31 Horror Films #21 The Birds 1963 Dir. Alfred Hitchcock

Last year I did a series of daily micro blogs going through the history of horror films by year. This was meant to give people an example of the high points of the genre. This year I'll be doing the same thing, but going off the beaten path to provide some films you may not have heard of. These films may not be up your alley, but they're all interesting.

The Birds 1963 Dir. Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock is cited for being the "master of suspense", which is true, but as previously mentioned words like "suspense" and "thriller" carry with them a certain artistic cache that horror doesn't. Nevertheless, Hitch made some films that could be easily classified as horror, Psycho is without a doubt a horror film, Rear Window is a work of suspense, but carries with it shades of "Billy goats gruff" and "Blue Beard", and let us not forget, The Birds.

The Birds does a brilliant switcharoo with its audience, it begins as a romantic comedy would, with two attractive people meeting at a pet store, the flirty banter is there in spades and we catch ourselves wondering if they'll get together. The intrigue of romance leads Melanie Daniels (Tippie Hedren) to track down her would be gentleman Mitch (Rod Taylor) after their encounter at his place in Bodega Bay, California. This is a brilliant stroke as it establishes characters and sympathies right away . We want to see these two get together, and we're also mildly distracted by the romance, that by the time a birthday party is besieged by seagulls, we'd forgotten we were watching a Hitchcock film.

This film is filled with genuine moments of terror, dread and horror as Mitch and Melanie struggle to keep safe from the scrums of murderous birds. A scene in the local restaurant has the locals throwing out theories as to why this is happening, it's a scene that provides a bit of a break, but also gives us a rallying point. We the audience, question along with the characters, wondering what's going on and how far this phenomenon stretches.

The Birds is a slow burn of a film, but when the action starts the tension builds to the breaking point, resulting in a deliciously ambitious ending on part with the conclusion of Planet of the Apes.

Watch the trailer HERE