Tuesday, August 18, 2009

#76 - The Birds

The Birds (1963)
Slightly Trashy

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock. Written by: Evan Hunter based on the short by Daphne du Maurier.

Plot: Birds randomly start attacking people.

Review: What more is there to say? This is the classic animals-go-crazy-and-kill-a-bunch-of-people movie. I mean, it’s fucking Hitchcock, the damn thing sells itself, unlike many of the other movies on this list, some of which I actually had to think about for a really, really long time before figuring out why the hell I liked them.

I first saw this movie when I was younger (let's say twelve), at a friends house. We all piled in their parents bed and watched The Birds. How exciting. It left me with a sense of extreme disappointment.

First of all, horror movies should not be watched with friends to begin with. One should watch them alone, in the dark, when one is feeling paranoid to increase impact. Watching them with friends is just unfair because you’ll just sit and talk through the whole thing anyway (well, I will). Actually watching movies with friends is a bad idea anyway unless they’re a special kind of friend. I have special movie friends.

Anyway, the second thing that really disappointed me was the ending. I’ll remind you, I was only twelve (or whatever) and I pondered the conclusion for years. “What the fuck was that all about?” I asked myself. I did not come up with an answer.

But I saw this movie again, probably a few years ago now (maybe I was fifteen. I don’t know), and am now able to appreciate its subtle horror.

There are birds everywhere you look. It doesn’t matter where you are, there they are. And what if all of them just suddenly decided to attack humanity? The chances of that happening are much more likely than dead people getting up and eating the living, and yet most people I know spend way more time worrying about that. Yes, I do own a copy of The Zombie Survival Guide and know exactly what I’m going to do in the event that Dawn of the Dead actually happens. I’m very organized. But if birds decide to attack? I’m fucked.

That is the subtle horror of The Birds. The fact that you never even think about it. You’re just sitting there minding your own business and then bam, the chickens are eating you. Disturbing shit.

In addition to the subtle horror, the film is also really funny in it’s own weird way and well put together with good characters who you actually care about instead of just waiting around for them to get killed.

Also inspired numerous imitators such as Frogs and every other animal attack movie you can think of made after 1963. Except ones about bugs or giant stuff. They’re ripped off of other things.

Although, I still don't understand the ending, and think it's kind of a cop out. Despite the fact that I thought Tippi Hedren and all them were decent people, I think it would have been a better ending if they had all gotten horribly, horribly killed.

Favourite Part:
The bit in the restaurant where all those people are talking about what’s going on. And there's that woman who's some kind of birdwatcher who starts going on about the different between crows and blackbirds. I swear to God I know that woman. It’s really hilarious. And then a bunch of people get horrible, horribly killed outside. Nowadays, the whole movie probably would have been set inside the restaurant and would be boring as hell.

Other versions: None.

Sequels: Followed by a made for television sequel, The Birds 2: Land’s End (directed by the great Alan Smithee) which I have no desire to see whatsoever as it is an unholy abomination.

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