Bloody Birthday Movie Review
Written by Simon Bland
Blu-ray released by 88 Films
Directed by Ed hunt
Written by Ed Hunt, Barry Pearson
1981, 85 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 23rd June 2014
Lori Lethin as Joyce
Julie Brown as Beverly
Billy Jayne as Curtis
Elizabeth Hoy as Debbie
Those of us of a certain generation will no doubt have fond, if fuzzy memories of visiting their very first video rental store. Not the polished aisles of a Blockbuster but the off-brand outlets that were always a little hazy with stale cigarette smoke and contained the best looking horror VHS tapes you’d ever seen. Bloody Birthday has all the trappings of something you’d find in one of these now-defunct places: a shlocky, hand-made vibe, eye-catchingly crude promotional art and a generous amount of boob shots on display. Those video shops may have now gone the way of the dodo but as this hard-to-find 1981 horror finally arrives on Blu-ray, it’s time to discover whether not renting it back in the day was a big mistake.
If cheap 80’s slashers have taught us anything, it’s that a lot of very obscure things can transform people into maniacs. Bloody Birthday’s catalyst of choice is a solar eclipse which, as our bookish hero Joyce (Lori Lethin) tenuously explains, blocked the emotion-controlling rays of Saturn causing three children to be born devoid of any feelings or remorse. When the trio reach the age of ten they set out on a killing spree in their small middle-America town using a variety of devilish weaponry to snub out their elders one by one. It’s not long until Joyce and her younger brother Timmy (K.C Martel) cotton on to the work of these three bad seeds but calling time-out on them proves much easier said than done...
Directed by Ed Hunt, you get the distinct impression that Bloody Birthday was stalking the same crowd that came out in droves for Halloween. Released just four years after Michael Myers broke loose, Hunt’s horror shares many of the same tropes, including Lethin’s final girl, the sexy being punishable by death and - in retrospect - a healthy dose of post-70s kitsch. Obviously, Bloody Birthday didn’t share the runaway success of John Carpenter’s classic but that doesn’t make it any less potent. Despite an undeniably flimsy back story for its killer kids, the way they conduct their bloody business is pretty memorable. The three terror tykes Curtis (Billy Jayne), Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy) and Steven (Andrew Freeman) are never short of an evil plan and turn out performances that implore you to hate them, adding to the film’s endurability for modern eyes.
2014 sees Bloody Birthday celebrate its 33rd year. It also sees Hunt return to filmmaking after a whopping twenty-six year absence with new one Halloween Hell. His movie’s old video store homes may have been replaced by digital Amazon web pages but his audiences are still there, perusing, eyeing up titles, looking for a good watch. Isn’t about time you took Bloody Birthday home? The part of you that never left the video store will love it.