Sunday, March 2, 2008

KAW (2007)

Sheldon Wilson (Untitled Sheldon Wilson Project) directs one from the "most dangerous night on Television" collection. This one's called Kaw. I'm pretty sure you can figure out what it's about from the poster art (left). If not? what else can I say? If the birds ever decide to murder us, you're probably dead in the first wave. This plays like a loose sequel to Hitchcock's The Birds, except that it's only one type of bird (ravens) that turn against man. Also, The Birds already has a fitting sequel in the Brad Johnson starring, Alan Smithee directed classic known as The Birds II: Land's End. Smithee is pretty much the most versatile director in the history of cinema. His projects have included the Hellraiser where Pinhead goes into space, an episode of "The Cosby Show", and The OJ Simpson Story. I'm pretty sure he directed Rudy too, but checking IMBD it becomes pretty clear that he had his name removed from that piece of shit. Kaw is a little better than The Birds II. It's debatable whether or not it's better than Cat's Eye, the one with the murdering sun-uv-a-bitch pigeon on the ledge. My gut tell's me "probably not". Without question, it's far superior to the upcoming Michael Bay/Platinum Dunes' shitter called Sodomizing Hitchcock's Bones . Bay and his crap-factory, Platinum Dunes, are also responsible for Reeming Tobe Hooper a New Asshole and supposedly they'll be doing the same to Kathryn Bigelow (Near Dark, really? Bay and his cronies are actually remaking that?) in the near future.

For a Sci-Fi original, Kaw is about par for the course. It features a couple has-been actors like Sean Patrick Flannery (Powder) and Rod Taylor (Walker Texas Ranger and The Birds). Flannery plays the police chief of a small mid-western town. I'm sure they mentioned the name, but damned if I can remember it. Taylor is the grizzled old town doctor. Steven Mchattie, who was oh-so-despicable as the old killer at the beginning of A History of Violence, plays Clyde, the recovering alcoholic bus driver. He was actually pretty solid in this one. He's a poor man's Lance Henriksen. I'm not sure why they didn't call on Henriksen for the part, but maybe his agent priced him out of the equation. The cast is rounded out with a few sluts (making up a high school team, basketball I think, trapped on the bus with Clyde), a poor man's Joaquin Phoenix (Flannery's deputy), Kristen Booth (Cruel Intentions 2) as Flannery's wife, and Betty (diner proprieter).

Basically the Amish suck. That's the gist of the story. Ok, I just learned that the m-fers in this story aren't actually Amish, but Menonites. What the fuck is the difference? Well, I think these guys can ride in cars? They still grow awkward looking beards, wear wide brimmed hats, speak a barely intelligible dialect, and live on farms. Well, I'm mostly kidding. I've never met a Menonite before. Everything I know about them I learned from two films; Witness and Kingpin. They certainly didn't suck in those films. Oh wait, those guys were Amish. Damn this is confusing. Perhaps Wilson, the director, just has an axe to grind? Maybe a pack of Menonites murdered his family. More realistically, Wilson is probably just from a small town where a Menonite farmer let some mad cow disease go unchecked. It then spread to the local raven population who fed on the infected cattle carcasses. Due to the neglect of the Menonites, the townspeople were then set upon by mad cow infected birds. Wait, that's exactly what happens in this film. If that really happened to Wilson's town I can totally understand where he's coming from. However, in defense of the Menonites, it's possible they tried to warn the town only their letters didn't arrive in time. And, if there are any Menonites reading this well, then, I don't know.....are you sure you should be on that computer? I don't think you have a right to be pissed. I may have called you out but you had to break a sacred rule to find out about it. Whose God gonna favor?

Flannery is the chief of police who has "had his fair share of speed traps and parking tickets." He and his anthropologist wife (Booth) are looking to leave town but, first, he has to investigate an old man's "accidental" death on a farm. It was during the old man's death that I thought the film would actually have some balls. Initially, it seemed like the killer-bird epidemic was started after the old man accidentaly ran over one of their brethren. Unfortunately, the filmmakers didn't stick to their guns. I guess simple revenge wasn't "scientific" enough for the boys at Sci-Fi, hence the mad cow angle. Whatever. So, yeah, this old geezer was pecked to death and Flannery investigates. As the story progresses, the birds get more aggressive. It's all real simple. Eventually, the few remaining townspeople hole up in a central location (the diner) and try to stay alive. It's Night of the Living Mad Cow infected ravens. There's also a sub plot about Flannery's wife spending a good chunk of the movie stuck in a Menonite well after learning of their nefarious plans to keep their role in the spreading epidemic from the "english". Would those Menonite bastards kill to keep their secret safe? And, if so, would they use god-sanctioned weapons?

Despite featuring an assinine plot, characterizations, etc, the movie still managed to include some adequate special effects. I loved the silhouette of the ravens against the moon. I liked how the ravens were stark raven mad, yet retained enough of their senses to be able to work together, something these solitary creatures can't even manage when sober. The tragic demise of the deputy, complete with sad music, nearly brought a tear to my eyes. I don't know, it seemed to me, while watching, that Young Indiana Jones could have done more to save him. Many of the townsfolk wished the Menonites would just go away: "Why don't you go make a quilt, bake a pie, raise a barn, whatever. Just stop looking at me." This type of movie almost always features a doomed dispatcher and this one is no exception. As soon as the airwaves go dead, it's a sure sign that the town has been overrun.

There's a moment in this film, a moment so startlingly terrifying that I'm pretty sure you might just crap your pants. Of course, this happens when the ravens "throw" rocks at the bus windows in an attempt to get in. Stranded in the bus are Clyde, three female basketball players and their coach, Coach Bird Feed. Also, a Menonite girl (apparently this picture couldn't bear to have a plot strand without one). I liked the scenes involving the stranded bus. Basically, they consisted of Clyde running out to fix the bus, birds attacking, running back on the bus, and so on. The tension of the scene was created by adding a faulty door into the mix.

Finally, the film resolves itself back at the diner. The survivors make it back there, board it up and, still, the ravens get in. A Menonite elder tries to legally cover his ass by proclaiming "We have not kept to ourselves as we believe God wants and now he is punishing us for it." Uh huh. Sure. So, it has nothing to do with the mad cow disease you allowed to progress unfettered? Mother. Fucker. Anyway, Clyde comes up with an incredibly ridiculous final solution for dealing with the ravens. A solution so ridiculous, I'm not even sure how it worked. It's possible for Sci-Fi to do better, but to paraphrase a doomed character from this film, they're (the Sci-Fi Network) trapped in mud or shit or something and the ravens (awful, worthless films) are going to get in eventually (debut on an upcoming saturday night). Not sure how that fits, but whatever. I want a King Kong vs. Godzilla inspired sequel where the Kaws take on the abmominables from the coda of Abominable, only the abominables are sorta good, and the Kaws get the shit stomped out of themselves. Wow, I'm rambling and I'm tired. I guess I have one more thing to add. Why is it that the state police or the National Guard in these pictures can never make it to town until sun up? Are we to believe that their numbers are spread thin by similar incidents across the county, the state, the nation? It happens in every one of these pictures. I want a film where the national guard arrives on time, immediately followed by the marines, the CDC, a litany of mercernaries, some benevolent alien bounty hunters, maybe even a few hookers and still they're fucked.

15 comments:

Sam said...

"Stark raven mad": that's GOLD, Brian, GOLD!

Sam said...

One of my favorite (potentially untrue) fun-facts is that Jakob Ammons put into effect the schism with the Mennonite church (founding the Amish community) because of, among other things, differences of opinion about foot-washing.

elmo said...

Griffin just yesterday nearly ripped Sara's bottom lip off. It's begun.

Beepy said...

My favorite line has to be the one about how the Mennonite's tried to warn the general community but the letter didn't get there in time. Nice job, Brian.

brian said...

I just wish I had thought of that line sooner. Maybe we could have gotten it on the DVD cover. Do they make special edition DVDs of Sci-Fi Originals?

Regarding the foot washing: Did Jacob favor getting those tough to reach places between the toes?

brian said...

Yeah beepy, I'm actually thinking their carrier pigeons were set upon by the infected birds.

If the epidemic is truly beginning, as Elmo hints at, I like to think I've learned enough from these movies to survive it (at least for a while).

Beepy said...

I'd like to see someone try to survive it by wearing armor only to be driven insane by all the pinging noises the beaks would make.

I wonder, what would be the best survival strategy? What do the damn birds want anyway? Other than some Elmo-lovin', what are Griffin's secret desires?

steve said...

Ah yes, those crazy, trouble-making Mennonites! Can't trust a one of 'em, can we, Locke?

steve said...

And how can you call Sean Patrick Flannery 'washed up'??? He and his toxic tobacco habit are the STARS of the cult film 'Boondock Saints'!

Or as you asserting that anybody who shows up in something called 'Kaw' is, de facto, washed up? Does the medium define the message?

steve said...

And in case any of you, despite reading Brian's review, decide to WATCH 'Kaw,' it should be pointed out: REAL ravens are much smarter than the birds portrayed in the movie. Freakishly, 'that story has to be made up' smart.

brian said...

Actually, Flannery was "de facto" washed up when he starred in 'Powder'. God, that movie sucked.

If REAL Ravens are so damned intelligent, how come I never see them tossing rocks around?

steve said...

because, my dear brian (and any other wretched homo sapiens who might be reading this), throwing rocks is the sad, sole province of MAN.

Sam said...

Aeschylus died when a raven dropped a rock on his head! At least, so goes another favorite, potentially untrue fun-fact.

Sam said...

At least, that's what Sophocles and I WANTED people to believe ... bwa-ha-ha-ha ...

steve said...

Can't believe Locke hasn't risen to the Mennonite bait ... maybe it's just too easy for him to bother ...