Blu-ray Review: BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)

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Bloody Birthday Review

REVIEW: BLOODY BIRTHDAY / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: ED HUNT / SCREENPLAY: ED HUNT, BARRY PEARSON / STARRING: LORI LETHIN, JULIE BROWN, ELIZABETH HOY / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 23RD

Bloody Birthday (1981) takes the sporadically trendy “killer kid” subgenre and crosses it with the slasher movie, which was then in its early '80s heyday, when any new angle seemed worth a punt. Not that the kids in question stalk their victims with anything as rudimentary as knives – no, their weapons of choice are guns, baseball bats and, er, skipping ropes. Still, you get the picture.

The three killer kids in question are born during a solar eclipse, which messes up their astrological charts and causes them to become little psychos. On the verge of their tenth birthday, they go on a murder spree, gunning down their teacher and tidying up the crime scene like pros (although wouldn't you be able to tell from the trajectory of the bullet that the shooter was only four feet tall?). Sweet little Timmy (Martel) is an unwitting witness to one of the crimes and becomes their next target, but his elder sister Joyce (Lethin) begins to sense that something is not quite right with his beady-eyed playmates.

It's all enjoyably cheesy but not too silly, thanks in great measure to writer/director Ed Hunt's confidently low key, commonsensical handling of the story. There's a slow, deliberate build to the acts of violence (including one very nifty murder involving a bow and arrow and a peephole) which gives them weight. And those are some scary kids, especially their twinkly, blonde, butter-wouldn't-melt ringleader, Debbie – an adorably creepy performance from young Elizabeth Hoy that should have turned her into a child star. If ET had landed in this lot's back yard, they would have sent him home in pieces.

This Blu-ray offers a pretty decent HD transfer – there's some grain in the close-ups but the wide shots are crisp and nicely atmospheric. It comes with a 9-minute interview with Lori Lethin, who tells a few funny anecdotes about the cast and reveals that there was no child safety regs on the three week shoot in Pasadena. There's also a Brief History of the Slasher Movies, which does what it says on the tin, offering a sprightly romp through the subgenre all the way from Psycho to the remakes of the mid-Noughties. A decent little '80s horror nicely presented.

Extras: Don't Eat That Cake / A Brief History of the Slasher Movies / Trailers

 


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