Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 10 - Bloody Birthday (1981)

The cover of my VHS copy of Bloody Birthday

Bloody Birthday (1981)
Director: Ed Hunt
Format: VHS (Video Classics)

This surprisingly-good killer kid flick fits into the "couldn't be remade today" category. It's hard to imagine any studio greenlighting a flick about a group of killer tykes, or at least one with kids as ruthless as the trio in Bloody Birthday.

The plot is simple enough - Three babies are born during a solar eclipse in 1970. Skip forward 10 years and as they approach their 10th birthday the murderous tykes set about killing anyone who gets in their way. They shoot, strangle, bury alive, beat to death with a baseball bat... nothing is too brutal for this triad of terror. A boy in the tykes' class and his older sister (Lori Lethin, THE DAY AFTER) learn what's going on and try to put a stop to their reign of terror.

The killer kid story has been done plenty of times before (THE OMEN, THE BAD SEED, THE GOOD SON, VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED etc) and Bloody Birthday doesn't really offer anything new to the sub-genre. In essence it's a slasher (with music lifted straight from the previous year's FRIDAY THE 13TH) with cute kids in place of a hulking killer.

Director Ed Hunt (ALIEN WARRIOR, STARSHIP INVASIONS) does a good job of keeping things interesting and doesn't scrimp on the kills, which are carried out in a variety of imaginative ways. Look out for an especially cool kill involving a bow and arrow. The tension and suspense is also good, particularly in the final act.

The supporting cast is good, including square-jawed Joe Penny a few years before becoming a TV regular in RIPTIDE and later JAKE AND THE FATMAN, and former MTV VJ Julie Brown (not the more famous Downtown Julie Brown, this one went by West Coast Julie Brown, got that?) who gets her kit off early in the movie.

But the real stars are the murderous mopheads, or at least two of the three. The blond-haired boy doesn't stand out, but Elizabeth Hoy is the right mix of adorable and creepy as Debbie and Billy Jayne (who a decade later would star as Parker Lewis's best friend on the TV show PARKER LEWIS CAN'T LOSE) is fantastic as the nerdy-but-cold-blooded Curtis.

Bloody Birthday is a definite case of don't judge a VHS by its cover. I went in expecting an 80s slasher but was surprised to find a nice little killer kid flick. Definitely worth watching.

Previews on my VHS tape: Dawn of the Mummy, Get Mean

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