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13

The Birds (1963)

Alfred Hitchcock was a real SOB (for one thing, he killed Boris Karloff's Thriller) and he was proud of the fact that he treated actors "like cattle". Say what you will about the man, though, he knew how to turn out a psychological horror film, and The Birds is an absolute masterpiece of the genre. From the IMDb:

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.

There are a few fleeting graphic scenes, but the real horror is in the mystery of why the birds attack as they do (it is never explained) and in the pervasive fear of the hapless and helpless humans involved. While the whole film is, surprisingly, available on YouTube (for now) and is embedded below, I also include first what is one of the greatest scenes in the history of cinema. If you've never seen the film, and I don't imagine that many Neatoramanauts have, then buckle up; it's going to be a rough two hours. FWIW, this is my wife's favorite film, and she hates horror films.

The School Scene - a masterpiece in direction and editing.


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This is one of the most terrifying movies ever, and it has hardly any graphic violence or blood. The fact that nobody learns exactly why the birds attacked makes it all the more unnerving.
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