Scooter’s Top 4 Favorite Halloween Movies: Terrors from Above! Vinny’s Feathers are Ruffled!
This Halloween, let’s succumb to the stories of legendary flying beasts and delight in the chills they give us. While we know they’re balderdash (Scooter’s new favorite word…) one must admit that these stories do successfully creep us out and, while they may be far-fetched, they make for a great night on our favorite couch, with the blankets tucked under our chins and popcorn at the ready! So, sit back, dim the lights… grab some extra-artery clogging-buttered Redenbacher’s and enjoy the fun as WBU Clearwater/Safety Harbor’s resident film critic, Scooter, brings us this list of four of his favorite spine-tingling Halloween movies with birds and other flying creepers as their main characters.
“The Birds” Alfred Hitchcock, 1963: Of course, the obvious would be Hitchcock’s, “The Birds” with Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor. Set in the California coastal village of Bodega Bay, and besieged by savage attacks from wild birds above, this film captures the sense of the unassuming. Although classically (nearly historically) assumed that Hitchcock wrote this tale himself, the story was actually derived from a slightly older (1952) short story of the same name, written by suspense author, Daphne du Maurier and included in her book of short stories titled, “The Apple Tree”, which was later republished under the heading, “The Birds and Other Stories”.
In his film, Hitchcock brought to life the uneasy sense that so many of us have about nature in general. That to assume its gentle intent is always the case, even when its natural process is interrupted by consistent intrusion. In both the story and the film, a clear reason for why these normally docile birds decided to wage a horrific attack on the humans below is absent. Some surmise that this was Hitchcock’s intent all along; to leave the mystery of nature to its own devices in order to ensure we, as humans, tread lightly upon its domain. Ooooor… maybe it’s just a good scare-fest!!! Either way, “The Birds” –du Maurier’s story or Hitchcock’s interpretation- leaves a chilling resonance when our balmy clouds crawl along Florida’s full and bright moon and the birds bleat their echoes outside!!
“The Dark Half”, Stephen King, 1993: In King’s suspenseful tale of a writer dragged into a vengeful game of cat and mouse, birds are made to be the rescuers; taking the dead back to whence they came! Timothy Hutton plays mild-mannered but slightly haunted writer, Thad Beaumont, who found more success as a writer using a pseudonym than his own name and writing style. Little did he know that a surgery done when he was just a boy produced a likened being bent on taking over Thad’s life and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Whereas many stories rely on somewhat clichéd’ ideas of birds; crows perched on tree limbs, buzzards delving into bodily cavities… that sort of thing, “The Dark Half” draws attention to birds in the stance of native American legend. A legend of birds as psychopomps; escorting the souls of the dead to where they belong, is used as a refreshing and original basis for part of this nerve-burning mystery.
And on a more campy horror note:
“Kaw”, Sheldon Wilson, 2007: Well, if “camp” is your thing (along with Hot Pockets and those Japanese anime films…), you’ll like “Kaw”. Set alongside a Mennonite village, Kaw reaches for fact in its attempt to link mad cows with avian drama. As ravens up and decide that human appendages make for a far tastier meal than a road-ravaged carrion… the star, played by actor Sean Patrick Flanery, is left to his own devices (on his last day of work as the town’s Sherriff, no less) to help rid his small hamlet of its infected ravens. With a cameo by Rod Taylor of Hitchcock’s “The Birds” fame, Kaw tilts its nearly comical hat towards the past in its attempt to recreate the death-from-the-skies genre so aptly done by its predecessor. However, with its blend of not-too-shabby CGI, live action birds (no birds were harmed in the making of Kaw… although we are left to worry about the actors’ reputations…) and obvious gore, it doesn’t quite catch the suspense aspect. But, eh! WBU Clearwater/Safety Harbor’s pal Scooter says it’s a fun romp through escapism with a good friend beside you and some cheap wine in a wobbly glass.
“Q”, Larry Cohen, 1982: Not quite a bird but based on the mythical winged creature known as Quetzalcoatl, “Q” adds a bit of Hollywood flair to the age-old genre of things that grab us from above. With actors easily recognized in that decade -including Michael Moriarty, David Carradine and Richard Roundtree- Q offers its audience a blend of interesting mythical legend and B-movie standards, familiar in the 80’s. When the NYPD is faced with a rash of “flying lizard” sightings, they attribute it to simple hysterics (it is, after all, New York…) but when the bodies begin to pile up, the plot thickens like peanut butter suet and the B-movie fun begins!! Q is a fun alternative to the somewhat surprisingly low-brow horror-on-a-dime movies becoming prevalent today (Hello, Sharknado …) with its list of recognizable actors and not too shabby special effects, the fact that Q is refreshingly staged in a major metro area and is based on a real legend of a flying creature makes it all the more creepy and leaves one to remember that even a legend… has its origins in reality.
So, here they are. Scooter’s favorite Halloween fright films! Is he helping to propagate a lie while indulging in this outrageous propaganda? Or, are they simply innocent answers to a genre enjoyed by the masses and so, supplied by the talented individuals who can exemplify it? Eh, Scooter and Vinny opt for the latter. With their chills and thrills and spine-wrenching moments meant to bring us out of our sometimes cool and comfy shells, scary movies profiling flying things out to get us, bring us closer to understanding the fragility of ourselves and our spot in this wonderful natural world. They offer a small reminder, no matter its outrageous plot, that sometimes… just sometimes, things that we consider small and docile “lessers” are actually… just waiting in the wings -literally- for that perfect moment… to put us in our place. Get that WBU seed and suet ready to distract them!!!
“Hello, Scooter…. May I have some fava beans and a nice…Chiantiiiii, please…??? Pfftpfpfpfpfp…”