For the Birds
For the Birds was created for the 1994 Wyandotte, Michigan Jaycees movie-themed haunted house. (You'll never guess which movie it represented.) It was my first (and, come to think of it, my last) automatic prop. It's not very easy to spot, but there's a straw that goes through the eye of the head. This extends all the way through and out the back. A wire was attached to nose of the little black bird and then connected to a motor with a plate on it that made the bird bob back and forth, pecking at the eye. It was a pretty effective prop. It probably would have been even better if I could have figured out how to make the movements a little more jerky - like a real bird.
This was one of the first props (along with Behind Me?) where I sawed the polyfoam skull's jaw open to create the screaming effect. I had a lot of fun modelling for this one. I used a little desk mirror. I would made the most horrific open-mouthed face I could think of, then take up some Model Magic and sculpt. Then I'd try to repeat the face and do it again. (Rinse and repeat. ) Although the jaw looks extraordinarily extended, I assure you I was able to make a face sort of like this. I think that this was my favorite part of this prop.
For the Birds was essentially a one-gag prop as created. I couldn't see recycling it over and over again each year. (If I'd have managed to re-create the jerky motion of a real bird, it might have been a different story.) It sort of sat around for a few years until I came up with another idea for a prop in late 1996. My friend Randy was working on an Asylum-themed house that year and I decided to make a half-body prop for him that represented a guy who had been shackled and then basically gutted. If that interests you, you can learn more about that prop on the page for Bob (opens in a new window). For Bob, I basically got rid of the wig, touched For the Birds up while making sure to preserve that wonderful, screaming face.