Review: Bloody Birthday

Doctor Jose Ferrer delivers three babies in quick succession during a total eclipse of the sun. Years later, the trio of babies (now played by Billy Jacoby, Andy Freeman, and Elizabeth Hoy) have grown up to become homicidal 10 year-olds! It’s up to young K.C. Martel and his older sister Lori Lethin to stop the little menaces, as townsfolk keep getting bumped off. But...they’re just kids...they couldn’t...could they? Needless to say, our heroes don’t get a lot of sympathetic ears in town, but yes, due to Saturn (a planet that controls our emotions, apparently) being blocked due to the eclipse, these kids end up homicidal maniacs. Susan Strasberg turns up briefly as a teacher, whilst Julie Brown (of “Earth Girls Are Easy” semi-fame) has a supporting role as Lethin’s party girl best friend whose frequent disrobing in her bedroom gets used by her little sister Hoy as a money-making exercise involving a hidden peephole. Yeah, these kids are sick, and don’t act normal at all. Look out for future “American Ninja” (and eventual has-been) Michael Dudikoff as a teen hunk.

This 1981 horror pic from writer-director Ed Hunt (“Starship Invasions” with Christopher Lee and Robert Vaughn) is an odd one. It can’t seem to decide if it wants to be “The Omen” (or at least “The Bad Seed”) or a slasher film. And yet, that ends up making it better than a lot of other horror flicks from the 80s (the era of the slasher, by and large). It contains elements of both kinds of horror to the point where I think die-hard slasher enthusiasts (pardon the pun) might find it slow and rather tame (despite that oddball twist). However, adding the ‘killer kids’ element to the film, whilst not making it instantly brilliant, does help make it a pretty good and memorable film of its type. It’s certainly preferable to most “Friday the 13th” films at any rate. Besides, when you consider the ages of the killers here, you can’t expect a gory bloodbath anyway. I mean, think about it (Strangely, though, there’s lots of titty in the film). Nice gunshot to the head, though, and a wide array of weaponry on show. Did I mention that I hate kids? No wonder this film appealed to me (I also love Julie Brown’s tits, so that helped too. It’s a Hall of Boobage moment in a film with lots and lots of boobies).

Remember that opening scene in “Prom Night” (the original) with the adolescent prank? This is the film “Prom Night” could’ve been if it followed through on that. The performances are actually pretty good, save for the seriously stiff Susan Strasberg. Julie Brown, in addition to her great boobs (look at ‘em jiggle!), has an infectious and likeable personality. Certainly she’s got a more interesting personality than most slasher actresses. Her final moment is pretty damn memorable, too (if foreshadowed too easily). The trio of kid actors are actually pretty creepy-looking in that ‘too angelic’ kinda way. Young Hoy comes off best, looking like a younger version of Sandy Dennis, and incredibly creepy. She and Jacoby (the two best of the kids) aren’t on the same level as the actress from the more recent “Orphan” but they’re still very impressive in extremely difficult roles. What I love about the kids is that they aren’t really outwardly evil, they would seem generally normal to anyone not in on their plot. There’s an excellent, unnerving scene in a junkyard that impressed me too.

Lead actress Lethin is fine and likeable, if not a great thesp. The simplistic music score by Arlon Ober (Sam Raimi’s “Crimewave”, Paul Bartel’s “Eating Raoul”) is really good, if a bit too Herrmann-esque at times. Written by Barry Pearson (The Canadian hockey flick “Paperback Hero”), I don’t really buy the whole idea of the eclipse blocking Saturn, blocking the kids emotions at the moment of their conception etc. as an explanation for their sociopathic behaviour. That’s pretty silly, but...hey, it’s still an explanation, so at least Pearson tried. I’m impressed he even bothered, and let’s face it, the film’s just shy of tongue-in-cheek anyway. Also, call me sick, but the scene where Hoy gets hit with a big lampshade still cracks me up right now. God I hate kids. Noisy, messy little buggers (I’m half-kidding, by the way). Meanwhile, the idea of the ending is cool, but it’s way too rushed.

Call the film a sleeper, or at least better than most slasher films at any rate. It’s not bad and has enough difference to separate it from other horror flicks of the period. It’s nothing brilliant, but c’mon, we’re talking about killer kids! How cool is that?

 Rating: C+


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