Back in 2009, a little independent film called Birdemic: Shock and Terror hit the Sundance Film Festival. Well, not exactly. It didn’t make it in to the festival itself, but that didn’t stop writer/director/sole-financier James Nguyen from driving into Park City, Utah in a van covered in fake bloody birds and renting out a theater himself. Audiences were shocked, terrorized, and couldn’t believe what they saw. Soon after that, word of mouth spread and the film was embraced as a cult classic, shown throughout the country in midnight screenings.
Where to go from there?
A sequel, of course!
Birdemic 2: The Resurrection began its worldwide tour at select screenings this April, complete with appearances by the cast, producer, and Nguyen himself. I was lucky enough to attend the screening in New York City and even share a couple drinks with and get some insight into the “Master of Romantic Thrillers™.” I am here to report my findings on the follow-up to the little romantic-thriller-with-an-environmental-message movie that could.
Birdemic 2 picks up not too long after we last left our heroes: sudden-software-millionaire/solar-panel enthusiast Rod (Alan Bagh) and his Victoria Secret cover model girlfriend Nathalie (Whitney Moore). They’ve since moved from the standing on the beach watching the murderous eagles and vultures fly away after the doves convinced the birds to give humans another chance at living a greener and more peaceful existence.
I think that’s what happened anyway.
The action shifts to Hollywood this time around where we meet some new pretty people. Bill (Thomas Favaloro) is a director trying to make his big comeback with a film called Sunset Dreams. Since Rod is now a successful entrepreneur with money to spare, he agrees to finance Bill’s film. But wherever will Bill find his female lead?
As luck would have it, there’s a young, struggling actress just waiting for her big break named Gloria (Chelsea Turnbo) working at the same diner where he’s meeting with Rod! Bill and Gloria hit it off right away and everything seems to going perfectly. What could possibly disrupt all this happiness?
Oh, those pesky birds again. Man’s disregard for nature has upset them yet again and they’re even angrier this time.
The first question/concern I’m sure most fans of the first movie had when this sequel was announced was “is it self-aware or sincere?” My best answer to that would be: both.
Look, there’s no way, given the success and notoriety of the first movie, that that the follow-up could replicate that level of earnestness. This is due to more hands being involved in the making of this one as opposed to the 100% singular imagining and follow-through of Birdemic: Shock and Terror. All the elements present in the first—the camerawork, the editing, the sound-“mixing”, the special effects—are here once again, though maybe not-so-much by accident this time given the producers and larger budget involved. But this was a good call, as it would have been a mistake to turn Birdemic 2 into a glossy,
Hollywood-ized Sy-Fy channelized re-do of the original. It would have lost its charm and heart.
Its heart, of course, is James Nguyen, and after meeting and speaking with him myself, I can assure you, this is another honest vision without a hint of irony on his end. The producers smartly let him run with it and it shows. (Producer Jeff Gross said “I didn’t want to produce any more movies that I didn’t want to see, but I had to see Birdemic 2.”)
So as I stated above, it’s both meta and earnest at the same time, as contradictory as that sounds. It’s really the only possible way this movie could have worked.
The cast definitely falls into the “meta” side of the equation, with everyone having fun and playing into the spectacle that is Birdemic. I have to single out Whitney Moore here as she was, for me, the best part of this movie. Keep your eyes on her (it’s not hard to, she’s gorgeous); her ad-libbed reactions are priceless and perfectly timed. You’ll see what I mean early in the movie when Rod jokes about how wasted he recently got at one of Bill’s premiere parties. Or when she starts cheesing as they run from the birds. It’s fantastic. I could totally see her breaking out into mainstream comedies.
Likewise Alan Bagh gives us more of that Rod we all love, and this time he’s got some sweet karate moves that would make Mr. Miyagi proud.
Franchise (oh, yes, I said franchise, stay tuned) newcomers Thomas Favaloro and Chelsea Turnbo fit in to the mix nicely. Favaloro delivers a walking scene that simultaneously rivals both the opening driving scene of the first Birdemic and Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.
Nearly all the characters that didn’t die in the first movie make cameos in the second. At the screening I attended, each was met with sitcom-style applause from the audience. I suggest doing this whether you watch the movie in a theater or at home with friends. Or at home by yourself.
But with a group of friends is the best.
The sequel follows the tried and true formula of the original. The first half is devoted to the “character development” and romance of the two leads and then the latter spirals into squawking madness once the birds show up (again post-coitus, which I’m beginning to think is the cause of the attacks.) There’s also a whole lot of driving, this time in an RV, as the characters aimlessly travel the streets of Los Angeles fleeing from the birds while everyone in the background, now with blurred-out faces and license plates, goes about unaffected. There’s also more clapping.
Birdemic 2 is subtitled The Resurrection for a reason. In addition to those dastardly eagles and vultures, this time there are also zombies. The reason for this is why the hell not? And also, global warming.
Also new, gratuitous nudity!! And caveman flashbacks! It’s all very bizarre, but somehow fits in.
Three words: Giant. Jumbo. Jellyfish. That’s all I’m gonna say. Oh wait, one more word: ambulance. I…I…you really just need to see it to understand.
One of the highlights of the first movie was the “Hanging Out With My Family” dance sequence. Who could forget the vocal stylings of Damien Carter and Rod and Nathalie’s sick robot moves? Good news! Damien’s back to perform his latest hit, “Gonna Be a Star.” The. Entire. Thing. The song isn’t as catchy/awesome as “Hanging Out”, but the dancing more than makes up for it. Everybody hits the dance floor, including Nathalie’s mom, and the choreography is a thing of beauty (again, watch Whitney). My only complaint is that Rod and Bill didn’t bust out the Kid N’ Play dance or the Milli Vanilli chest bump.
For you kids that don’t know what I’m referring to.
The song fades out at the end even though it’s supposed to be a live performance, which is usually a pet peeve of mine in movies, but in this case it’s appropriate, because Birdemic.
The ending is similar to the first movie in that, you don’t realize it’s the ending at first. And then, two minutes later, you’re still wondering. And then the credits roll.
But this leaves things open for Birdemic 3: Sea Eagles set in New York City. Uh huh, there will be a third.
Also in the works, and this is straight from James Nguyen’s mouth, a Birdemic MUSICAL! He described for me, in great detail, the idea for the “Hanging Out” number and all I can say is, get ready Broadway and get ready Tony Awards.
For fans of the first movie, I highly recommend Birdemic 2: The Resurrection. It manages to both self-knowingly reference everything we loved about the original, while still maintaining a sense of genuineness. It’s a hell of a lot of fun. And if you can’t make it to a screening, you can get it right here, right now: https://chill.com/james_nguyen/birdemic2. What the hell are you waiting for?
Take a Drink: every time a person’s face or license plate is blurred out
Take a Drink: every time Bill smirks.
Take a Drink: every time someone examines a victim and declares “s/he’s Dead.”
Take a Drink and Applaud: every time a character from the first movie makes an appearance.
Take a Drink: every time there is a close up of a victim and you can see the actor breathing.
Take a Drink: BOOBS!
Take a Drink: every time the sky turns red.
Take a Drink: every time someone says “global warming”
Pour one out and take a moment of silence: for when we learn why little Susan from the first movie is absent from this one.
Take a Drink: every time someone says “giant jumbo jellyfish.”
Do a Shot: at the ambulance.
Take a Drink: every time a character does during the soda machine scene.
Take a Drink: if you catch the Sunset Boulevard reference.