O.H.M.A.D. Day 8: The Birds (1963)

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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. 

thebirds-2At 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.

birds2The 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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