2. The Birds (1963)

The first horror film I ever saw, and still one of my absolute favourites. The Birds is such a work of art – all those Hitchcock devices like silence, skewed point-of-view etc really come together to turn a rather silly story into something absolutely mind-blowing. There are two things that make this movie stand out for me: one of them is the very shallow fact that I think Rod Taylor is one of the sexiest men ever to step in front of a camera. The other is a little more serious: The Birds is one of those films that changes for ever the way you look at the world. I know that birds will never gang up on humans, but you still come away from this movie with the tantalising idea that the natural world is inherently hostile to humans. the birds B8I love thinking about that as I trip merrily along a country lane, or feed the dicky birds in my back garden. Watching The Birds recently on DVD I was struck again by how exciting it is: there’s no long, tedious build-up, the funny business starts almost immediately after the wonderful flirtation scene in the pet shop, and once the horror begins it has the momentum of a runaway truck. The casting is perfect, the set pieces (‘Run, children, run!) unforgettable, and the final half hour defies description. In fact, I love The Birds so much that, having written this, I’ve just moved it several places up the list.

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