"And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!"—Edgar Allan Poe
In the new horror mystery The Raven, John Cusack plays Edgar Allan Poe in the last days of his life as he tries to help the police catch a serial killer who is copying the murders in Poe's macabre tales and has kidnapped Poe's fiancée and buried her alive. There is no raven sitting above Poe's chamber door in The Raven, but Cusack does quote Poe's most famous poem in the film and there are plenty of the oil-black birds flapping around to give an appropriate air of dread.
If you can't make it to the theater to see The Raven this weekend, you can still fill your chamber with all kinds of fowl movies. The raven's close cousin appears in The Crow as the dark bird that resurrects murdered musician Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) so he can seek revenge for his death. When a witch (Bai Ling) discovers that Eric's strength is dependent on the crow's well being, feathers get ruffled in the film's final act.
When it comes to angry birds, none are meaner than the ones that create a feathered frenzy in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds in Northern California. Other avian frights on-screen include the red-eyed, titular monster that Natalie Portman transforms into—and won on Oscar portraying—in Black Swan, the vulture-like Skeksis in The Dark Crystal, Maleficent's crow in the animated Sleeping Beauty, and even a lovebird that attacks a family before exploding in a feathery fireball in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge.
The most sickening of all the angry-bird movies has to be Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead—a musical comedy-horror by Troma that is a satire of the fast-food industry and features a Jersey fried-chicken joint under attack by chicken-possessed zombie demons.
While angry birds are go-to subjects for horror, some cinematic birds flex their drumsticks in more heroic roles. Michelle Pfeiffer is cursed by a corrupt bishop to spend her days as the eponymous hawk always by Rutger Hauer's side in Ladyhawke. In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf escapes from Saruman's tower by hitching a ride on the giant eagle Gwaihir, so imagine how much shorter the trilogy would have been if someone asked Gwaihir to fly Frodo to Mount Doom. Harry Potter had a loyal snowy owl named Hedwig that gave up her life for her master in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part I. Also, none can forget Bubo the mechanical owl in 1981's Clash of the Titans who is sent to aid Perseus on his quest.
One of the most under-appreciated avian opuses is Zack Snyder's animated feature Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, which features an all-out battle between two flocks of owls and features the voices of Jim Sturgess, Geoffrey Rush, Ryan Kwante, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving and many more. These angry birds can even fly out of your screen on Blu-ray 3D for those that give a hoot.