Bloody Birthday, how have you escaped me for this long? I love 80s horror, I dig slasher films, and who doesn’t love gratuitous nudity? The movie has all the elements of a surefire 80s B-rate gem, so how could I say “No” when Arrow Video was so generous enough to offer a blu-ray copy for AiPT! to review?
Made back in 1981, Bloody Birthday is centered around three kids that were born during a solar eclipse. Oddly enough the trio live in the same neighborhood and suddenly crave the urge to go around killing people the week before their birthdays. The 10-year-olds are a tight group consisting of two boys, Steven (Andrew Freeman), Curtis (Billy Jane), and one girl, Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy), who is clearly the leader of the group.
Their neighbors are Joyce (Lori Lethin) and her younger brother Timmy (K.C. Martel), who is the same age and goes to school with trio of bad seeds. At first look, they are your every day normal kids that dabble in mischief. The boys pay Debbie money to look through the peep hole in her closet as her older sister Beverly (MTV’s Julie Brown), changes her clothes. Typical 80s movie behavior, boys will be boys!
The killings begin with a couple making out at night in a cemetery. The girl is afraid someone will see them, so perhaps they should move to an open grave out of sight from others. Yup, open grave, right away you see the direction the film is going. Of course, they are brutally murdered. The boy gets a shovel to the face and the chick gets choked out.
The next day, Debbie’s father, Sheriff Brody is in the kids’ class asking if any of them was at the cemetery the previous night. At this point, I’m squinting trying to figure out if the movie is trolling me. Do parents in this town let their kids roam the cemetery at night? There doesn’t seem like much going on in town to have fun, but if the cemetery is the old stomping grounds, perhaps someone should build a Chuck E. Cheese.
I can only guess that the kids think Debbie’s father could stumble on to the fact that they killed the young couple in the cemetery, so Debbie sets up a skateboard hoping to trick her dad into stepping on it sending his ass down the back-porch steps. Oh, but the sheriff is a wily one and steps over it; prompting the kids to beat him in the head with a bat.
80s slasher at its worst! This film never quite picks up. Eventually Timmy knows what’s rotten in Denmark and tells his sister, Joyce, but she isn’t hearing any of it. Joyce finally figures out that Timmy might be on to something. But is it too late by then?
This was my first time viewing Bloody Birthday and I wasn’t too impressed. What is up with these kids waiting for the teenagers to get naked before killing them? Even for the 80s, this was a weird decision. There are plenty of kills and plenty of nudity. And the acting is laughable, but I wasn’t going in expecting any Oscar caliber performances.
The most creative kill is the use of a bow and arrow. And it was hard for me to swallow seeing a 10 year old hold a full-size revolver popping caps like he’s a gangster with no kick at all. I think I laughed more than anything. These kids aren’t Damien. They aren’t terrifying; they just don’t have that “look”. Maybe that was the intention of director, Ed Hunt, but it horribly backfires. It’s hard to be scared if the killers aren’t intimidating.
The plot is so dense. The kids decided to wake up and start killing. There’s no motive. The reason is based on Jupiter not be aligned during the eclipse, so they lack emotion, or some garbage like that. But at their birthday, they seem to be happy as hell! So there’s a big foul ball on that whole emotion twist.
Overall, I have seen much much worse than Bloody Birthday. I say every horror flick is worth a watch, because horror is such a mixed genre on its own. This film could certainly be your jam. Unfortunately, it was not mine. I did like seeing Julie Brown, I found it amusing that she would show off as much as her body as she did. But this was one of her first gigs, money is money, I suppose. I get that the film is considered a staple in the history of slashers, but it’s a miss for me. So if watching boring, bland kids killing horned up teenagers in a lackluster way is your bag, then you just might want to check out Bloody Birthday!
Bloody Birthday Special Edition Blu-Ray breakdown:
Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original Uncompressed mono audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Brand new audio commentary with director Ed Hunt
Brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues
Brand new interview with actress Lori Lethin
Bad Seeds and Body Counts a brand new video appreciation of Bloody Birthday and the killer kid sub-genre by film journalist Chris Alexander
Archival interview with producer Max Rosenberg
Original Theatrical Trailer
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