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The Birds (1963)

...And remember, the next scream you hear could be your own!

Directed by:

Alfred Hitchcock

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 119 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

Who couldn’t be terrified of birds? With their beady eyes, pointy faces and projectile droppings, the feathery little cretins are the airborne scourge of all mankind. I know it, you know it, and Alfred Hitchcock knew it even way back in 1963.

‘The Birds’ shows happening what we all know is bound to really happen at some point – beaky assassins, perched outside our schools and our homes, waiting to set upon each and every one of us with their dirty great peckers. It’s not just a horror movie. It’s reality. The birds are after us. Why else do you think they get up so early in the morning? It’s so they can plot our demise while we’re all still having a kip.

The film takes place in the idyllic fishing town of Bodega Bay, where subtle stalker Melanie (Tippi Hedren) has tracked down a bloke she barely knows (Rod Taylor) to the family home he shares with his chirpy kid sister (Veronica Cartwright) and batty maw (Jessica Tandy). But their attempts at smooching become the least of their problems when a gang of crows, seagulls and sparrows take great exception to the impending formation of a love nest and decide to start roughing up the townsfolk.

Hitchcock’s trademark suspense-building perhaps takes a little long to get going in this one, with a good 50 minutes of tepid romantic sub-plot before things really start to kick-off. Despite that, it’s still a cracking horror flick, with some superb moments – one of the most memorable coming when the crows gather at the school gates like common lunch money-stealing bullies while the oblivious kiddies inside belt out some atrocious song or other.

This isn’t Hitchcock’s best, but it still wipes the floor with modern day shock-a-minute fair such as Jeepers Creepers, Wrong Turn or I Know What You Did Last Summer. It might require a bit of patience, but it’s well worth the wait.

It's Got: A grown man wrestling a seagull.

It Needs: For every one of us to walk out into our gardens and cut down our bird houses. Right now. Before it’s too late. Let them buy their own bread in future.

DVD Extras Enough extra features to put many modern day flicks to shame – including an alternate ending, a documentary, Universal news reels, stills, a deleted scene, a trailer, and footage from Ms Hedren’s screen test. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

Psycho, Rear Window, Signs, Vertigo

Summary

You’ll never be able to look a chaffinch in the eyes again.

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