Hollywood actor Rod Taylor, a favorite from such genre classics as THE BIRDS and THE TIME MACHINE, is currently reuniting with some feathered friends in Canada. The creators of KAW, a Sci Fi Channel movie scheduled to air in fall 2006, decided to employ some referential casting in their birds-gone-mad saga, and got Taylor involved.
The plot of the $1.3-million movie, directed by SHALLOW GROUND’s Sheldon Wilson, shot by that film’s John Tarver and written by Chuck Reeves, concerns a small town and its citizens who are suddenly attacked by thousands of vicious, psychotic ravens. The townsfolk (led by Sean Patrick Flanery from TV’s THE DEAD ZONE) learn that the flying killers have been infected with a mysterious new virus that is causing them to go insane. Complicating matters is a secretive Mennonite community living outside of town—people who knew about the impending threat the birds posed but said nothing to their neighbors.
“The difference between KAW and THE BIRDS is that in Hitchcock’s classic, a reason is never really offered to explain the birds’ behavior,” says KAW producer Gordon Yang. “This script ties into a lot of popular anxiety around natural disasters and things like the avian flu.”
When Taylor was approached about doing another film with feathered fiends, his response was straightforward: “I told them to f**k off,” he laughs. “No, really, I thought the script was fun. But special effects have changed now. Much of it is done by computer, whereas when we did THE BIRDS, there were thousands of real birds used on the set.”
Taylor says that working conditions on the set of the 1963 landmark were anything but ideal, true to the lore surrounding the film. “There were hundreds of birds and basically, they would just throw them at you for effect,” the actor recalls. “I felt most sorry for Tippi [Hedren], though; Hitchcock really gave her a hard time. She had a nervous breakdown on the set. She and the bird handlers, they were constantly having to run after the birds. They really only have about a dozen real birds on the set of KAW.”
Those dozen actual ravens were brought in from the Czech Republic, and were previously used on Terry Gilliam’s THE BROTHERS GRIMM. “These birds are fantastic,” Yang says. “And we are going to have sequences where the actual birds appear to attack an actor on the run.”