Director – Ed Hunt
Cast – Lori Lethin, Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jayne, Andy Freeman, K.C. Martel, Julie Brown, Melinda Cordell, Bert Kramer, Joe Penny
Release Year – 1981
Reviewed by John of the Dead
very time I come across a slasher-esque film from the 1980s it is hard to pass up the opportunity, and Bloody Birthday got the best of me because of that. Films about killer children are not new for the genre, even for an early 80s effort like this one, but nonetheless they carry a fine mystique due to the taboo idea of a child serving as a killer, and that is where Bloody Birthday derives its horror. The kills are plentiful and the antagonists are ruthless, making for a pretty memorable killer child horror film that suffers a few faults but still manages to deliver the goods.
When three young kids turn their birthday weekend into a slaughterfest it is up to one of their classmates and his older sister to uncover their madness and prove to the town that three children are responsible for the heinous crimes shocking their community.
Well the poster art is cool and the title rules, so of course the story must be good right? Writers Ed Hunt and Barry Pearson did an OK job with this screenplay, coming with a storyline that I have yet to see used in the killer-kid/slasher sub-genres that the film mostly falls into. Most of the time we are given children that have been “bad” since birth, but in the case of this film (and that of 2008’s The Children) the children were once good and immediately turn evil as a result of something extraordinary. In the case of these three young kids it is the result of them being born on a rare occurrence where the planets align to form an eclipse every 10 years, and the time has come for these children to suffer the effects. They become calloused and hardened, lacking any emotion and going so far as to not only kill strangers but their own parents and siblings as well, and thankfully in pretty comical fashion. We see arrows through the head, people bludgeoned with baseball bats, lovers shot to death, etc., all of which are thrown together in cheesy sequences that should never be taken seriously. The dialogue is as expected, cheesy and cliche, and our three little monsters were used the same way, which I did not like at times thanks to how annoying I found the little girl, but I knew to expect it.
Ed Hunt also serves as the film’s director, and despite this not being his debut effort he does bring an amateurish feel that I found mostly enjoyable. His execution of the horror was fun and it seems he did what he could with a low budget to bring out the kill sequences, although we get little as far as gore goes. Nonetheless he managed to provide a fair amount of shock-value with his execution of the kills, some of them brutal in nature, and in the end it left me pleased with what I saw. With a bunch of children as our lead actors you should expect their performances to be cliche for this sub-genre, but just as I mentioned with the dialogue, such things should just be expected in these films.
Overall, Bloody Birthday is a flawed but ultimately watchable killer child slasher film that gives us a fairly unique premise to the chaos and comes with plenty of fun kill sequences to keep the viewer engaged, just be prepared to forgive a little.