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  Beaks: The Movie Coo!
Year: 1987
Director: René Cardona Jr
Stars: Christopher Atkins, Michelle Johnson, Sonia Infante, Salvador Pineda, Gabriele Tinti, Aldo Sambrell, Nené Morales, Manuel Pereyro, Carol Connery, Carole James, May Heatherly, Pinar Brescia
Genre: Horror, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  2 (from 2 votes)
Review: Vanessa Cartwright (Michelle Johnson) is a television reporter who today is covering a story just outside Madrid with her boyfriend and camerman Peter (Christopher Atkins), which is all about the pigeon-shooting talents of Arthur Neilson (Aldo Sambrell). He is so adept at executing the birds with his shotgun that he is demonstrating doing so blindfolded, which the camera duly captures, and the otherwise unimpressed Vanessa and Peter head back to the office where their boss has a new assignment: a farmer who has been attacked by his own chickens. Could there be a pattern forming here?

If you ever watched the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds and thought, wait a minute, this is way too professional for me, I need something barely competent, then Mexican exploitation impresario René Cardona Jr's Beaks: The Movie would be just the entertainment for you. Not so much an unofficial sequel to the classic horror as it was a complete rip-off, it followed essentially the same pattern: our feathered friends take it into their birdbrains that what humankind really needs is wave upon wave of vengeance courtesy of their own bad selves, although what you mostly see here are a huge amount of pigeons getting thrown at the hapless cast members, presumably because they were more available than any other bird.

And safer to work with, for that matter, not being the most aggressive of creatures never mind the plethora of scenes where we get closeups of the cooing monsters pecking bloodily away at various actors and actresses, all of which was intended to set the pulses racing. Or more likely, set the laughter ringing in the ears of all those involved, for where Hitchcock could generate suspense and fear with his version of events, such skills were beyond Cardona who lifted stretches of the sixties original without any apparent idea of what made them so successful. Throw more gore at it, was his solution to the problem that he was far from the filmmaker the master of thriller cinema was, and the results were ludicrous - and painful, if you were a bird lover (a few really do get shot here).

One thing that this director did was hop around the world to make this appear the bird attacks were a global phenomenon; although a Mexican-Spanish co-production he also visited Peru and Rome (plenty of pigeons there, see) for his setpieces, and took in bunches of characters who barely knew each other if at all, leaving an inescapably patchwork feel to the movie. As for our stars - they speak English, the others are dubbed - Atkins was still in his teen pin-up phase which works like this would soon put paid to, and Johnson was evidently enduring some kind of penance for making her debut in Blame It on Rio, although unlike in that film she used a body double for her nude scenes here, because Atkins was no Michael Caine so probably wasn't worth getting naked for.

Christopher, as if realising this, commiserates with his penis when Peter and Vanessa's lovemaking is interrupted before they can even get going: sharing a bubble bath is about as far as they go. But the plague of avian assassins will not wait and they have to cover the latest assaults, which include that farmer being nicked by a canary, Neilson having his eye pecked out by a hawk, a pair of hang gliders set upon by an eagle, but mostly pigeons, pigeons and more pigeons. Making its contemporary in revenge of nature misfires Slugs seem sensible in comparison, you get lines like Atkins' exclamation "These birds really know what they're doing!", constant distractions from the two leads to concentrate on Neilson's granddaughter's birthday party and a bickering family at the beach, and all the fake blood and slow motion you could want from an impoverished production punching considerably above its weight. So yes, it was garbage, but at least you could get a few cheap laughs from its ineptitude. Music by Stelvio Cipriani.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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