The Birds (1963) Archive Review

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Writers: Daphne Du Maurier(from the story by), Evan Hunter(screenplay by)

Stars: Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy

RATING: 4 Stars

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Melanie Daniels is the modern rich socialite, part of the jet-set who always gets what she wants. When lawyer Mitch Brenner sees her in a pet shop, he plays something of a practical joke on her, and she decides to return the favor. She drives about an hour north of San Francisco to Bodega Bay, where Mitch spends the weekends with his mother Lydia and younger sister Cathy. Soon after her arrival, however, the birds in the area begin to act strangely. A seagull attacks Melanie as she is crossing the bay in a small boat, and then, Lydia finds her neighbor dead, obviously the victim of a bird attack. Soon, birds in the hundreds and thousands are attacking anyone they find out of doors. There is no explanation as to why this might be happening, and as the birds continue their vicious attacks, survival becomes the priority. – IMDB

As a film that starts off quite light hearted and humorous, this is an absolute masterpiece of horror and suspense, done by one of the greatest masters of his craft, Alfred Hitchcock. The bast part about it, and what helps to keep the audience on edge and uneasy, is that no explanation is ever given, no cause is ever found, and no solution is ever presented, so there is no cathartic release from the tension. The film ends very abruptly, and seemingly with little resolution at all. Annoying in most cases, but in horror, and especially in suspenseful horror like this, it can be great.

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OK, yes it;s a little corny. And the special effects are shocking by todays standards. The driving sound effects are enough to make you laugh out loud, no car should sound like that just driving around a corner. The background effects are the kind that leave visible lines around the outline of the actual actors. And the birds are obviously fake, but the film was made in the early sixties for crying out loud, so really, it’s all to be expected.

It definitely is scary especially towards the end, and they certainly don’t shy away from the blood and gore, as you can see from the photo above. The comically red blood, that is clearly NOT blood is used with abundance here and it never fails to get a good natured chuckle and eye roll from me. I can’t tell if they do it intentionally as to not freak out the audience, or could they genuinely not find a good substitute for blood?

Despite it’s flaws, this is a great example of Hitchcock’s work, and one that I am sure I don’t have to tell anyone to watch, because it’s excellence is well known, but just in case no one has mentioned it to you before, you should definitely watch this film!

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