In between giving candy to the neighbor’s kids you movie buffs might want to watch a film on Halloween. You have your favorites. We have ours.

Joe’s not much into horror films but his favorite scary movie IS a classic, The Birds. He finds that Alfred Hitchcock film more frightening than any so called “slasher” flick.

The master of suspense really hit the mark with this one. If you haven’t seen The Birds lately, give it a whirl.  Recently the 1963 movie’s been getting some publicity since there’s a new film out on HBO about Hitch and his “supposed” obsession with the star of The Birds, Tippi Hedron.

Hedron, known today mostly as the mother of Melanie Griffith, was a model back in the late 50s.  She was Hitchcock’s choice to replace Grace Kelly, who’d bowed out of movies after pressure from the folks in Monaco, who didn’t think it seemly for their princess to be working. Hedron only made two films with Hitchcock.  She’s dreadful in Marnie, but passable in The Birds.  They, after all, are the real stars.

There are many things to admire about The Birds, including the special effects that impressed audiences long before GCI became part of Hollywood’s technological vocabulary.

Frank likes the fact that Hitchcock had the good sense to cast Charles McGraw, the toughest of the tough guys in Forties film noirs, as a grizzled skipper who scoffed at doom-and-gloom reports about those incoming birds. (He learned the hard way).

Just for laughs you might check out Mel Brook’s High Anxiety, which spoofs several Hitchcock titles including The Birds. In one chase scene, flying nasties pursue and drop you-know-what upon a fleeing Brooks. Upon its 1977 release, High Anxiety was billed as “a psycho comedy.”

A bit of a scaredy cat, Frank avoids contemporary horror movies post 1974’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (which he liked). Still, there are two movies that frightened the dickens out of him, and that he still can’t bring himself to watch.

One is a classic, the only movie that actor Charles Laughton ever directed.  It’s 1955’s Night of the Hunter, in which a deranged preacher (Robert Mitchum) threatens an old woman (Lillian Gish) and two children.  The movie is beautifully shot, beautifully acted and scary as hell. Be sure to watch it in daytime.

Mitchum reappears once more — this time as a vengeful ex-con seeking to wipe out the family of an upright Florida lawyer (Gregory Peck) — in 1962’s Cape Fear.  The movie was remade in 1991 by director Martin Scorsese with Robert DeNiro taking  the Mitchum role. Skip the remake and take a look at the original. It is a marvelously grueling picture, and one that you should see — once.

 

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