Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” was inspired by an actual bird attack in California


Alfred Hitchcock is a famous Oscar-winning horror filmmaker who made his name as a master of suspense. It is his unique take on horror and stylistic camera work that earned him this title. Hitchcock is considered one of the most prolific filmmakers in Hollywood history.

He won 46 Academy nominations and six victories. Hitchcock is best known for Psychosis and The birds. Hitchcock’s style of horror is much more nuanced than many of today’s horror films, but that doesn’t make his films any less gruesome.

‘The Birds’ | Universal Studios / Getty Images

In fact, one of his most famous films was inspired by a real event. Knowing that done The birds even scarier, to say the least.

The real and spooky inspiration for ‘The Birds’

Moviegoers were terrified of Hitchcock’s genius movie, The birds, as they watched a young couple see their lives turned upside down as a small northern town is suddenly attacked by all kinds of birds. The attacks increase in number and cruelty as the film progresses.

It’s a scary premise for anyone. How can seemingly harmless birds start killing humans who love them? What makes it even scarier is that the premise is inspired by real events.

International business time reports that The birds was based on a short story of the same name written by Daphne Du Marier in 1952. However, Hitchcock also showed interest in an actual event that occurred in Monterey, Calif., in 1961.

Residents of Monterey Bay have reported huge flocks of seabirds rushing towards their homes. This incident pissed off residents and took place just two years before the film’s release. No one could explain why the birds behaved this way, and Hitchcock never explains the behavior of birds in his film either.

It is believed that the reason the birds acted the way they did was because they were poisoned. When the stomach contents of the mad birds were examined, it was discovered that there was toxic algae on the plankton they were eating. These algae can cause amnesia, disorientation and seizures.

In the 1960s there was a real estate boom and toxic agents from the septic tanks may have leaked out. These toxic agents could poison algae and then be transmitted to birds.

How Hitchcock recreated the scene of the attack

With inspiration from a real-life mad bird attack on his mind, Hitchcock had to figure out how to recreate the scenes from the film. The final special effects results earned Hitchcock an Oscar nomination.

Unfortunately, it was Cleopatra who won the Oscar for Special Effects. What did Hitchcock use for his birds? Hitchcock did a lot of work using a combination of computer graphics and mechanical birds. He also trained hundreds of live birds to perform on camera.

Shocking Truth From Filming ‘The Birds’

Tippi Hedren, who plays the main character in The birds, had a very intense and apparently abusive relationship with Alfred Hitchcock. People reports Hedren’s account of filming with Hitchcock from his memoir, Tippi. She talks about several stressful and haunting moments during filming and even some inhumane conditions she was forced to endure.

One incident, in particular, is particularly heartbreaking. It was the famous “bedroom scene” in The birds where his character suffers a vicious attack from the frenzied birds. Hedren was promised by the filmmaker that he would use mechanical birds.

However, she was informed on the day of filming by the assistant director that the mechanical birds were not working and that they should use real birds instead. It was the last day of filming when live birds were loosely attached to Hedren as she lay on the ground.

When “Action! Was said, the birds literally started pecking at her and the bird hunters hurled live birds directly at her. The scene was so traumatic for the actor that a doctor ordered him to take a week off, even though Hitchcock fought the rest order by saying he needed her for the shoot. The scene was also very traumatic for the film crew.

It just shows why The birds is a horrible movie, even to this day. The horror on the main character’s face is indeed very real and this translates well for the audience who wants to taste a real horror movie.

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