Bloody Birthday (1981)

Out of print.

review by Scott Hamilton and Chris Holland
See also:

Blood Beach


Twins of Evil

Bloody Birthday

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Our rating: three LAVA® motion lamps.

Bloody Birthday
Billy Jayne doesn't wait for his adulthood to
set in -- he starts robbing dry cleaners now!
Bloody Birthday isn't quite like any movie we've seen before. When it comes to the genre of 80's slasher flicks, that's actually an achievement. Like Village of the Damned before it, it concerns a group of children born on the same day. The children in Village didn't have to contend with these fashions, however, and it could be argued that such treatment by one's parents would drive anyone to murder.

The movie's explanation for the evil of these children is that they were born under a bad sign during a solar eclipse. Any qualified astrologer can tell you that children born when Saturn is blocked by the sun and the moon will be evil -- evil!! Plus, they have a compulsive need to organize their sock drawers.

The events of the movie take place around the kids' tenth birthday. The three children in question, Steve, Debbie, and Curtis, have decided to celebrate by killing off random townspeople. The townspeople respond by throwing a party. Their classmate Timmy and his older sister Joyce, home alone for the week, discover the true nature of this brat pack and must rely on each other to survive the assault of proto-Culkins.

Bloody Birthday
Transfer Students of the Damned.
These kids must have been watching a lot of Looney Toonstm, because their murder methods are ridiculously complex. In fact, the kids usually resort to brute force when their plans don't pan out. Thus, Debbie's scheme to kill her dad by leaving a skateboard on the steps becomes Steve's backup plan of beating the old guy to death with a baseball bat. Similarly, their attempts to crush Joyce with a junked automobile involve hot-wiring, jerry-rigging the steering wheel, and miles and miles of chicken wire. We're not making this up. Well, maybe the chicken wire part.

Those of you not convinced of your need to see this movie may want to hear about Julie Brown's small but memorable role as Debbie's big sister Beverly. Julie Brown is the comedienne and actress who has been in such films as Earth Girls Are Easy and Shakes the Clown, but this movie catches her at the very beginning of her career. Apparently she thought that being a scream queen would be a good idea. And like any good scream queen, well, let's just say that we bet that Beverly was born under a full moon with nothing blocking the twin globes, okay? The scene in which Ms. Brown takes it all off and dances in front of a mirror was a terrifically compelling piece of filmmaking, much more so than anything that showed up in boring old films like Saving Private Ryan.

Bloody Birthday
"Are you sure you can't get me
Erik Estrada's autograph?"
The problem with Bloody Birthday is that nothing really moves the plot along. You might think that the whole film is leading up to the tenth birthday party, but the party itself goes by almost without incident. Things finally come to a head when the three evil tykes set an ambush for Joyce, and she manages to overcome them with the help of Timmy and sheer luck. We thought Joyce's boyfriend Paul would end up rescuing them, since there really wasn't any other reason to introduce him, but that didn't happen.

Strange as it sounds, the kids themselves are really the best feature of the film (excluding Ms Brown's impromptu fan dance, of course). Composed of now-familiar character actors like K.C. Martel (seen here as Timmy, he would later appear in E.T.), each kid actually justifies his or her presence on screen with a credible performance. Particularly creepy is Billy Jayne as Curtis, the smartest of the three hellspawn. He takes such delight in outsmarting the adults and escorting them to their gruesome ends that we couldn't help but get the willies.

It's doubtful that Bloody Birthday would get made in today's Hollywood, and certain scenes (like the one with Curtis pulling an arrow out of Julie Brown's eye) wouldn't have a chance in hell. Audiences and critics who squirmed at evil toys like Chucky and Tiffany in Bride of Chucky would go ballistic when faced with 10 year-olds who ask each other what to do with the body. Still, we'd like to see the sequel to this flick, which we imagine would be called something like Bloody Birthday 2: And Many More.

Bloody Birthday
Julie Brown looks into the dark,
deep hole of her future career.
Review date: 03/21/1999

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