Beaks (1987)

Beaks_1

AKA: Beaks: The Movie
AKA: Beaks: The Birds 2
AKA: Birds of Prey
AKA: Evil Birds
AKA: Falco Terror

Television reporter, Vanessa, and her cameraman boyfriend, Peter, are sent out to cover what they believe to be a cheesy story about a farmer who was one day inexplicably attacked by his chickens. But to their astonishment, this ridiculous tale of fowl fury turns out to not be an isolated incident. Pretty soon, Vanessa and Peter are putting in some serious frequent flyer miles, collecting stories of other unexplained bird-related acts of aggression from all over the world. As the strange incidents pile up and increase in number, everyone agrees that something is ticking off the local wildlife, but no one seems to be able to pinpoint what it is, or more importantly, how to stop it.

Beaks_2

Uh, how about not hanging so many skulls in your living room? Maybe start there.

You know how whenever a movie has animals in it is almost always accompanied by the disclaimer “No animals were harmed in the making of this film”? Well, animal activists beware, because that sure as hell isn’t the case for this 1987 eco/terror by René Cardona Jr.. Cardona was particularly well known for the animal cruelty in his films, throwing cats willy-nilly and killing a live shark in his film, Tintorera. Beaks takes things up a notch by using live birds as recreational target practice, stapling the animals to clothing to keep them in frame, and having crew members literally throw pigeons at actors during “attack” scenes. Considering all the characters who have eyes gouged out in this film, I’m genuinely surprised that someone didn’t actually get their eye gouged out making this film. But, shockingly, I can find no horror news stories of maimed actors. So instead of an interesting horror-related backstory, we’re just treated to your typical cheap, R-rated Birds homage, one whose negatives are likely covered with the blood of countless actual dead birds. Fun.

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“Yes, animals were harmed in the making of this film. F*&% you, bird lovers!” – René Cardona Jr.

Beyond that, the film is about what you would expect from a movie with a poster featuring a terrified woman surrounded by large birds ripping at her clothing. Nudity? Check. Crappy gore? Check. Pointless explosion? Check. Obnoxious slow-motion scenes involving women and children used to pad out the run time? Check. Unsurprisingly, the plot here is pretty pointless and at times just downright incoherent. While much of the story mainly centers around the two reporters, it also ping-pongs around to follow other people in different parts of the world as they all grapple with their own pile of pissed-off pigeons. The most notable of these include a curmudgeon-y farmer and his wife, a bickering couple and their two children who are clearly having the worst vacation ever, a child’s birthday party ripped right out of Hitchcock’s own feathered opus, and a pair of hang gliders who must have been special in some way, because instead of having pigeons thrown at their faces by crew members they got upgraded to an trained eagle attack by the beach. How do all these singular stories relate to one another? Do they all individually contribute information needed to solve mankind’s plight against the birds? Do their stories converge at the end in some kind of spectacular finale?

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Errr….

Pffft. No, of course they freakin’ don’t. The movie doesn’t even bother to use the built-in excuse of having the reporter pair interview them at some point in time. All those stories are all just excuses to cram the movie with bird-filled set pieces. I’m pretty sure half of them exist because some unscrupulous aviary was still willing to sell birds to the filmmakers. And if you’re going into this expecting some sort of actual reasoning for the birds to have lost their minds, then you can give up on that hope too, I’m afraid. In perhaps the one instance of the producers following Hitchocks own playbook, the answer to the bird’s sudden instances of murderous rage is basically for the characters to look at the camera and give it a big ol’ fat shrug. Yes, that’s right. You spend the entire movie watching some of the worst reporters ever talk about solving the mystery of the murderous birds, only in the end for them to come up with jack-diddly. I think I would have been less insulted if the answer had been some evil super villain with a bird obsession.

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Seriously, you two suck. Go away.

Quite predictably, the dialogue for this film is also quite terrible. The acting is bad, lines are often flubbed, and one guy takes a break from his bubble bath to talk to his genitals. That same actor, Christopher Atkins who plays Peter, then tops that ridiculousness by later actually managing to utter “You mean we’re sitting ducks” with a straight face. Yup, this one’s clearly a winner in the writing department. Another dig against the dialogue is that the film is also completely in English, but other than the two leads, the vast majority of the remaining cast don’t seem to be native English speakers. I guess the filmmakers thought that was fine, because they had probably decided to just dub over most of the film anyway. The problem is, based on lip movement, they still had the Spanish speaking cast say their lines in English. Now, if you’ve ever tried to speak any language you’re not fluent in, you can probably already see where the issue here is. When you’re not fluent in something, you tend to pause a lot, which is exactly what happens in Beaks. So because the Spanish speaking cast had to put more thought into what they were saying (ironically so that they would not flub their lines), they had to pause for a second and think about it and get it right. But that means that when they dubbed it, the dubbers were also forced to pause so that the lip movements matched up correctly. So much of the dialogue….has people talking….like this….much of the….time. Which means, surprise surprise, everyone sounds like even more of an idiot than they would with just the dialogue alone. Good times.

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Ah, finally, blissful silence.

So, Beaks pretty much fulfills your perceived standards for Z-Grade movie knock offs. The story is dumb, the dialogue is dumb, the characters are dumb, the effects (at least what little there are of them) are bad, and in the end they don’t explain a lick of the plot, so the whole story amounts to jack. This is basically a cheap attempt to provide a more bloody take on Hitchcock’s The Birds, but everything feels so tame and turned out so bad that the result is laughable. I wanna say it’s so bad that they had to know how awful most of it was, but I’m pretty sure they did most of this with a straight face, which makes it feel even more ridiculously funny. I mean, come on. Their choice of feathery holy terror was mundane little pigeon, probably one of the least threatening creatures on the planet. I’d have felt more threatened by a flock of flamingos. On the plus side, the film moves at a pretty good clip, ludicrous slow-mo moments aside, so it’s really over before you have a chance to really hate it. It’s essentially cheap and sleazy Birds on a budget, and though it doesn’t hold a candle to the film that inspired it, it’s still leagues better than Birdemic, so as far as I’m concerned it’s still watchable.

Beaks is available for streaming on Amazon, including a riffed version from our friends over at Rifftrax.

Beaks is also available on DVD, but currently only as an import under the title Birds of Prey.

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Michi

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