Flu Birds (Flu Bird Horror)
One thing that science fiction does extremely well is play upon the current fear of society. Back in the fifties a lot of Sci-Fi was thinly disguised stories about the communist menace. That was also a time of radiation being responsible for all sorts of strange and deadly creatures. That gave way to a more recent trend in recombinant DNA as the source of monsters and other mutations that would threaten the world. Now a growing free among many people is a new pandemic that would be able to sweep the countries of the world killing much of the human population. This fear is not completely ungrounded. You just have to look at the history books to see that infectious disease has claimed more lives than most wars. While we have never come across mutants or extra terrestrial aliens intent on killing us we have seen bubonic plague, virulent flues and diseases such as smallpox and polio devastating entire nations. This is only exasperated by the wide spread media outlets such as 24 hour cable news and the internet. A small out break of a new disease will be a news item around the world before a few hours have gone by. One of the latest of the Sci-Fi channels Saturday night original movies pays on this fear of a new infectious agent and combines it with a good old fashion monster flick for ‘Flu Birds’. This film by Leigh Scott is also known as ‘Flu Bird Horror’. This is a typical worse case scenario movie that takes a current fear and runs wild with it. It frequently goes off beyond reality but overall it is entertaining enough if you can get into the Sci-Fi Saturday night specials. Since almost every network has completely forsaken this night in prime time at least it is more original than the reruns of reality shows or forensic series. This is the type of flick we used to watch as kids in an afternoon matinee. Sure it is corny and not up to the standards set by higher budgeted Sci-Fi movies it has a certain camp value to it and is good for a beer and pizza night with friends.
Leigh Scott has a pretty good resume that concentrates on horror, fantasy and science fiction. Like many of the directors used in these Sci-Fi channel flicks he has a style that presents the story much like the classic ‘B’ flicks that were popular on late night television and drive-thru theaters all around the country. You have to understand the place a movie like this has in the field of cinema. It is not intended to compete with the big budget movies. It is just intended to provide some light entertainment and Scott’s flick here does manage that. In the golden age of Sci-Fi flicks we gladly watched mutant with visible zippers up the back of their costumes and wires connected to the flying saucers. These movies depended on the audience wanting to be entertained and willing to suspend belief to achieve that result. If you approach this movie the same way you will enjoy it a lot more. Just forget the flaws and inconsistency and just have a little bit of fun.
Most movies of this type take a semi rational fear and expand the scope and thereby danger to almost ridiculous limits. Bird flu is a concern for most country’s public health departments. The real life bird flu, actually Avian influenza, has killed millions of poultry stock around the world. To date it has claimed a couple of hundred human lives, mostly in Asia. The biggest concern in the scientific community is that it will mutate and be better equipped to cross over to the human population. In this movie the strain in question has become something closer too flesh eating bacteria. This not only heightens the menace but it makes for some cheap but cool special effects of skin falling off. Also enhanced is the vector of the disease. A flock of birds can be sinister, just look at Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ to see a prime example. Here the birds are also mutated into a cross between a vulture and a prehistoric pterodactyl. For a classic horror slanted Sci-Fi you now need a remote location and some potential bird food. We get that with a group of bad seed teenagers trapped in a forest. This gives Scott some flexibility in doing away with the kids. They can either get infected and watch their skin dissolve or get torn into little bit size bits by the birds. A big negative here is the group of kids. They are out of central casting with an open call for juvenile delinquents ranging from teen prostitutes to a computer hacker. Not one of them is remotely likeable. Since it is impossible to identify with any of the characters the best you can do is relish in their painful and far fetched demise.
The film opens with a shot of two men in a cabin in the woods. If you have seen any flicks of this type you just know that something painful is about to happen. The men, with slightly bad Russian accents, are getting ready to go hunting. The one man bemoans that he really doesn’t like hunting but it gets him away from his wife. As they stroll through the woods suddenly one of the ominous flu birds attacks one of the men ripping him limb from limb. At least Scott starts things out with a fast kill and a glimpse at the monster. This isn’t a flick that wants to build suspense it gets right into things. We then are introduced to the main course, I mean the kids. They are at some wilderness camp for the hopelessly type cast bad teen. They are going through a trust exercise guiding a blind folded chubby guy through the woods. Of course they let him smack into every tree available as they sit back and laugh. The adult in charge reminds them that this is not funny. You can tell the girl with the alpha male kid is a lose moral punk since she has pink streaks in her hair and is wearing a halter top and cut off jeans. This is the universal horror flick sign for bad girl. Well, it isn’t long before the adult is dispatched and the kids are on their own being hunted for a late afternoon snack by the bird creatures. Fortunately they eventually come across a cache of weapons and being the delinquents that they are know how to use them. There is a sub plot in a hospital where the mutated strain of the flu is eating away at people and a couple of the staff setting out to the woods to save the kids.
For a Sci-Fi channel original flick this one isn’t all that bad. It will entertain you. The DVD is released by First Look Studio and as always they pay attention to the video and audio.