The Birds (1963)


It’s time to take things back, way back to 1963 with some classic Hitchcock. The Birds is about birds that attack people for literally no reason. This movie starts out extremely slow, taking almost 20 minutes for things to really get going. When they do get going, there are some very interesting suspenseful scenes, but the bird effects are just too old to be taken seriously. I love when Melanie is sitting in the school yard and it keeps cutting back and forth between her and the playground with more and more birds showing up each cut. Any of the scenes with a massive amount of real birds just standing around preparing to attack was pretty suspenseful. I’m still wondering how they managed to get so many birds to stay still for so long. It’s impressive for any movie, let alone a movie from 50 years ago.

Sadly, as cool as those scenes were, the scenes with the bird effects were equally as bad. I know, I know… this is from 1963 so I shouldn’t have expected amazing effects, but I couldn’t stop laughing. The characters are clearly swatting at nothing and the blood was that unrealistic light red color. It’s a shame, but it was hard for me to find this scary or thrilling just because it was so old.

The effects are just a product of their time and there isn’t much that can be done about that, but story is something that could transcend time if done well. This story, however, ends with no explanation and was one of the most frustrating endings I’ve seen in months. It felt like it was building up to something, and then it just showed the end credits and I’m left wondering why the hell the birds attacked in the first place. They kept hinting that somehow the love birds Melanie brought might be involved, or Melanie herself might be the cause and then it amounted to nothing. Not only do we not find out, but after being attacked by birds, Cathy still wants to bring the love birds with them… and Mitch agrees! They’ve just been attacked by birds and people have died, but they’re still fine with taking birds with them.

On top of the dated effects and lack of story, the acting is so hot and cold. The mother has an amazing scene where she opens up to Melanie about why she doesn’t like Mitch dating women, but it’s contrasted with a mostly wooden performance from Melanie. I’m almost starting to think Melanie is the reason why the birds are attacking because she doesn’t seem to even care what’s happening. They find Annie dead and Cathy is telling the story through so many tears she can barely talk… while Melanie looks on with no expression on her face. At least Mitch looks somewhat concerned about what’s going on, and the rest of the supporting cast does a good enough job. It’s just a shame that I found the main character so uninteresting and boring.

I’d say to give this one a watch at least once since it’s such a classic, but it really isn’t that great of a movie and it certainly doesn’t stand the test of time for me. Think I’ll skip this one in next year’s horror movie binge month.

Verdict: 6.8/10 Needs more real birds

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