How the cult of Birdemic took flight

Why did bad acting and even worse special effects lead to sold out screenings?


Like Tommy Wiseau before him, director James Nguyen has it all. His film has sold out screenings around the world, he is mobbed by adoring fans and his cinematic creation generates internet buzz that Hollywood hasn’t seen since Snakes On A Plane.

However like Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, Nguyen’s Birdemic: Shock and Terror is adored due to its sheer awfulness. Hailed as the worst film ever made, its sheer ineptitude is why it has become such a cult success.

BBC News: Is Birdemic the worst film ever? 

Written, financed and directed by Nguyen, his film borrows heavily from Hitchcock’s The Birds to tell of a sudden attack by lethal flocks of eagles and vultures.

However whereas Hitchcock’s film featured suspense and terror, Birdemic features shoddy camera work, wooden acting and some of the worst visual effects ever seen on screen. It makes you think the budget was a lot less than the reported $10,000.

James Nguyen

“[Birdemic] fails to deliver the terror but more than compensates with shock, ie the sounds of jaws falling to the floor in disbelief,” wrote a reviewer in Variety magazine. Jaws also hit the floor as audiences wept in hysterics.

When the film was rejected from Sundance, Nguyen went on a one-man publicity drive, showing the movie in bars around town. He also covered an SUV in fake blood and bird droppings and drove it around as a marketing device.

As the curious began to see the film, its reputation grew thanks to social media, blogging and YouTube. As word of mouth grew, Birdemic became ‘the’ must-see movie for its sheer dreadfulness.

The film has sold out around the US and was picked up for international distribution by Severin Films, whose CEO described it as “unlike any other film we have seen.”

Truer words have never been said.

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