Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

March 25, 2010

Alfred Hitchcock needn’t worry

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 3:49 pm
NY Times March 25, 2010

A Cheesy Horror Turkey Becomes a High-Flying Cult Hit


If the title of “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” does not immediately tell you what kind of movie it is, its teaser trailer should do the trick.

In panoramic shots, it shows an idyllic Northern California town — city streets, parking lots, a pumpkin farm — over and over again. These scenes continue for more than a minute, until the ambient noise is punctured by menacing screeches. Suddenly the sky is filled with birds: badly animated birds, out of proportion to the dwellings below, that barely flap their wings as they glide by. Occasionally an aggravated fowl breaks away from its clip-art flock, plummeting to the ground and exploding in a similarly unconvincing cloud of smoke.

James Nguyen, the 43-year-old writer and director of “Birdemic,” a would-be thriller about an avian rampage, will be the first to tell you that it is far from a perfect film. But, as he said recently, “if it was perfect, in every angle and the visual effects and everything, maybe it wouldn’t be where it is today.”

Since “Birdemic” was discovered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival — where Mr. Nguyen brought it anyway and showed it in bars after it was rejected by the festival’s selection committee — it has become a cult hit on the midnight movie circuit. Crowds in Austin, Tex., Phoenix and Los Angeles have thrilled to its stilted dialogue, substandard production values and young heroes who defend themselves with coat hangers. (A “Birdemic” national tour is currently booked through the end of May.)

As “Birdemic” arrives in New York for late-night showings at the IFC Center on Friday and Saturday, it has spawned a discussion about why, of all the Z-grade movies that are made each year, this particular one should find favor with audiences. What has made Mr. Nguyen a latter-day anti-genius to rival Edward D. Wood Jr., whose 1959 horror dud “Plan 9 From Outer Space” became legendary for its countless defects?

“It’s something unexpected,” Mr. Nguyen said. “Maybe it’s meant to be like that.”

full article

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