Edward D. Wood, Jr. has returned to earth in the body of James Nguyen, the “visionary” director-writer of Birdemic….argh! The reputedly entertaining, so-awful-it’s-strangely-watchable horror film has been written about by N.Y. Times reporter Dave Itzkoff, and will play midnight shows this weekend at Manhattan’s IFC Center.
The appeal of the movies that are so bad they transcend their awfulness and become occasions for howling laughter among semi-hipsters has always eluded me. I’ve never actually watched Plan Nine From Outer Space, although I have seen Egah!. If you ask me these films are basically about allowing people to feel smugly superior. “Boy, is this guy clueless or what?,” audiences may be saying. “We’re so much hipper and sharper it’s almost not funny..and yet it is!”
My favorite flick in this realm is Woody Allen‘s What’s Up Tiger Lily?, although that was a different bird — a ridiculous-Japanese-film-within-a-film made by a director who was in on the joke.
“The 43 year-old Nguyen will be the first to tell you that it is far from a perfect film,” Itzkoff writes. “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, has this particular one found favor with audiences?
“‘It’s something unexpected,’ Mr. Nguyen said. ‘Maybe it’s meant to be like that.’
“Evan Husney, who now works for the independent distributor Severin Films, was also at Sundance in 2009, where he spotted Mr. Nguyen driving a beat-up sport utility vehicle decorated with a prop eagle and fake blood, and blaring bird noises from its stereo.
“‘On the side of his car,’ Mr. Husney said, ‘Nguyen had spelled the name of his own movie wrong. He had spelled it ‘Bidemic,’ without the R.'”
In other words, Nguyen is quite possibly a garden-variety bozo who may actually be less gifted (or certainly a slower study) that the legendary Ed Wood. God help us all.