James Nguyen promoted himself and Birdemic: Shock and Terror in festivals and events and he seems to have had a level of success, although whether the film really has cult status is still open. In any case Nyugen perceived enough encouragement to make Birdemic 2: The Resurrection in 2013, which is even lower on the IMDb with a rating of 1.7.

     The video is OK, the audio indifferent. The extras are mostly Nyugen promotions but the audio commentaries are fun and worthwhile; indeed, it may be better to watch the film with either commentary! Birdemic: Shock and Terror is not to be taken seriously; it may not be the best worst film ever but it certainly is a contender, and in certain circumstances, can be a lot of fun.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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