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NOVEMBER 26 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)
From retroslashers.net

Let's face it, little kids are terrifying. Seriously, just raising a rugrat can be a daunting experience. So imagine that your offspring has no sense of right from wrong? Or worse yet, what if they knew and just didn't care?

That is the question of the day in Bloody Birthday. It's an unlikely, yet well told tale about three children (Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jacoby and Andy Freeman) from the same town, born at the same moment under a lunar eclipse. Somehow, moved by the tide and the moon, they have no conscience (just run with it guys) and turn out to be some screwed up tykes. Flash ahead to their tenth birthday and these kids are planning a black celebration that will take the town's population down a notch or two. Enter Joyce Russel (Lori Lethin), a teenager obsessed with astrology and her ten year old brother Timmy (K.C. Martel) who soon becomes aware of the bratty evil doings and attempt to stop them before its too late!

It's a shame that this film didn't make much of an impact during its initial release, since Bloody Birthday is a fun little popcorn movie that threw a few curveballs into the slasher pool. Child killers were (and still are) a reasonably taboo subject, with a few exceptions (The Bad Seed and Village of the Damned come to mind). Filmmakers generally steered clear of the dark side of children. It's a great topic for horror and director Ed Hunt (The Brain) explores it in all of its exploitable glory. These kids are cold-blooded. Watch as pretty Hoy lures her father out of the house where he unknowingly trips over a precariously placed skateboard. In the tensest scene, the trio of killers lock Timmy in an abandoned freezer.

Bloody Birthday also has some high caliber nudity thanks to the beautiful MTV star, (Just Say) Julie Brown, twisted murders and, believe it or not, good actors. Some prestigious names appear in glorified cameos like Joe Penny, Susan Strasberg and Jose Ferrer, but Lori Lethin who was a staple of low-budget horror in the 80s (The Prey, Return to Horror High) is the real star and makes for a likeable heroine. The three murderous kids chillingly reflect the hearts of malicious killers, but even more disturbing is the fact that K.C. Martel would go to play Boner on Growing Pains! Blink and you'll miss Michael Dudikoff in a thankless role too.

A testament of a time when all the audience wanted was some of the red stuff splashed across the screen, no matter what age the killer, Blood Birthday deserves a second shot. I recommend double-billing this with the ludicrous but equally enjoyable The Children.


NOVEMBER 26 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)
From coolasscinema.com

The Short Version: This repugnant, ugly little 83 minute exploitation wonder is incredibly brazen in its depiction of children butchering adults. Not only that, but these creepy little 10 year old devils also display an interest in sex whether watching a woman do a strip tease in front of her mirror, or killing a horny couple, this is possibly the most disturbing representation of child murderers the screen has ever seen.

In Meadowvale, California, three children are born simultaneously on June 9th, 1970 during a solar eclipse. Ten years later, a series of bizarre and brutal murders occur in Meadowvale and it is soon discovered that the killings are perpetrated by three seemingly innocent 10 year old children, the same three born during the solar eclipse ten years prior.

Utterly tasteless killer kid movie from the early 80's is one of the most shocking of its kind. Very little is left to the imagination where these murderous youngsters are concerned. It's an occasionally nauseating horror flick unusually well made by obscure director, Ed Hunt. There had been a fair number of terrible tyke movies both before and after, but Hunt's movie is arguably the best of the more sadistic exploitation movies of this subgenre.

BLOODY BIRTHDAY follows a similar trajectory of an earlier movie entitled DEVIL TIMES FIVE (1974), but outdoes it in the violence department. MIKEY from 1992 featured a sole homicidal child and was equally disturbing. Most recently, a suspensefully gruesome independent movie called THE CHILDREN (2009) comes off as something of an unacknowledged remake of DEVIL TIMES FIVE. While violent in its depiction of children murdering their neighbors, BLOODY BIRTHDAY is particularly nasty as a good amount of time is spent with these killers plotting who they will kill next and how they will execute their victims.

What makes BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981) stand out from the pack of explicit movies featuring pint sized savages is that not only do this terrible triumvirate calculate and plot the murder of their parents and others in the neighborhood, but they also are preoccupied with sex! They watch Julie Brown (from the late 80's MTV program, JUST SAY JULIE) do an extended strip tease in front of a mirror after her baby sister (one of the killers) has them pay to peek through a peep hole in a closet! Another scene has Curtis (who does the bulk of the murders) watching a young couple have sex in a van before brutally (and happily) executing them with a revolver.

The three tiny terrors aren't exclusive to cutting down adults, they also have no qualms about butchering kids their own age. They spend nearly the entire movie trying to snuff out Timmy, a boy from their class, who is unable to convince any of the adults that several of his classmates are trying to kill him. Another scene plays with audience perception where Curtis apparently tries to kill everyone at his birthday party by putting insect poison in the icing used to make his cakes. The one adult who believes something is seriously wrong with Curtis tries to halt anyone from eating the cake with disastrous results.

In addition to all the bloody murders, the script occupies itself with astrology and the apparent dangers of being born during a solar eclipse. However, the script is weak in establishing the presence of law enforcement. Granted, we see the police from time to time, but there's veritably little in the way of some kind of investigation. Also, Jose Ferrer's role isn't as strong as it could be. He's barely in the movie, but with a little more of his character, this could have went a long way in balancing out the reprehensible nature of the film. However, the script is strong in showcasing these three children as the epitome of pure evil. Who would ever suspect them?

Even with some decent performances and an occasionally riveting script, the film is far too revolting to gain any respectability from anyone other than fans of lowest common denominator entertainment (of which I am one). In light of everything that has happened since with the rampant violence within the nations school systems, I seriously doubt a film like this could get by today with being this graphic. Ed Hunt's movie has no qualms about showing these three pint sized serial killers as they go about executing people who pose a threat, or are just random victims. Treating murder as a playful game, these killer kids are cognizant of their actions and show no remorse even towards their own families.

Child actor, Billy Jacoby will be instantly recognizable to fans of 80's movies and television programs. He had roles as young Dar in THE BEASTMASTER, the son of a doomed family in the gory low budget favorite, SUPERSTITION (both 1982) and in other horror fare like CUJO and NIGHTMARES (both 1983). He totally sells his role as the sadistic serial killer no one would suspect. From his facial expressions and attitude, he's successful at making the audience hate Curtis Taylor.

Amidst such questionable subject matter, the production was able to attract a couple key names. Susan Strasberg was an actress of some repute. She has a small guest appearance here as a doomed school teacher. She also starred in another prime slice of exploitation heaven in THE MANITOU (1978). Oscar winning actor, Jose Ferrer plays the doctor who suspects something may be seriously wrong with the three children. Also, Michael Dudikoff, later to become a star after appearing in the hit cannon movie, AMERICAN NINJA (1985), plays the boyfriend of Beverly, Debbie's normal sibling. The music is also spot on and recalls the familiar Harry Manfredini music from the iconic FRIDAY THE 13th series as well as a hint of James Horner's work for Roger Corman movies.

There are also several exceptionally captured suspense sequences wrapped up in this tasteless buffet of cherubic mayhem. The score by Arlon Ober (EATING RAOUL, HOSPITAL MASSACRE) helps punctuate many of the movies most harrowing sequences. There's also quite a lot of gratuitous nudity that only adds to the less than wholesome atmosphere of this film. Ed Hunt may not have done much of particular note during his career, but BLOODY BIRTHDAY is one sick puppy of a horror flick that, despite its flaws, doesn't deserve to languish in a pool of obscurity. Get your horror hound buddies together, blow out the candles and enjoy an 83 minute slice of BLOODY BIRTHDAY cake.


NOVEMBER 26 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)
From cinesploitation.com

At the exact second of a total solar eclipse three children are born; Curtis, Steven and Debbie. According to astrology, during the eclipse the moon was blocking Saturn, the planet that supposedly controls emotion, from the Earth. Therefore these three kids were born completely devoid of a conscience. Now ten years later the three elementary school rugrats have suddenly turned into sadistic, bloodthirsty, homicidal killers. The trio of terrible tykes opportunistically pick off random people in the neighborhood but can’t seem to seal the deal with Timmy and his protective big sister Joyce. As the body count rises, Joyce begins noticing that the ringleader Curtis is acting strangely but when she calls him out, no one believes her. Can Timmy and Joyce stay alive long enough to convince someone or will they feel the wrath of the psychotic astrological siblings?

The horror website eplatter.com is quoted on the cover of Bloody Birthday as saying “There is no doubt that this movie could not be made today”. I wholeheartedly agree with that summation. It’s a movie about ultra-violent children gleefully beating, shooting and strangling people, all with a hard “R” rating. While there isn’t a lot of guts and grue, they don’t skimp on the brutal violence and nudity. You barely get 4 minutes in before you see the first boob. And it’s not just sex and nudity exclusive of the kids; Debbie makes Steven and Curtis pay her to peep at her older sister (played by a young, hot and perky Julie Brown) strip nude in her bedroom, and she also watches as big sis makes out with a boy. Perverted little Curtis climbs up on the front of a van that’s parked on the side of the road and watches a young couple have sex before blasting them with a stolen handgun. These kids make the original “Bad Seed” Rhoda Penmark look like Pollyanna.

Written and direction by Ed Hunt, Bloody Birthday is a wonderful time capsule of the late ’70s and early ’80s. The teased up, permed hair, the clothes and giant headphones take me back to the days of watching Marilyn McCoo on the TV show Solid Gold. But Hunt doesn’t play anything on screen for a laugh. The kids are cute but sinister and have nothing but bad intentions, seemingly for no reason other than that they were born that way. This “killer kid” slasher-type movie is a nearly forgotten classic for sure, but Severin Films has saved it from obscurity by giving it the high definition treatment from the “original vault elements”. The picture looks fantastic with only one flaw that an amateur like me could spot; at about the 58:30 mark the color suddenly becomes saturated in a film where they are pretty muted throughout. The sound is also a dull mono soundtrack that maybe could have used a little dressing up but the dialogue is clear enough to not be annoying.


NOVEMBER 26 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)
From wildsidecinema.com

Three children born at the same time, in the same place, during a solar eclipse are delivered to their parents without souls. Years later these soulless elementary school monsters waste no time preparing for their upcoming group birthday party by brutally murdering townsfolk! When a teacher’s assistant and her younger brother stumble upon the truth behind the slayings, the three slashers-in-training decide to silence them before their horrifying deeds can be discovered.

Remember when every slasher film you saw, as a child, was the best slasher film you ever saw? Each and every one was better than the last and you couldn’t wait to tell your friends about the copious amounts of gore and nudity you’d just subjected yourself to. The VHS box art sitting on the shelves at your local video rental outlet promised big kills, big breasts and gallons of gore and, for the most part, that’s exactly what you received. There wasn’t much to them, just the tried and true slasher film formula of “Psychopath + Mask + Weapon + Victims = Mindless Entertainment,” and that was just fine with you. Am I right?

If the above applies to you, you are going to dig Severin’s release of Bloody Birthday. While I certainly can’t say Bloody Birthday is a good film, that’s completely subjective, I can say that it requires few brain cells, a passion for late-night cable slasher fare and a cult cinema geek’s passion for cameos (Michael Dudikoff & José Ferrer!). If that doesn’t sound like enough reasons to check this release out, you’d be dead wrong! Severin Films hook up a beautiful transfer and some interesting special features including an audio interview with the director, an entertaining video interview with the lead actress, an informative featurette on slasher films, a few trailers and an Easter Egg (Happy Hunting!). While this can’t be considered a seminal entry into the slasher sub-genre or a hard-to-find rarity, the presentation is applaudable. If you already own this film, I’d say it’s time for an upgrade.

Considering Bloody Birthday’s low budget and vague supernatural angle, it’s not one of the worst films I’ve seen. The children all did admirably, the nudity was gratuitous and the production values, despite looking like a made-for-TV film-of-the-week, weren’t too hard on the eyes. It certainly hasn’t aged all that well but not all thirty year old films do. In the end, I enjoyed this and those of you that have seen it or enjoy slasher films just might too.


NOVEMBER 26 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)
From thespinningimage.co.uk

Bloody birthdays! I don’t know, I spend all my housekeeping on presents for you, and what do I get? Not even a bleedin’ thankyou! Well, OK, so you gave me a thankyou, but that’s not gonna buy me a bottle of gin and a game of bingo, is it? Jesus Christ, sometimes I wish I’d kept my drawers on! If I ever find out who your dad is, I’ll kill ‘im!

Yeah, I know that isn’t a particularly original opener but, then again, this isn’t a particularly original film, is it? If I didn’t use my brain watching it, then I sure as hell ain’t gonna use it to review it. Basically, this slasher flick (Oh, didn’t I mention? It’s a slasher!) tells the story of three little bastards who share the same birthday going on a killing spree – although on reflection I suppose it’s better than having them vandalising phone boxes and playing truant. You could be forgiven for thinking that this sudden killer instinct has something to do with all the genuine snuff movies and patriotic video games these sick sprogs have been exposed to, but in fact you’d be wrong. It’s all to do with their star-signs. Russell Grant’s got a lot to answer for!

As slashers go, this is particularly generic, not much different that about ten other movies from the same era. The nice, clean suburban setting means that sleaze is at a minimum, and its polished look makes it look like a TV movie – nothing to be proud of by any stretch of the imagination. One cannot deny that there is never a dull moment in Bloody Birthday, but all the exciting ones are pretty run-of-the-mill. There’s no gore either, with most victims being either strangled or beaten to death which is a bit of a con being as variety is the spice of flicks like this. And worst of all, there’s the “good-luck” aspect, where every five minutes or so someone comes within inches of being slaughtered only for somebody else to butt-in at the last minute and save them. It’s almost as if their futures were written in the stars....

But the real stars of Bloody Birthday are those bloody kids. They’re the most horrible set of anklebiters I’ve ever seen. When they look mean, it sends a shiver down your spine. When they start smiling it’s like a jellyfish has just crawled onto your grave and died there. If they were mine I would have put them in a sack and thrown them into the canal yonks ago! In fact, moral guardians everywhere will probably think all their bloody birthdays have come at once with this – definitely one for the Good Christian Shopping List…


NOVEMBER 26 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)
From fullmoonreviews.net

As I'm approaching the big 3-0 in 22 months, the thought of settling down and having a boat load of children becomes more of a possibility. Hell, seeing my friends having children would make any single guy with father and committment issues question when the time is right to unleash his wolf spawn to the world. Each and every day, I always tell myself: 'Yeah, I definitely want to bring children to this world. Nothing would make me happier.'

Then I watch a film like BLOODY BIRTHDAY and I change my mind about the whole 'kid' thing. Little bastards...

BLOODY BIRTHDAY is a lost early 80's suspense horror/thriller involving evil kids that do what they do best: KILL!!! Add a young [and naked] Julie Brown, cameos from Joe Penny, Jose Ferrer, and Michael fuckin' Dudikoff, and some weird astrology shit - and you get a strange little flick that's fun to watch. Octomom, watch out! This may be your life in a few years!

PLOT
On June 9, 1970, three women in Meadowvale, California give birth during a total solar eclipse. Since no one takes astrology all that seriously, they don't realize that when the moon and the sun block Saturn, kids are born without a conscience. No harm can come from that, right?

Ten years pass and these three children - Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy), Curtis (Billy Jayne), and Steven (Andy Freeman) - are the best of friends...WHO KILL! Forget tag and hide-and-seek. These kids like strangling people, shooting bitchy teachers in the head, smashing heads with a baseball bat, collecting news articles about the murders in a scrapbook, and looking to peepholes to see their friend's sister dance naked in her bedroom. Why couldn't I have friends like this growing up?

Anyway, some nosy little bastard named Timmy (K.C. Martel) notices these kids' behavior once certain members of the community end up being murdered right in their vacinity. This obviously paints a target on Timmy's ass, as well as his sister Joyce (Lori Lethin), who begins to notice the behavior as well. Will these evil hellspawn take over this town? Will Joyce, Timmy, and Lassie stop them?

What was that boy? You believe the children are the future?

What was that again? Teach them well and let them lead the way?

Oh Lassie, you really do know the greatest love of all...

REVIEW

BLOODY BIRTHDAY is honestly a film I was not at all expecting. I was expecting a really gory birthday party of sorts here, but you don't get that at all here. So yeah, the title is pretty misleading for the most part. But I got to say that evil children entertain the hell out of me so BLOODY BIRTHDAY pretty much won me over and left me with a smile on my face.

I will admit that the narrative isn't really the film's strong suit here. While interesting things do happen from time to time, BLOODY BIRTHDAY pretty much meanders over the course of days without any real point to it other than to showcase how evil these children are. Characters come and go, for reasons I really can't explain to you, that don't add much to the plot at all. As a matter of fact, some of these scenes could have been left out and not have hurt the film at all. Did we really need Joyce's college boyfriend popping up just to make out with her and incite this monologue about not wanting to go to college or something just for him to disappear for the rest of the film without a single mention? What's the point? People get murdered and it's like "whatever" sometimes, especially when these three kids have been at every crime scene. You get this explanation about how being born during a solar eclipse will prevent you from having a conscience, but it's all exposition and we're not really sure if that's even the real reason for their behavior. Maybe they had really fucked up parents! Maybe they woke up one day and realized that they're purpose in life is to write reviews for really crappy films as they cry away to sleep! It could have been a lot of things. More background about the astrological portion of the film would have been appreciated.

Also, I was figuring this would lead to the goriest birthday party next to HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, but I got the total opposite! No one died during the birthday party. It was the most non-violent portion of the film! False advertisement and the Wolf doesn't like false advertisements! Boo to you for getting my hopes up, BLOODY BIRTHDAY!

Still, I can't help to be entertained by this film. The three villains of the film are pretty nasty and actually take pleasure in knowing that. What to see Debbie's sister naked through the peephole? Pay her a dime to see boobs and a quarter to see the full monty. Hate that teacher who takes her anger out on you because she ain't gettin' any? Shoot the bitch and stuff her in a closet! Disrespect authority, even if he is your father? Bash him with a baseball bat and make bacon out of him! Want to make sure there are no witnesses to your crimes? Try and run them over while wearing a sheet to look like a ghost? Michael Jackson does it all the time. Why can't you, right? These kids are pretty awesome and all have distinct personalities, making the murder scenes a lot of fun. And while they're brutal [8 people get killed in this film], they're not particularly bloody. But that's okay because you totally believe every sequence these children are in. They mean business and not once do you feel silly about the whole thing. The villains overshadow the protagonists/heroes of the film quite a bit, so I was rooting for these evil bastards. And it was a lot of fun doing so.

And you really can't complain when you get to see boobs. Especially Julie Brown's boobs. Very VERY nice, Julie. You also get some other ladies showing us their headlights as well, which I had absolutely no complaints about. As a matter of fact, they lit up my candle everytime they appeared. I could have done without that one dude's ass, but what can you do? I guess the ladies need to enjoy themselves too.

The direction by Ed Hunt was actually very good. I found the film to be well paced, even with these useless scenes intact. The killing scenes were full of tension and suspense, even though you knew what was gonna happen. They also weren't cut away from the actual acts either, allowing the viewer to see every part of the victim's demise. Hunt focuses on the characters and we get to know them pretty well through reaction shots and great editing. I have no complaints about the visuals. Ed Hunt gets two thumbs up from me.

The acting for BLOODY BIRTHDAY was surprisingly above average, which I appreciated. Even though Andy Freeman didn't do much as Steven, the other two child actors [Elizabeth Hoy and especially Billy Jayne] did a really bang-up job bringing evil to life as Debbie and Curtis. Hoy played the innocent little girl-next-door type, even though she was obviously the mastermind of the trio. Jayne played the brains of the group and probably the most evilest of the three, as he seemed to enjoy hurting people. I was totally convinced of their villainy and that's due to their great acting. K.C. Martel as Timmy was also credible as the good kid and played a nice foil to the evil trio. Lori Lethin didn't really impress me much as Joyce at the beginning, but once her character was being made to seem insane, I liked her acting more. Plus she was kind of cute too. Even hotter was Julie Brown, who showed us she was more than just a comedic actress. And by that, I mean I got to see her naked boobies and her fine ass. Whoo! Thank you, Ms. Brown! And of course we get cameos from Jake and The Fat Man's Joe Penny, Jose Ferrer, and AMERICAN NINJA's Michael Dudikoff. Not a bad cast at all.

THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE MAKING AN APPOINTMENT FOR A VASCETOMY

- Don't ever play "Ambulance" with your lover inside of a graveyard at night. When the date is over, the only game anyone will be playing is "Guess Who's Inside The Bodybag?" How morbidly fun!

- A cop asked a bunch of 10-year-olds, "What is murder?" I would have answered with 'forcing someone to watch a 24-hour marathon of The Hills and The City.' But then again, we're all different.

- Julie Brown stripped in front of a peephole for 2 horny young boys. EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY and thank God for it!

- The little kids bashed some cop's brains in with a baseball bat. Who needs steroids or Madonna when you can hit a homerun each time at bat before the age of 10?

- The little kids shot a bitchy teacher in the head. Talk about taking it in the face. And she didn't even teach sex education!

- One of the kids dressed up as a ghost and tried to run over Joyce with a car. Looks like the Phantom Racer strikes again!

- A couple having sex in the back of the van were shot in the face after they were done. I think these results were more effective than the actual shot the dude made with his "actual" gun. I'm not saying the dude was shooting blanks, but the look on the girl's face says otherwise.

- Debbie shot her sister dead with an arrow through the eye. Some people need to remember that arrows only work on Valentine's Day. Otherwise, you'll be giving love a bad name.

- Debbie invited Joyce to babysit her at 7pm, to which Joyce agreed to. Doesn't Joyce realize that bad things happen to babysitters? Doesn't this bitch watch horror movies?

- The kids shot through a 1980 Van Halen poster. Apparently they're Van Hagar fans.

THE FINAL HOWL
While deceptive in name and weak wise in plot, BLOODY BIRTHDAY still does enough to entertain and make watching young people kill fun to watch. Definitely worth a rental if you're into "Evil Kids" flicks like THE BAD SEED and THE VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED. Gorehounds will be disappointed but anyone looking for a suspenseful good time will get a kick out of this one.


NOVEMBER 26 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)
From twitchfilm.com

Emerging in April 1981, two and a half years after Halloween and less than one year after Friday the 13th jump-started the slasher movie craze in earnest, Bloody Birthday faced stiff competition in theaters, with Eyes of a Stranger, The Funhouse, The Burning, Final Exam, Just Before Dawn, Happy Birthday to Me, and sequels Friday the 13th Part 2 and Halloween II all staking claims to young audiences that year.

Yes, it was a glorious time to be a horror fan!

Bloody Birthday borrows its ingredients liberally from the hastily-developed slasher movie cookbook, but it owes its inspiration just as much to Village of the Damned and any number of other "killer kid" flicks. It's a movie that takes full advantage of the freedoms of the time, as far as nudity and violence are concerned, while not being concerned one whit about social responsibility.

The setting is Meadowvale, a small town in California, that appears to be a lovely, respectable community. It's the kind of place where Mel Ferrer is a doctor who races to the hospital to deliver three babies during an eclipse in 1970. Ten years later, a boy and a girl are fooling around in a graveyard. As they kiss, and the boy lovingly strokes and begins to undress the girl, little do they realize that someone is watching them. When the boy romantically invites the girl to enjoy a little privacy in an open grave -- don't ask -- they learn that couples making love in the opening sequence of a slasher movie never live long.

Joyce (Lori Lethin) and her younger brother Timmy (K.C. Martel) are then introduced. Immediately we suspect that Joyce will be "final girl" because she looks wholesome and dresses conservatively. (Also, she's top-billed.) She earns extra credit as an assistant at an elementary school in a class taught by Miss Davis (Susan Strasberg). Three youngsters in the class stand out: Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy, superbly wicked), a blonde angel with pigtails, who looks to be a model student; Curtis (the great Billy Jacoby), a bespectacled boy; and Steven (Andy Freeman), a blonde devil. They are the children who were born during the eclipse, and their birthday is approaching.

Debbie charges the two boys admission to watch her older sister Beverly undress, through a peephole in the closet. Beverly is played by Julie Brown, who would go on to become an MTV host. I vaguely remember her as an annoying screen personality, but she definitely had a banging body. She dances around her room with abandon and strips completely naked, pretty much fulfilling the "gratuitous nudity" requirement of the sub-genre all on her own, though other breasts are uncovered along the way. Sufficiently astute to charge the boys extra before Beverly takes off her panties, Debbie is clearly the leader of the gang. Perhaps she inherited her leadership skills from her father, Sheriff Brody (Bert Kramer). In any event, Sheriff Brody meets an untimely end in a way that caught me completely by surprise.

Publicly grieving, the birthday-sharing children are secretly plotting evil things, putting Timmy's life in mortal danger, and leading the movie in a truly deranged direction. It doesn't quite get there; it's a bit too uneven, and the silliness quotient tends to overwhelm the fear factor. Still, the casual evil of the children is depicted in such bright, cheerful surroundings that it's unnerving. We know they're the culprits, so their apparent innocence plays out nicely as everyone except Joyce and Timmy remain blind to their nefarious intent.

The actors who are playing the children are themselves so young that it adds to the uneasy feeling. It's like they're playing dress-up serial killers. The supporting cast includes Joe Penny as a crush-worthy teacher, Michael Dudikoff as Beverly's boyfriend, and Melinda Cordell as Mother Brody.


NOVEMBER 26 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)
From horrorview.com

Ah, “killer kids” flicks. What a deliciously and devilishly creepy little sub-genre it is. There’s nothing quite as disturbing as seeing cherubic-faced tykes hacking and slashing their way through trusting adults; usually parents and siblings who, like everyone else, can’t possibly imagine these harmless little angels possessing the wherewithal to not only kill, but do so with zero hint of remorse. For many of us, our first exposure to this was 1956’s The Bad Seed – still considered by many to be the apex of killer kid movies (I don’t consider The Omen a killer kid movie. It’s an antichrist movie, which is an entirely different genre altogether). The formula proved a winning one, with several murderous moppet movies riding the wave of The Bad Seed’s success, most notably the sci-fi shocker, Village of the Damned (1960), Devil Times Five (1974), The Brood (1979), The Children (1980), and, the film I’m reviewing here, 1981’s Bloody Birthday.

Bloody Birthday opens in 1970, with a doctor (José Ferrer in a brief cameo) rushing to the hospital during an eclipse. We get a time lapse shot of the moon passing across the sun, as the doctor announces the delivery of three children, two boys, and a girl. We fast forward ten years, to 1980, and a young couple making out in the local cemetery. When things get hot and heavy, the couple relocate to the privacy of a freshly dug grave where they’re soon set upon by unseen attackers, one of which strangles the girl with a jump rope; the handle of which is left in one of the victim’s hands.

The next morning, Sheriff Brody (Bert Kramer), pays a visit to an elementary school classroom with his daughter, Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy), in attendance. He asks the children if they understand the concept of murder, and informs them that a piece of a jump rope was found at the scene of the crime. Later on, Debbie and her friends Curtis (80’s teen-movie stalwart, Billy Jacoby), and Steven (Andy Freeman), assemble at her home and brutally murder her dad thus revealing these “eclipse babies” as the unseen antagonists from the cemetery. While Debbie and her friends try to make Sheriff Brody’s death look like an accident, neighbor, Timmy (K.C. Russell), shows up and throws a wrench into the works. Curtis deems Timmy the murderous trio’s next target, and, during a game of hide-and-seek in the junkyard, locks Timmy in a refrigerator, and leaves him to suffocate. Timmy, however, proves more resourceful than Curtis anticipated, and manages to escape, but, when he tries to tell his sister, Joyce (Return to Horror High’s Lori Lethin), she dismisses this as yet another lie from her problematic little brother. It’s not long, however, before the three kids strike again, and Joyce finds herself caught up in their nefarious little scheme, and, like Timmy, narrowly avoids getting killed in the junkyard. With Timmy and Joyce threatening to put an end to their fun, Debbie, Curtis, and Steven hatch a plan to get rid of them both once and for all.

Directed by Ed Hunt, Bloody Birthday is a better-than-average example of low-budget 80’s exploitation, with a fairly impressive cast (including Susan Strasberg as the ill-fated teacher), solid production values, and scads of unexpected nudity, including a pre-MTV Julie Brown (of The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun fame) doffing it all in the name of art. As a matter of fact, there are more boobs than blood on display here, which may put off gorehounds but will certainly please dogs of the “horn” variety. Yes, it’s all pretty silly, and the film’s hilariously inappropriate score would have been better suited to an After School Special, but I found this blast-from-the-past enormously entertaining, and, at times, even a bit shocking! Well, okay, maybe not shocking; more like mildly unsettling, but still…

Bloody Birthday comes to DVD courtesy of Severin Films and sports a fairly sold 1.66:1 transfer thatsave for a few issues, looks remarkable, especially when compared to VCI's letterboxed version. The opening sequence is still exceptionally dark and grainy, with a bluish pall cast over the proceedings, but I think this has more to do with the way the film was originally shot than being a fault of the transfer, itself. Once the action moves indoors or into the light of day, things are cleaned up considerably, and the image, while a touch soft at times, is bright and colorful, with very few signs of wear or artifacts. The accompanying Dolby Digital audio mix is very impressive for a mono track, with crisp and clear dialogue and nary a hint of buzz or distortion.

Extras include an entertaining interview with star, Lethin, who reminisces about both the production and her early career in Hollywood. Also included is an audio interview with director, Ed Hunt, a selection of trailers for other Severin releases, and a short featurette entitled A Brief History of Slasher Films, which, I guess, this film could qualify as , seeing how it does adhere to the genre rules (right down to the “final girl”).

Bloody Birthday isn’t a particularly scary flick, nor does it make a whole helluva lot of sense (we never learn why the kids are the way they are, just that they were all born during an eclipse, which, I reckon, was reason enough for the filmmakers), but it’s still an immensely enjoyable and well-made film that fans of 80’s horror and killer kid flicks should definitely consider adding to their must-see list.


NOVEMBER 26 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)
From shuizmz.com

Those three words had me hooked on seeing this film when I read the film’s synopsis back in the mid-80s on the back of the VHS box at the liquor store/video rental store Elm’s Liquorland in Arlington Heights. What made this rental between me and my friends even better was the old, slimy store clerk (who, himself, looked to be a child molester) tried to tell my buddy’s mother that Bloody Birthday (’81) was a horror film about kids that killed adults, had a fair amount of nudity, and was nothing that anyone under 17 years of age should be watching. O.K., she said. I will worry about my kids viewing choices while you just make sure drunks have a choice of video rentals while they are picking up a bottle of Jack Daniels or a case of beer. I thought it was funny that a scumbag at a liquor store whom looked and smelled like he was drunk 24/7 was giving a mother of two kids advice on parenting. Dude, you work in a liquor store selling a vice to drunks and avid drinkers. Hell, if the guy decided not to sell alcohol to those he felt drank too much or whose livers were dying out, he probably would be out-of-business or barely scraping by financially. His “warning” made me and my two buddies even more stoked to watch this morally-depraved film about murderous little shits!

I remember that I was not disappointed with Bloody Birthday at all. In fact, I loved it. I had never seen a film where kids under the legal age of driving, as young as ten years old, were going around wasting anyone that they felt they wanted to kill or got in their way. What was even better about this film was the fact that there were a few actors and actresses that I was familiar with: K.C. Martel of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (’82) fame, Elizabeth Hoy from The Blues Brothers (’80), and Billy Jayne from Cujo (’83). These were actors and actresses that I knew from other movies, one of which was from the horror genre, and did not play evil and twisted roles as in Bloody Birthday.

REVIEW: BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)

Kids that kill.

Those three words had me hooked on seeing this film when I read the film’s synopsis back in the mid-80s on the back of the VHS box at the liquor store/video rental store Elm’s Liquorland in Arlington Heights. What made this rental between me and my friends even better was the old, slimy store clerk (who, himself, looked to be a child molester) tried to tell my buddy’s mother that Bloody Birthday (’81) was a horror film about kids that killed adults, had a fair amount of nudity, and was nothing that anyone under 17 years of age should be watching. O.K., she said. I will worry about my kids viewing choices while you just make sure drunks have a choice of video rentals while they are picking up a bottle of Jack Daniels or a case of beer. I thought it was funny that a scumbag at a liquor store whom looked and smelled like he was drunk 24/7 was giving a mother of two kids advice on parenting. Dude, you work in a liquor store selling a vice to drunks and avid drinkers. Hell, if the guy decided not to sell alcohol to those he felt drank too much or whose livers were dying out, he probably would be out-of-business or barely scraping by financially. His “warning” made me and my two buddies even more stoked to watch this morally-depraved film about murderous little shits!

I remember that I was not disappointed with Bloody Birthday at all. In fact, I loved it. I had never seen a film where kids under the legal age of driving, as young as ten years old, were going around wasting anyone that they felt they wanted to kill or got in their way. What was even better about this film was the fact that there were a few actors and actresses that I was familiar with: K.C. Martel of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (’82) fame, Elizabeth Hoy from The Blues Brothers (’80), and Billy Jayne from Cujo (’83). These were actors and actresses that I knew from other movies, one of which was from the horror genre, and did not play evil and twisted roles as in Bloody Birthday.

Killer kids looking oh-so-innocent

Bloody Birthday’s plot revolves around three kids: Debbie Brody (Elizabeth Hoy), Steve Seton (Andy Freeman), and Curtis Taylor (Billy Jayne) whom all were born on the same day at the height of a lunar eclipse. The doctor at the hospital, credited as “doctor” and played by the incredible Jose Ferrer (Dune (’84), The Caine Mutiny (’54), and Lawrence of Arabia (’62) in a very brief role, notes this lunar eclipse as he goes in with a nurse to care for the new-born babies. We then skip to about ten years later where the kids look and appear to be nice little boys and girls, except for the fact that they are killing adults, some even as young as teenagers and any other kids that cross them. Some of the victims whom are killed lose their lives because they are out late at night having sex outside in a cemetery, as is the case in one murder, or are screwing around in the back of their van. In either case, the scenes contain some nice nudity and sexuality in which we are shown that the kids murdering the victims are watching the sexual foreplay for a bit before killing them in slasher film fashion. Along with the bad kids, there is one good kid amongst the group whom goes to the same school and lives in the same neighborhood whose name is Timmy Russell (K.C. Martel of E.T. and The Amityville Horror fame). His older sister Joyce Russell (Lori Lethin) is main lead in the film, also best friends with one of the devious children’s older sisters’, Beverly Brody (West Coast Julie Brown of MTV (not to be confused with Downtown Julie Brown also of MTV) and also starred in Earth Girls Are Easy (’88) and Clueless (’95)).

Joyce works at the school all the children attend and one night is researching the students’ birthdays and notices that the three kids whom all share the same birthday were born during a lunar eclipse in which the sun and moon block Saturn, which in astrology just so happens to control emotions. This is why the kids are remorseless and are stone-cold killers. At times, watching the little kids bash a teenagers head in with a shovel and choking his girlfriend with a jump-rope as if they were just playing a game of kickball or a game of tag outside is pretty damn disturbing. None of the murders in the film are extremely gory or even that bloody, but just the fact that 10 year old kids are peeping on girls screwing around with their boyfriends, breasts bare, or getting undressed and dancing around naked in the privacy of their own bedroom as is the case in which Beverly does while her younger sister Debbie charges her two young boy friends a quarter to watch through a homemade fashioned peephole in the closet is totally disturbing. I can’t recall a movie from the ’80s, or even off-hand right now that has kids this young and cute savagely killing off adults. The only film that comes to mind to me is Children of the Corn, but in the case of that film, there were some more supernatural elements at work and the kids all live in a cult-like cornfield and some of the kids are in their upper teens, if not even older. I think Bloody Birthday stands out more because of the innocence the kids exude in their perfect little white. suburban neighborhood where a lost dog is probably the biggest problem to occur.

One of my favorite scenes in the film is, aside from the nude dancing of Julie Brown (sorry guys, no full-frontal nudity by any actress at any point) in her bedroom is another scene in which a victim is killed by an arrow shot through the peephole and goes right through the eyeball. Now this scene is by no means comparable to a, say, certain scene in a certain Dario Argento movie in which a bullet is shot through a door’s peephole (Opera) or another epic eyeball scene in which a splinter is pierced through a woman’s eyeball in beautiful gory fashion from a Lucio Fulci film (Zombie)-but it is still fun…and a cute, little 10-year old girl is doing the killing.

As well as having some very brief scenes with screen legend Jose Ferrer, Susan Strasberg (Psych-Out (’68), Scream of Fear (’61)) also has some short screen time in the movie. I think it may be a unique role for her, as well. I found it very interesting that both Ferrer and Strasberg decided on being in a horror film about 10-year olds that go on a killing rampage.

The film, directed by Ed Hunt, is not his first only foray into the world of horror. Horror fans may recall another genre film starring David Gale (Re-Animator) in which a giant brain is being used by Gale (as Dr. Blake) to brainwash the town with mind-control and the rest of the planet for world domination. Hunt’s first horror film was Bloody Birthday and some of his other earlier works, one of which was first marketed as soft-core pornography (Corrupted (’73) ) and the other another sexually-oriented film (Diary of a Sinner), did not shy away from nudity and sexual themes. I guess one can assume it only fitting that Bloody Birthday cover an array of taboo subjects such as kids killing adults, peeping on girls undressing and couples having sex. Hunt seems to be in very familiar territory with Bloody Birthday. The Brain even had some scenes of nudity if I can recall correctly.

Severin’s release of Bloody Birthday comes packed with some special features, including an audio interview with director Ed Hunt, as well as an interview with lead actress Lori Lethin (who played Joyce Russell) entitled Don’t Eat the Cake. This is one of tw0 recent Severin releases that are of the slasher genre (the other being Nightmares a.k.a. Stage Fright) and both contain a short but interesting documentary on the slasher genre by none other than Adam Rockoff (author of Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film), entitled A Brief History of Slasher Films. Adam Rockoff is an active member of the horror community whom I have run into at various horror conventions and film festivals in the Midwest, and is also buddies with some of my buddies and professional acquaintances in the Chicagoland horror community. I also had the pleasure (or displeasure) of writing a fairly scathing review of Wicked Lake, a film he wrote the screenplay for.

In the end, I found out I probably enjoyed Bloody Birthday just as much as I did when I saw it for the first time as a young, warped youth, except that this time around I did not get so excited when boobs appeared on the screen or a woman’s ass was shown as I did when I was just starting to hit puberty in junior high or whenever the hell I started to. The years without a girlfriend are some dark years, indeed! As a slasher film, I feel that Bloody Birthday is very unique in that it portrays kids killing adults and has some perverted elements of kinkiness to it with the peeping of teenagers having sex and the sister dancing around naked while the boys pay to see. I wished the gore was more and the blood flowed more freely, but I suppose there is never enough blood, gore, and nudity in a film to ever satisfy my tastes. As a horror film and a slasher film, I really think one ought to at least view this film, if not even buy it.

P.S.-Don’t forget to look for low-budget action/adventure star Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja (’85)) in a very tiny role as the boyfriend of Beverly Brody (Julie Brown).


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