Kaw Review: Stark Raven Mad
Updated: Apr 17
Dir: Sheldon Wilson
Release Date: 2007
“A small town is attacked by ravens who seem to be working together”
Stone the crows!
Yet another film about killer birds?
Yes, of 'Kaws' it is!
Sean Patrick Flaherty is the main guy here as the Sheriff (Wayne) working a truly awful last day before he leaves town with his wife.
Kristin Booth plays his wife, Cynthia who has a pretty bad day as well.
They get some good support from a grouchy as shit Stephen McHattie as a former alcoholic trying to turn his life around.
The Town Doc is played by prolific 1960s veteran actor, Rod Taylor.
Fun Fact: Rod Taylor was in the Alfred Hitchcock's far superior, 'The Birds'. Maybe they should look into Rod Taylor being the cause of all of these random bird attacks.
Right, lets get on with it.
We begin with a couple of scenes we keep changing back and forth from.
One scene is some old guy wandering up to his barn and the other is our hero, Wayne and his wife in bed and not wanting to get out of this bed.
While these scenes end worse for the old guy, Wayne does try to get some sex and is playfully refused such a treat. He even says there is 15 minutes before he has to get up.
It's Wayne's last day on the job as he intends to quit, sell his family home and follow his wife's dreams of moving away for a better career even though he'll have no job and have to start from nothing in a strange place.
Still no sexy sex though? Women huh? Am I right, guys?
She actually does finally relent but they get interrupted by Luanne from the Police dispatch desk over the radio they have romantically placed close to their bedroom.
Back to this old guy who is in his barn, wiping straw off his tractor and looking upwards to see how it could have all got there.
This splendid acting enabled me to ascertain that this is out of the ordinary and he does not just throw shit all over his tractor each night before locking up.
Sadly, while Wayne and Cynthia finally get out of bed, the old guy is attacked and killed by several CGI ravens.
Clyde (Stephen McHattie) is fixing his old school bus and generally being grouchy when he sees a raven. The natural thing for him to do is pick up an empty beer can and throw it at the bird which doesn't do a damn thing.
Clyde's dog is acting up and barking about the place throughout the scene and we see more ravens behind Clyde when he turns for another can.
Fun Fact: The collective noun for ravens is a 'conspiracy', which is very apt for this movie.
After they dive bomb him a bit, which gives McHattie a chance to enjoy some classic wrestling with a toy action, he grabs a shotgun and fires it wildly into the air and the ravens become mostly CGI again and leave.
We seemingly head back to the 1940s now as we arrive at Betty's Cookhouse where Betty's buying some milk from an unusually old fashioned young woman.
She's part of the Mennonite group who live locally. More from them later.
Fun Fact: Mennonites live much like Amish with some differences. I did look it all up but they are so slight and specific, I can't possibly go into the details here. Try educating yourselves, dammit!
Cynthia is out on the Mennonite farm land trying to give a photo album or some shit to a girl named Gretchen before leaving town. Jacob (pictured above) is not happy and tells her to piss up a rope. He actually just asks her to leave but I know he was thinking it.
Clyde's dog is attacked by ravens and dies. Sorry to hit you with that straight out but it is not a nice bit and possibly the best death in the film. I won't dwell on it but here's a screen still anyway. Poor little fella
A totally irrelevant and expendable couple roll into town now and fill up with gas at Betty's (who lets people just help themselves to the pumps and fill up on their own) before driving off again.
I wonder what will happen to them....?
Sheriff turns up at Betty's to speak to Clyde about shooting his gun off and Clyde tells him about the bird attack. As is customary, if not indeed required, of a small town sheriff, Wayne ignores Clyde and tells him he is totally wrong.
Clyde picks up 3 girls and a coach for a basketball workshop somewhere or other which is totally underusing the massive yellow bus he has and off they go to also never arrive at their destination.
His passengers are as follows:
Emma: The Coach of the team - probably won't survive
Doris: A tall bastard and the bitch of the group. She bullies Clyde for some reason - hopefully won't survive
Connie: No idea who she is and adds nothing to film but screaming - odds on favourite not to survive
Gretchen: The Mennonite girl who is keen to mix with others against her overly strict father's wishes - Probably only survivor
Wayne is still at Betty's when they notice a few large birds outside. Betty calls them crows and Wayne corrects her and says they are ravens and as smart as dogs.
Fun Fact: IMDB tells me that they actually ARE crows as very few ravens were actually used or even shown in this film. Betty knows best
The pointless couple are driving along being miserable when the road is blocked by the truck the Mennonite woman was driving to deliver milk.
After investigating, they find her dead but there's no point crying over spilled milk and they head back to their car. Which is covered with ravens!!!
They scare the ravens away to buy themselves some time and manage to get in the car to try to drive away. After being dive-bombed by many CGI birds, they do the natural thing and turn the car over into a ditch.
In turn, the car does the natural thing and immediately catches fire.
Wayne sees the smoke and sets off to investigate. Upon arrival, he heroically pulls the woman to safety and not so heroically leaves the guy to burn. She is attractive though.
He calls Stan, his deputy, who is still standing in the barn from the opening scene and staring at the corpse of the dead old man. The Doc is there with him. Get your asses to Town! NOW!
Cynthia is looking at a photo of herself and Gretchen (why would she have that taken?) and, clearly unhappy about the piss up the rope comment nobody actually said, she decides to head back onto the farm to needlessly snoop about a bit.
While stealthily sneaking around in a barn, she discovers rather a large amount of dead cattle just all stacked in a pile. Thankfully, this is odd enough to justify her trespassing and she continues.
Jacob and Oskar are outside by a huge bonfire discussing the 'plagues sent to punish' them. Oskar thinks it is a disease and they must ask for help from the townsfolk. Jacob says he can go piss up a rope (of course not) and that mingling with 'The English' is why God is punishing them.
This dialogue is interrupted by the sound of more birds from the barn and Jacob sets off to investigate. Due to the ambiguity yet also a possible serious threat in their words, Cynthia is now in fear of her life and runs for it. And falls down a well.
"Do you see what this has come to?"
"We must find her and put a stop to this once and for all.".
Fair enough, they do seem to be leaning on veiled threats even if they are harmless.
Oh, and in the well is some kind of a cow corpse thing. That or a dead Rancor. whichever seems more plausible. More on this later...
Back into town and Wayne arrives with the pointless woman and we get to see an even more pointless young boy on his bicycle watching as Wayne carries her to the Doc who has returned back with Stan.
After they lay her down, Stan and Wayne check out the street through the window. Inexplicably, the kid is now in the middle of the road, on he floor, laying beneath his bike and surrounded by Ravens who don't even seem to know he's there.
In case the birds suddenly give a shit, Wayne heroically runs back out and shouts at Stan to stay there. Stan does nothing of the sort and runs out as well firing his shotgun wildly into the air.
He is immediately swarmed by CGI ravens and dies. What an idiot.
The townsfolk arrive, well, we see about 6 of them and ask Wayne WTF. He knows nothing, of course, but we do learn that the phone lines are down which is just typical and a total hassle!
Clyde is being bullied by schoolgirls again as Doris keeps throwing the basketball at him while he's driving. The threat of being thrown off the bus doesn't do much to deter them as she throws it again and somehow the bus breaks down. Doris, you bitch!
Nightfall appears to be very sudden out there in small towns as it is now just dark. Cynthia is still somehow trapped down this well and has made no attempt to free herself or call for help. Thankfully, she has not awoken the Rancor. She's not done anything.
Clyde is still trying to fix the bus while Doris is being a total fucking bitch and he really should have just smashed her face in with the baseball bat he has with him.
Doris is about to start walking back to town when the birds arrive. Gretchen sees them first and shouts for everyone to get back on the bus. Nobody listens until the birds are upon them and we hit another CGI attack frenzy.
Gretchen and Connie are on the bus and Gretchen tries to shut the doors, deciding
"There's no saving them!", even though they are all still alive and on their feet.
Connie adds the ever helpful, "MAKE IT STOP! MAAAKE IT STOOPPPP!!"
Surprisingly, when Gretchen leans on the horn, the birds all fuck right off. This is never explained, nor is it explored later, or even mentioned ever again. Oh well. It worked.
Sadly, Emma the coach had already been pecked to pieces by the time the ravens left but her heroic last words of, "Get them home", were almost enough to make Doris shit.
Hey, guess what Cynthia's doing? That's right! Absolutely fuck all! She's still in the well. Jacob turns up at the well, looks around and pours gasoline down it all over her.
Cynthia still decides not to say anything and only when Jacob is about to throw a lit lantern down there and set her on fire... "Why are you doing this to me?!", she whimpers.
It's at this point that Jacob looks down, sees she is in the well and immediately sets about rescuing her. He didn't even know she was there!
Cynthia is such an idiot, she's been in this well all bastard day with a rotting corpse and would have been set on fire just because she misunderstood what she had eavesdropped after trespassing, all to return a damned photo album to a girl who isn't even there!
Clyde is back out trying to fix the bus. Doris offers to help because she feels guilty but Clyde tells her to piss up a rope (he doesn't). The ravens return and Gretchen again seems to be having trouble allowing him back on the bus. WTF Gretchen?
Gretchen's father, Oskar, is waiting at Betty's for the bus to bring Gretchen back. Look at the guy's beard! LOOK AT IT!!! The Doc is there as well. Sans beard.
Back at the bus again and the ravens have now taken to throwing rocks at the windows to try to get in! Seriously, they have. Smarter than dogs I tell you!
Wayne turns up and once again we have someone firing a shotgun wildly into the air. Two actually as he hands a spare shotgun to Clyde and apologises for not believing him earlier on. He gets a nod and we move on. The plan is to get to Betty's. All in the truck!
Luanne, who is probably the least appreciated character in this film, is now killed while still sat at her desk trying to get the State Police over to assist. A raven is seen pecking at her hair and eating her Goddam brain! Cynthia overhears on the radio and heads to Betty's as well.
Wayne is distracted by a few ravens again and careers the truck off the road and into a cornfield. All out of the truck! This proves to be a terrible idea as they split up, treat us to some more wild shotgun fire and Connie is found dead.
The others all make it to Betty's and we find Oskar has some explaining to do. Jacob actually alluded to it before to Cynthia but she's so bloody useless she thought nothing of it and sure didn't mention it.
The Mennonite cattle have apparently contracted Mad Cow Disease and the ravens have been feeding on their infected flesh. D'oh! Not sure what that means for those with raven inflicted wounds. The Doc doesn't have time to tell us because there's another incoming attack.
The ravens are killing the lights by flying into them (really) and smashing the bulbs.
"We gotta get these windows covered", says Wayne, and this leads to my favourite scene of people just randomly shouting that they need things. Try to keep up....
Doc: "Hey Betty, Betty, you got a flashlight?"
Clyde: "Get me some tools!"
Doc: "Hey Betty, you got a hammer and nails? What have you got?"
Cynthia: Get me some nails and a hammer now!"
Oskar: "Good good, hurry!"
Clyde: "Okay Oskar, you take over!"
Cynthia: "Ok Tom (?) get that bench, bring it over here. I need that bench, Doc!"
Oskar: "Gretchen, bring that chalkboard!"
Doris: " Hurry, hurry Gretchen, hurry"
Wayne: "Everybody hang on"
The birds begin to smash headlong into the glass while they continue to shout.
Doris: "Cover the back window!"
Clyde: "Doris, get that table!"
Wayne: "Hang on!"
Doc: "They're getting in"
They are indeed getting in and they kill Betty while the rest of the idiots just flail their arms around and shout stuff.
Clyde is particularly upset about Betty and decides "someone's gotta do something". He heads outside to the gas pumps and duly pumps gasoline all over the place.
After a moment where Clyde drops his lighter, he grabs it again and throws it into the pool of gasoline, prompting a pump explosion and his instant death.
Fun Fact: Pump Explosion is one of my more difficult to find films from the late 1980s.
After Wayne stares at the fire for a bit, we blend back inside to see the survivors all sitting in Betty's Cookhouse. We learn that it's been a couple of hours since Clyde exploded and it's been relatively quiet since then in terms of bird attacks.
Wayne braves the outside and sees that all the ravens appear to just be dying.
"Clyde must've finished them off", suggests Doris who is somehow still there. She's obviously wrong and is told that immediately.
"I've certainly never heard of this with birds but it's running its course, they're dying. They're dying fast", offers up the good Doctor and they all stand looking at the scene.
Epilogue: Back at Wayne and Cynthia's, among all the packing boxes they have ready for the big move. She offers him the chance to stay and carry on with his lawman life. He suggests they give it a couple of days and see what happens. Kaw 2?
Before we have time for that, she also offers him that 15 minutes of sexy sex he didn't get from the morning before (I'm guessing it's next day as it was dark for a bit) and more surprisingly perhaps, he accepts the offer.
They slowly walk up the stairs, Cynthia just stops walking when she gets to the top for some reason which makes Wayne almost walk into her until she does a sudden turn and gasp and......
A CGI raven flies right at us!! Black screen. End
Not as good as The Birds and not as laughably terrible as Birdemic: Shock and Terror, though I do acknowledge that it's a pretty wide window of scope.
How did Cynthia graduate to be a Professor of Cultural Anthropology in that little town?
What even is Cultural Anthropology?*
What hours does Luanne work as she's the only one working on the dispatch desk?
Is it a good idea to let the town alcoholic drive the kids around in the only school bus?
How come everyone has at least one shotgun?
Is it standard practice to fire shotguns wildly into the air whenever feeling threatened?
How come they also have unlimited ammunition?
How did a basketball cause a bus to break down?
What the fuck happened to Jacob?
Why did Clyde blow himself up when all he needed was the pumps to explode?
What happened to everyone who had been wounded by infected ravens?
Why are Cynthia and Wayne still horny after seeing more than half of their good friends die?
*Fun Fact: Cultural anthropologists study how people who share a common cultural system organize and shape the physical and social world around them, and are in turn shaped by those ideas, behaviors, and physical environments.
The movie is currently available on Amazon Prime.
Doc played by Rod Taylor. He keeps a straight face, maintains his decorum and doesn't even seem overly bothered about the ravens attacking everyone at all. Maybe because he's seen it all before? He also never tells everyone if they'll die or not after being contaminated by disease carrying birds, which was a nice touch.
Realising Cynthia is still in the well with a rotting animal carcass after the entire day has passed and all for absolutely no reason.
Betty: My Grandmother used to say that ravens were the eyes of the Devil. Aren't they supposed to be as smart as dogs?
I'm going to have to give this to Clyde for his totally needless sacrifice. Not only did he not need to be in the explosion in the first place but the birds died off shortly afterwards anyway