24th Jun2014

‘Bloody Birthday’ Blu-ray Review (88 Films)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Lori Lethin, Melinda Cordell, Julie Brown, Joe Penny, Bert Kramer, K.C. Martel, Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jayne, Andrew Freeman, Susan Strasberg, José Ferrer, Ben Marley, Ellen Geer, Erica Hope | Written by Ed Hunt, Barry Pearson | Directed by Ed Hunt


A birthday (or random holiday), killer kids and a total eclipse…all of this sounds like the perfect combination for a horror film. Bloody Birthday is a slasher movie that appeared in the eighties, this should be more than a hint what you’ll see. Horror fans know the tropes well that appear in the film, and although this is somewhat of an obscure homage to Halloween, 88 Films have done what they do best and brought a cult classic (of sorts) onto Blu-ray for the fans to enjoy.

In 1970 three children are born during a solar eclipse in which the Sun and Moon blocked Saturn. Ten years later these three kids start to show their true colours, becoming heartless killers bent on destruction. As they kill people around them including family members, the only people with a chance to stop them maybe Timmy Russel (K.C. Martel) and his astrology obsessed sister Joyce (Lori Lethin).

To say that Bloody Birthday was released during a time when horror was increasing in gore and looking for shock value, the killings feel more subtle in Bloody Birthday and in many ways more realistic.  This may have been down to its small budget. The fact that these violent crimes were being done by children should have a shock value but when comparing it to other movies where the killers are young, there are few limits actually pushed. This may be down to the fact that most of the killings are typical teenagers who dare to have sex, but for my tastes I would still have liked to see a killing that truly struck an emotional response.  Even the murder of family members just feels almost normal to the slasher genre.

Saying this though, what we do get are some interesting set ups that has the feel of feeding off the fears of public opinion and urban legend. The three children Debbie (Elizabeth Hoye), Curtis (Billy Jayne) and Steven (Andrew Freeman) are of course perfect little angels for their parents, but we as the audience get to see the real side of the brats, dangerous and psychotic there are no redeeming qualities in these kids. I couldn’t help but think that if they were in CSI they’d be picked up after their first murder, because the execution is infantile and obvious evidence left all over the death scenes, the fact is there has to be some suspension of disbelief when watching a horror, especially one like this that is definitely on the more silly side of the genre.

On the more impressive side, 88 Films have really done a good job at adding plenty of special features.  Booklet notes written by Calum Waddell are available and also a commentary track with he and Justin Kerswell discussing not only Bloody Birthday but the slasher genre in general. With Kerswell being the author of Teenage Wasteland which focuses on the genre it makes for very interesting listening.  Another commentary track which is an audio interview with the director of the film (but which only lasts around fifty minutes of the movie) and there is also a video interview with Lori Lethin about her memories of the film. A fifteen minutes look at the history of slasher movies is also a nice way to top off the features as well as a few trailers for other 88 Films releases.

Bloody Birthday for me may not be the best slasher to come out of the eighties, but it still manages to be watchable and enjoyable. 88 Films have provided plenty of supplementary material for fans, and for completest horror collectors Bloody Birthday is a film to be owned, especially on Blu-ray. Not a classic, but still with a cult following 88 Films have yet again released a fun Blu-ray fans will no doubt love just for its attempt at being a little different.

Bloody Birthday is out now on Blu-ray from 88 Films.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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