Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Clare Carey, Lance Guest, Jonathan Trent, Sarah Butler, Rebekah Cochan
Directed by Leigh Scott
When Leigh Scott first informed me that the Sci-Fi Channel had hired him to direct Flu Bird Horror (or as it will be known very shortly on DVD: Flu Birds) he described it as The Birds meets Cabin Fever. Then the rewritten script arrived. Just having a group of teens in the woods when birds go on the attack infected with the dreaded avian flu apparently didn’t have a good enough hook to it for the Sci-Fi Channel. Now juvenile delinquents trapped in the woods by bird monsters that look like a cross between a vulture and a pterodactyl that also happen to be infected with a mutated strain of bird flu that causes symptoms more akin to the flesh eating virus… Make mine Sci-Fi!
Before anyone cackles or scoffs, the scenario presented here still struck me as being more plausible than the one portrayed in that apocalyptic Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America movie ABC aired two years ago; the one that was so tacky it had a counter at the bottom of the screen that popped up periodically to let viewers know how many countless millions had already fallen victim to the avian flu.
That film also didn’t have Rodan babies flying around eating people, a real crowd pleaser in my book. The threat of a contagious flu virus that acts more like super leprosy is practically relegated to the secondary threat, a sentiment I agree with because after years of hearing how bird flu is going to kill us all eventually I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a better chance of being pecked to death by monster birds first.
Those zombie buzzards are the true stars of Flu Bird Horror – both ghastly and goofy all at the same time even as they gorily devour victims. Scott wisely mixes computer effects with practical effects for a more convincing combination even if those practical bird head puppets that brought to mind Gappa from Monster from the Prehistoric Planet are sometimes downright comical in appearance. Still better to be a bit silly than boring.
Our primary beastly bird bait are members of a “Teens at Risk” group consisting of assorted juvenile delinquents – everything from hookers to hackers to white rappers – all perfectly suited for a local stage production of Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning. I don’t think it would be inappropriate to call them a motley collection of dumbasses. There’s not a single teen in this bunch that’s likeable – not even the ones that are supposed to be likeable. One of them is more than a little borderline sociopathic and in the end he’s given a big moment that’s supposed to redeem him somewhat. I didn’t want this guy redeemed; I wanted to see him get reamed, preferably by the beaks of diseased winged creatures.
Also, by the third act, judging by actress Rebekah Cochan’s tank top, she was suffering from the most serious case of boob sweat I’ve ever seen. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.
FYI – these “teens” are teens of the “90210” persuasion; all but one is supposed to be under the age of 18 and that alleged 18-year old actually looked younger than most of the others. On the plus side, I can’t complain about the acting. I can complain about the dialogue, but I can’t complain about the actors themselves.
Only minutes removed from the opening credits and the teens are already on the run; their counselor becomes bird food and some of them are already wounded and infected. They’ll take refuge in a series of cabins and forts and what not trying to stave off mutant avian expiration while still thinning their herd a bit of their own doing.
Meanwhile, Lance Guest… Remember him from Jaws 3-D and The Last Starfighter? Now he looks like he should be playing Jason Lee’s brother on “My Name is Earl”. Guest happens upon another mutant bird victim still alive on the side of the road. I somehow missed exactly what his job title was. Not that his official job description ultimately matters much.
What matters is that he takes the diseased man to the nearby hospital where the local doctor lady (Clare Carey of the twice cancelled “Jericho”) with whom he has a past. She deduces the improbable mutant strain of ultra bird ebola or whatever the hell it has become.
The whole virus aspect makes little sense. They can call it bird flu until they’re blue in the face but it’s not. There’s also no continuity as to how fast victims succumb to it. I’d complain about such matters accept doing so would be a moot point since the screenplay never bothers to explain much of anything about the origins of the mutant birds and their mutant virus. Pretty much everything wrong with the film can be traced back to the nonsensical script.
The two of them will leave the hospital behind in favor of trying to rescue the teens in the woods once the big bad US government arrives to quarantine the hell out of the place. The government agent in charge of dealing with this potential outbreak appeared to be on loan from the KGB. He’s so callous he should have had a button on that read “I (heart) Acceptable Casualties”.
The rest of the film pretty much plays out how you’d expect from a film like this to play out.
Yet somehow, almost miraculously, Flu Bird Horror remains fairly watchable and I honestly don’t know how Scott and company pulled it off all things considered. This movie really should have been not just bad, but painfully so. I still can’t call it a good movie, but I have to say the combination of silly monsters on the attack, swift pacing that kept things from getting boring, and a conceptual train wreck quality kept me watching. Though I can’t wholeheartedly recommend the film, I will say it’s still more entertaining than a slew of recent Sci-Fi Channel original movies of late I could name.
2 1/2 out of 5