Hollywood’s two most famous birds must be Donald Duck and Woody Woodpecker. Between them they’ve starred in almost three hundred films.
This weekend Donald and Woody are joined by Tyler Blu Gunderson, a rare male Spix’s macaw, voiced by Jesse Eisenberg making his second big screen appearance in Rio 2. He’s joined by a cast of fine feathered friends, including a Yellow Canary (Jamie Foxx), a rapping Red-crested Cardinal (will.i.am) and a sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Jemaine Clement), as they leave their home in Rio de Janeiro for the Amazon rainforest.
The colorful co-stars in Rio 2 are animated which makes them a much more agreeable lot than Tippi Hedren’s cast mates in her most famous movie. In the Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds she plays a wealthy socialite visiting Bodega Bay in Northern California when hundreds of ravens, seagulls and pigeons begin viciously attacking the townsfolk.
Some of the birds were props, but many of them were all too real. Actors with ground meat and anchovies daubed on them to entice the birds escaped with nips and scratches but Hedren took the worst of it during the shooting of the movie’s famous attic scene.
She had been told mechanical birds would be used to in the sequence that sees her trapped in a small room while birds attack her. When she arrived at the shoot she saw a cage built around the set and realized the plan had changed. For a week real birds were thrown at her by stagehands. Pecked and scratched by birds attached to her by elastic bands she screamed and sobbed as one of them gouged her eye. It was such a traumatic sight Cary Grant, who dropped by the set to say hello, said, “You’re one brave lady.
It’s no wonder Hedren chose Marnie, and not The Birds, as her favorite Hitchcock leading role.
As distressing as the shoot for The Birds might have been, the movie is now considered a classic.
That can’t be said for a film inspired by Hitchcock’s avian terror.
Birdemic: Shock and Terror director James Nguyen says the inspiration for his movie dates back to 2006 when he saw a flock of seagulls flying toward him at Half Moon Bay south of San Francisco. The sight reminded him of Hitchcock’s film, but he thought, “What if I make a movie where instead of seagulls and crows, it’s birds of prey? There’s nothing more shocking than eagles and vultures.”
The self-financed film took four years to finish and laid an egg in theatres before it became a cult hit as one of the worst film ever made.
When asked what Hitchcock would have thought of Birdemic Nguyen told Empireonline.com, “I think Mr. Hitchcock would forgive a lot of its imperfections and say, ‘James, you did what you could. Do another one and try to do it better.’”