We're coming back with a Hallowe'en special this October, Alfred Hitchcock's terrifying The Birds, based on the Daphne du Maurier story of the same name. For this chair-grippingly intense screening, we'll be joined by Simon Savidge, journalist and book-blogger extraordinaire, who will tell us a bit about Hitchcock, Du Maurier, and how they both managed to make birds so scary.
Du Maurier is perhaps known best for her dark love story Rebecca (which Hitchcock also made into a film), but she was a prolific writer who published more than three dozen works of fiction and non-fiction during her lifetime. She was a bestseller and hugely popular with readers, but it is only in recent years that she has begun to receive the critical esteem she craved while alive. "The Birds", first published in 1952 as story in a collection entitled The Apple Tree, tells the story of a farmer in the West Country whose family begin suddenly and inexplicably being attacked by birds. It has been described by the Guardian as a "masterpiece".
Hitchcock's adaptation of the novelette—which moves the setting from Cornwall to California, and changes the characters significantly—was released on March 28, 1963. Though it received mixed reviews from critics at the time, it quickly became one of the top 20 grossing films of the year and has since gained icon status in the classic horror movie genre. And the disturbing story of its production—and especially Hitchcock's relationship with the lead actress, Tippi Hedren—has also been a source of fascination until today; an HBO film about the making of The Birds and Hithcock's bizarre direction was released as recently as 2012.