Stars: Jessica Lee Keller, Lindsey Sporrer, Greg Evigan, Leslie Easterbrook, Dillon Cavitt, Evan Miller, Sarah Joy Byington, Heath Allyn, Mark Hanson, Craig Nigh, Sam Stinson, Carlton Caudle | Written by Jake Helgren | Directed by Sean Cain
OK, when you buy a film called Terror Birds you surely know what you getting… A film horror film about a group of people getting terrorised by one or more horrific killer birds. And that’s EXACTLY what you get! However if you’re a horror fan, and one that pays particular attention to cast and crew on DTV titles, you’ll also be expecting something special given that Terror Birds comes from writer Jake Helgren – whose previous films Varsity Blood and Bloody Homecoming were both highly enjoyable modern takes on the classic slasher movie.
Maddy Stern’s father, a fanatical birdwatcher, goes missing during a routine birdwatching excursion, so she and her college pals trek out into the wilderness to find him (luckily he carries a GPS with him at all times(!?!), only to end up in a wealthy scientist’s desolate ranch aviary where they encounter a pair of giant, hungry Titanis (more commonly known as Phorusrhacidae or “Terror Birds”) believed to be extinct for centuries but currently roaming the fields with a new-found hunger for humans.
You know how I said I was expecting something special from this film given its DTV pedigree? I might have been expecting too much. Whereas Helgren’s scripts for the aforementioned movies took inspiration from the classic slashers of the 1980s, it seems the inspiration here was the myriad of Syfy channel creature features that hit DVD each and every week… Which means that, at least for me, Terror Birds was something of a disappointment. That’s not to say there’s nothing to like about Sean Cain’s film – at least it knows it’s a cheap and cheerful creature feature and plays up the ridiculousness of the situation, whilst at the same time walking a fine line between humour and horror.
Featuring a teen cast of relative unknowns, Terror Birds biggest draws [for film fans at least] are actors Leslie Easterbook (Callahan in the Police Academy films) and Greg Evigan. Easterbrook doesn’t last long as her character, Dr. Slater, is bumped off early doors by Greg Evigan’s insane scientist/hunter. Speaking of whom, Evigan, so good in My Two Dads and William Shatner’s TekWar, gets to stretch his villainous muscles here as the big game hunter-come-scientist who will do anything to protect the titular terror birds – even if that means cover up deaths or facilitate them himself. It’s a role that, honestly, is beneath Evigan’s acting chops but one that he seems to relish and his performance is certainly one of the more fun highlights of this film.
Whilst Terror Birds is packed with the same dodgy CGI that plagues all these direct to market creature features it does at least feature some original villains in it’s jurassic-age monsters. Plus what’s not to like about a film whose monsters love to peck people brains out and rip heads off?
Terror Birds is out now on DVD from High Fliers Films.