The Birds is a very strange film — a horror/animals run amuck film that is posing as a romantic-comedy. A wealthy and mischievous socialite Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren, Roar) and lawyer Mitch Daniels (the late Rod Taylor, Inglorious Basterds) begin a very contentious prank war against each other that ends up blossoming into a romance as she visits his mother’s (Jessica Tandy, Fried Green Tomatoes) home in Bodega Bay. Also during this stay, Melanie meets and befriends Mitch’s ex-lover, Cathy (Veronica Cartwright, Alien). The budding romance is cut short as the birds begin to suddenly attack all the residents in the coastal town.
At the time of it’s release, I can see why The Birds would have been terrifying. The scenes of school children being pecked by the malevolent creatures are, for their time, intense. I appreciate what they were doing, but I kept thinking the scenes were cartoony and wondering if I had ever seen a parody version on an Treehouse of Horror episode. With that said, the leads endear their characters to the audience so that the emotional impact of sudden attacks have a real edge to them.
I don’t mean to imply all the terror scenes in The Birds lacked an impact on me. There is a set piece near the end where the titular winged villains attack a gas station that has a real sense of menace to it. The Birds starts to feel like a disaster film at this point and as people are set on fire and blown up, it gave me a sinking feeling in my stomach.
The Birds was a fun trip into a by-gone era of film making. It’s a true classic, and reminded me that I have a lot of Hitchcock to catch up on. It sadly spawned a sequel in the 1990s that premiered on Showtime. The Birds II: Land’s End was a flop (because of course), but did star Tippi Hedren. Rod Taylor would later star in a similiar horrible made for TV movie, the silly titled 2007 film, Kaw. It was a SyFy Channel movie, again, because of course.
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