There are colossally bad movies, and then there is Birdemic: Shock and Terror. Written, directed, and produced (all badly) by James Nguyen, this movie is one of the more delightful disasters you'll come across in your lifetime. It follows the sweeping, environmental romance between two people who are barely trying to act at all, and then eventually, there are some exploding birds. So, what could possibly make someone volunteer to watch this? Answer: Hilarious live commentary straight from the minds of RiffTrax -- Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, and Michael J. Nelson! RiffTrax Live: Birdemic will come to a theater near you on October 25, and the whole crew was kind enough to answer some questions, including why they have decided to impose this thing upon us all.
So, what made you guys decide to bring Birdemic to the big screen for a live show, or, really, why are you doing this to us?
Michael J. Nelson: Because [leading man] Rod’s sizzling charisma just needed to be seen by more people.
Bill Corbett: We thought the environmental message was very important for our culture today.
Kevin Murphy: People don’t realize that you can buy a plug-in hybrid that gets a hundred miles to the gallon!
Bill: Right, right!
Mike: The real answer is that we find it a delightful bad movie. I mean, it is a real pleasure to watch how, in its particulars, how bad it is. Do you guys agree?
Kevin: Yeah, well in comparison to our last [live] film, Manos: The Hands of Fate, which is rather grim and creepy, but this one is a little more light-hearted and better-exposed.
Mike: It’s dumb and creepy!
I would like to ask you what could have saved Birdemic from itself? What was its fatal flaw, do you think?
Mike: Being made, for one. That is like a riddle, that is like a zen koan...
Kevin: It would have been a better movie if it had not been made.
Bill: Right. There you go.
Mike: He [the filmmaker] actually made an earlier one, what was the title?
Bill: Julie and Jack. It sounded like a French “new wave” film, but it actually was just...
Mike: Yeah, and you’ll see that it’s almost exactly parallel to this one. He just keeps making the same film, and I think he made one after this that’s not available, but that will give you a clue as to what the hell is going on in this guy’s head. It’s an amazing, amazing film.
Bill: It’s very, very funny to me how long it takes before the bird horror emerges in this movie. I mean, the first half of it is all about these minor deals and fortunes in these young people’s lives that has nothing at all to do with the plot. When the bird menace happens, it’s sort of unexplained and incoherent.
Well, there was a scientist.
Mike: The guy with the mask on his face! He was there to explain everything for you, yes. That’s right.
And thank goodness he did, because you’re right, I noticed that the entire first half of the movie is the “prequel” you just described.
Bill: Which I find delightful, that they thought that they needed to get through all that material, about their relationship and their deals and everything, before he could actually start the movie.
Well, backstory is important. Solidify that for half the movie, and then get to the Birdemic.
So, I did a little homework on this movie before watching it, and I found out Tippi Hedren made sort of an indirect cameo. She was apparently in some footage that was in Birdemic.
Mike: Yeah, I don’t know where that is, it’s on some TV somewhere, but I don’t know. She did star in his earlier film, the actual live Tippi Hedren. Kevin and I just saw The Birds, and the birds appear immediately in that one, and Tippi Hedren is actually in the film. Two big difference between the two films.
Kevin: She’s in the film the whole time.
Do you think Hedren’s involvement in Birdemic was a direct middle finger to Alfred Hitchcock, considering how she’s saying how badly he treated her on the set of The Birds, and how they just made an HBO movie about it?
Bill: I think you put a hundred percent more thought into it than anyone’s ever put into that. [Ed. note: Guilty as charged.] “Bird movie, bird movie” is probably the amount of thought that went into it. Let me point out that Alfred Hithcock’s The Birds did not have “Trees Guy.” The environmental tree-hugger guy.Kevin: He’s our favorite.
If there was a drinking game for Birdemic, what are some of the things that should make people take a drink, and what kind of alcohol would be the safest?
Mike: Ooooo. I think that any time that any sum of any number is mentioned, and it ends in a zero, you could drink. He’s always doing deals -- “We built this software company for a billion dollars!” “We just got an investment for a billion dollars!” Apparently only aware of one particular kind of figure.
Kevin: Very round numbers.
Bill: I think any mention of the words “solar panels,” or mumbly derivatives thereof, would be a shot. But that would be a tricky one, because sometimes they’re so mumbly that you might not be able to make out the words.
Kevin: And every time a bird explodes. But that happens so often that you may want to go with light beer.
Mike: Environmentally-friendly liquor, I guess.
Bill: One made from bark beetles.
I though the exploding birds was pretty fascinating, because that, to me, spells an even bigger Birdemic threat, if the birds explode. We’ve never seen that before.
Bill: Yeah, he didn’t really think that one out, I mean are the birds just packed with C-4 naturally? It’s not really a well thought out stretch.
Kevin: It’s also not true, because at one point, the birds also spray a crowd with toxic acid.
Bill: That’s right!
Kevin: Did the birds vomit? Is it toxic acid bird feces? We don’t know what’s going on.
Mike: What they also [did] is [collect the acid] first in boxes and threw it from either side of people, too. So it’s a very sophisticated thing that the birds got going there.
You know, if we found out the birds are from another planet, that would have explained everything.
Kevin: Sounds good to me!
Name one good thing about Birdemic.
Mike: Nathalie. She’s pleasant to look at. Let’s just say that.
Bill: I’ll say Tree-Hugger Guy, because he’s just so delightfully weird that I could never watch that scene without laughing, and it just makes my day.
Kevin: I’ll go with Nathalie.
Bill: She does wear underwear at one point, Nathalie, I did notice that.
Mike: I’m not made of stone. They were made of hemp. Naturally. Recyclable “hemp for her pleasure” panties. [Silence] I’m sorry that I said that word.
Oh no, it’s making me think, is what it’s doing. This is making Birdemic even more thought-provoking than it was before. So, my last question, what is the best way for an unsuspecting audience member to prepare for this event?
Mike: Oooo. You know, I think Birdemic is such a delightful surprise, I just don’t want to give away the shocking ending. I don’t even know what it means, so...
Bill: It’s an amazing ending. Just tell everybody at Boing Boing it’s worth it for that alone.
Mike: Prepare to be amazed! You will believe that a bird can... I don’t know.
Kevin: You will believe a bird can hover.
Bill: I guess my real answer would be, the movie is so fun and silly in its own right, and like Mike said before, it’s kind of a light version of a bad movie. It has a lot of space for us to make our jokes, we had a lot of fun with it. So really what they can look forward to is us telling a lot of funny jokes about the movie as it rolls.
Kevin: It’s a good, light-hearted train wreck.
I think we need that, in this world of heavy-hearted train wrecks. Mike, the last time we spoke, you were discussing the possible possibility of maybe bringing The Room to New York for a live event here. Has any further discussion been taking place on that?
Mike: We’ve sort of, in general, been talking about the live shows finally getting to the east coast, but nothing specific yet. For the time being, Birdemic should do you really well. Birdemic is similar to The Room, except with one major advantage is you don’t have to look at Tommy Wiseau’s grisly backside.
Bill: I mean, you have Tommy Wiseau’s grisly backside on one hand, and Nathalie and her hemp panties on the other.
Mike: I’d go with the latter.
Thanks for the interview, guys! RiffTrax Live: Birdemic will be in theaters on Thursday, October 25 at 8:00 PM EST. Visit Fathom Events to buy tickets and find a theater in your area, as well as RiffTrax for all your silly commentary needs! And don't forget your bark beetle lager for the drinking game. I suggest concealing it with a 100 percent recyclable bag. For the environment! And to avoid a real-life birdemic, of course.
All photos provided by RiffTrax
When she isn't nerding out that the holidays are coming, Jamie is a reader at Monday Night Fan Fiction at Fontana's in Chinatown, NYC (next date: TBA, 7:00 PM). All work is original, written by the readers, so if you have a brilliant fanfic idea stuck in your head, send it via Twitter: @jamielikesthis