The Birds BarbieThe Birds

“The Birds” (1963) dir. Alfred Hitchcock

Good day, everyone! Adam here.  Josh is taking today off, so I will providing you with your uncommon Horror Movie fix.  As far as Hitchcock goes, “Psycho” gets a lot more play than this gem, especially at Halloween time.  “Psycho” deserves every bit of credit coming to it.

But “The Birds”…oh, man.  Terror.  Let’s take a moment now to hash out the difference between horror and terror.  Horror is a moment in time.  AH! The man with the knife! The dead body! The unexpected!  Terror is sustained over time.  What’s around that corner? When will the monster come back?  Are we going to live?

“The Birds” is terror after terror after terror.  Like “Psycho,” “Birds” takes at least an hour before the mayhem starts happening.  The movie follows a hottentot young socialite who flirts with a man named Mitch in a San Francisco pet shop, and then follows him out of town to his home in small seaside village Bodega Bay.  The woman, Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren, Melanie Griffith’s still gawgeous mama) delivers a cage of lovebirds to the man’s little sister for her birthday.  Some time later, Bodega Bay is besieged by bird attacks that become so relentless that everyone is driven from town.

This movie is a practice in what I believe is Hitchcock’s unofficial favorite word: sinister.  This movie is sinister shit.  Firstly, there is no score.  In fact, no music at all except for a scene where a schoolchildren’s choir underscores an ominous flocking of birds at a jungle gym.  The score in this movie is actually the sounds of the birds (by keith).  Bernard Hermann, Hitchcock’s John Williams, made famous for his “Psycho” strings, actually worked on “Birds” with a German sound synchronizer to orchestrate the bird sounds.  Very unsettling.

The lack of score music allows the film to not become dated (what dates the movie is a cast full of chain smokers and a businessman who needs to finish his whiskey lunch before giving  a mom and her kids a lift out of town).  To modern moviegoers I will say, be patient.  The charm of the film is that it’s 45 minutes of a rom-com before it turns into Birds Kill Everybody.  This movie’s got more great scenes than a lot of people give it up for.  It’s also stone cold.  It’s dark, it isn’t kind to its characters, and the closing shot (which Hitchcock explained is a single shot composed of 32 separate pieces of film) is HAAAAAAAAARRIFYING.

Let’s take a peek at Mr. Hitchcock’s trailer:

I LOVE HITCHCOCK TRAILER’S, GOD DAMN IT!  I wish people would do more trailers like this now.  I was talking with my brother about this, and he thinks Quentin Tarantino could and SHOULD get away with free online auto insurance quotes doing trailers like this.  I completely agree.  He’s already riffing on so much retro pastiche, this would get me salivating for one.

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Written by Josh

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