Saturday, February 18, 2017
A Quick Look: THE BIRDS (1962-color)
THE BIRDS is the closest thing the screen's Master of Suspense ever came to making a "monster movie." It's key scenes continue to be copied by "zombie movies" to this day. Although the second half is very strong, the first half is woefully meandering, as we follow Tippi Hedren in her bizarre pestering of Rod Taylor, basically a random guy she meets in a pet shop. She stalks him back to his home on the tiny island of Bodega Bay and then even rents a room with Taylor's old flame Suzanne Pleshette! Eventually, things begin moving as unexplained and seemingly random bird attacks begin happening. Soon, a full-scale war between bird and man has Bodega Bay crippled. What begins as Hitchcock's weakest work (apparently done to showcase Hedren) grows into some of Hitch's best. Ub Iwerks' amazing composite effects remain some of the best you'll ever see. The film forecast the dire nature-strikes-back genre of the 70's, and large swathes of the film were basically re-created for 1968's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and nearly every rip-off of that one to follow. 31 years later, a TV movie tried to sell itself as a sequel, though from what minimal -and very hazy- memories I have of it, it was really more of a remake. You could argue AIP's 1972 release FROGS was basically a remake with different animals. Of course, if you were going to say that, you could say it of dozens of 70's killer animal movies. "THE BIRDS is coming!"