Have you ever watched a film… let’s say Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 avian-terror based suspense masterpiece The Birds for instance…and say to yourself “Shit, I could have made that.”?
Here’s a cautionary tale on why that may be fucking dumb as shit.
Severin’s (via their Intervision label) new box-set; Wings Of Disaster: The Birdemic Trilogy deals with the output of writer/director James Nguyen who definitely thought “Shit, I could have made that.” or some variation thereof… and he did, three times over… but of course his level of success varies slightly than Hitchcock…
Kicking off the set is 2010’s Birdemic: Shock and Terror which is indeed about killer birds, but equally it’s about driving around town as a sweeping score you may find in a heartfelt ’80s drama serenades your eerie earholes.
It’s also about how not to mic your film as the sound quality is all over the map… oh and what is a light meter used for again?
Anyway, our telemarketer, overly-environmentally conscious hero Rod (Alan Bagh) and his aspiring model gal-pal Nathalie (Satanic Panic‘s Whitney Moore) have a whirlwind romance a-going but terror is in the air… literally as California’s large CG bird plug-in effects have gone plumb loco due to mankind’s constant buggering of Mother Nature 45 minutes in to the picture.
Will our duo survive a world gone small-scale mad under the horror of beak and talon?
This is the type of film that just seems like a work, but the earnestness and enthusiasm of it’s creator is so visible on screen that it just has to be sincere (think Tommy Wiseau’s The Room) and not a put-on.
Everything from the stilted-acting, to the technical incompetence, to the heart on display make Birdemic a charming picture at it’s core even if it’s loaded with meandering and large segments of just “fucking around”.
The included commentary tracks bear this out as both director Nguyen and stars Bagh and Moore take us through the film’s production over two informative and entertaining commentary tracks. Bagh and Moore’s track is the better of the two as they provide a nest of highly amusing anecdotes in a fun and laid-back manner that goes a long way to explain a lot of why the film is the way it is.
Also included are two cut scenes, footage from the film’s theatrical tour, a segment featuring Nguyen on a local movie-based talk show, a trio of trailers, a trailer for a documentary about Nguyen, and the film’s electronic press kit.
Next in the set comes 2013’s Birdemic 2: The Resurrection:
Bagh and Moore are back as our heroes Rod and Nathalie, and this time they are down to have a long talk about indie films with their showbiz pal Bill (Thomas Favaloro) who spends the entirety of the opening credits walking to the restaurant where said chit-chat happens.
Next we follow the romance between Bill and waitress/aspiring actress Gloria (Chelsea Turnbo) which hits the exact same notes as the previous pictures romantic goings-on between Rod and Nathalie but with 100% more ’80s style action flick inspirational rock numbers, CG jelly-fish attacks, and green screen driving.
The sound still sucks sometimes as well as wind blows gently across the productions microphones like an iron fist in a velvet glove.
After a museum visit, dancing, drinks, and lazing on the beach, blood-red toxic rain makes the local birds go crazy (again nearly 45 minutes in)… but this time we get zombies and cavemen (???!)
Basically this is the first film re-made with more crazy and a few tits, and my comments about the previous film hold true here as well, though this is a slightly more polished production… and I mean very slightly…
Again the special features go a long way in explaining the madness at hand. Things kick-off with three audio commentaries featuring Nguyen, producer Jeff Most, Bagh, & Favaloro, and cinematographer Bobby Hacker & Moore respectively. Out of the three, Hacker and Moore provide the most uproarious, anecdote-packed conversation.
Also included are Cast and crew interviews, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and the film’s trailer.
Finally comes 2022’s Birdemic – Sea Eagle:
After a lot of driving, our hero Evan (Ryan Lord) is bombarded with environmentalism (honestly, this installment ups the level of that to the stratosphere) as he sets out to date comely blonde Kim (Julia Culbert).
The global warming barrage continues, as does the hot real estate action that all the kids crave these days, as well as series staples clothed sex, and entire songs played while people dance poorly (trust me, I didn’t mention them before, but they are in every film contained here) before the eponymous sea eagles make the scene at nearly an hour into this hour and twenty-three minute film.
Will our heroes save the day and learn even more global warming factoids?
Well, this picture surely contains the technical gaffs we’ve come to love with absolutely bonkers lighting that makes the picture often too dark and over-lit (often in the same scene), and the color correction ensures most images contain burning orange, turquoise blue, and shit-brown for surreal 1970’s effect.
Add in some weird action, limited bird-action, and waaaaay too much preaching and you certainly have a film.
Once again the special features contain three commentary tracks with the now standard chat with Nguyen leading the way, but as before the real leader is the cast commentary featuring Lord, Culbert, and Bagh as they absolutely savagely roast the film to hilarious effect.
As for the third commentary it features actor/Jeopardy champ and his neighbor Tony watching the film for the first time and offering their thoughts on all manner of things.
Also included are an intro to the film from Nguyen, highlights from the film’s festival run, and the film’s trailer.
Bottom line, the Birdemic films are not the most competent fright flicks out there, but they are representative of Nguyen’s commitment to the material (and his rather dubious filmmaking notions), and hey, here I (and other folks) am thirteen years later still talking about the first film and that is impressive on it’s own.
If you’ve never seen these films, this box-set is the way to go for those actor commentaries alone, but there is plenty of entertainment value to be had across the board… maybe just not as Nguyen intended…