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Bloody Birthday

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    Ian Jane
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  • Bloody Birthday


    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: 6/28/2011
    Director: Ed Hunt
    Cast: Elizabeth Hoy, Andy Freeman, Michael Dudikoff, Erica Hope, Billy Jayne, Julie Brown
    Year: 1981
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Bloody Birthday begins in 1970 when three children - Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy), Curtis (Billy Jacoby) and Steven (Andy Freeman) - are born at the pinnacle of a lunar eclipse where the sun blocks Saturn, which is the planet that according to astrological lore, controls human emotions. Ten years later, the three kids, now fully enrolled in school and well known around town, start killing off some of the townsfolk. Obviously because they're just a bunch of innocent looking little kids - and we all know kids are angels, right? - nobody suspects them.

    A kid named Timmy (K. C. Martel of Growing Pains!) and his sister, Joyce (Lori Lethin), become convinced of their evil disposition and decides to do something about it. The three evil kids, however, are smarter than you'd expect and so they decide that they have to try to get rid of their problem. As things start to get even worse around town, Joyce will have to try and convince the adults of the town and the proper authorities that these three young killers are the real thing, which won't be easy.

    Notable for a couple of gratuitous nude scenes (including one by future MTV star Julie Brown of Clueless and other goofball comedies), Bloody Birthday has only some mild gore (which is unusual for an 80s horror film when you consider how grisly the slasher films would get in the first part of the decade) and very little suspense worth noting. As an 80s time capsule of sorts, the film works though, and it's good for a few unintentional laughs for those who appreciate that decades specific brand of camp. Time hasn't been kind to it on certain levels, but it's still got some pretty significant entertainment value to offer and it's easy to see why it remains a cult favorite.

    Influenced by Village Of The Damned, the mother of all killer kid movies, Bloody Birthday moves at a good pace and actually succeeds in creating a fair bit of suspense towards the end. The performances aren't bad for a low budget early eighties horror film and Lori Lethin in particular does quite well in her part. The three 'killer kids' in the film aren't particularly scary, but they play their parts with enough conviction that you definitely do get the vibe that they're bad news. The shot of Debbie zipping around with a full size hunting bow towards the end of the film is simultaneously goofy and eerie - two adjectives you could use to describe most of the film. To explain, the fact that it's very much a product of the early eighties makes the fashions, hairstyles and furnishings on display amusingly campy, but the actions of the kids are, at least in this day and age where kids do periodically kill one another, can get under your skin a little bit. Some creative kill scenes, a novel premise, some welcome celebrity nudity and the presence of a very young Michael Dudikoff make this one worth revisiting. Dated or not, it holds up well and benefits from excellent camerawork throughout.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Severin's new transfer for Bloody Birthday destroys the previous release from VCI. While the release was at least anamorphic, it was dark and murky throughout and suffered from minor print damage throughout. This new disc improves on the color reproduction in a big way and presents the film in much nicer shape than ever before. Black levels look good, colors are more natural and a fair bit warmer without looking blown out, and the increase in detail is vastly improved.

    For some comparisons between the old VCI DVD and the new Severin DVD, click here!

    Audio chores are handled by an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track and again, we get an improvement over the previous DVD release. The track is cleaner, clearer and the score sounds quite a bit better than it has in the past. There are no problems with hiss or distortion, everything is nice and clean. A few scenes sound a bit on the flat side, but that's to be expected given the older mono source.

    Extras on the DVD start off with a featurette called Don't Eat That Cake which is a ten minute interview with the film's leading lady, Lori Lethin, who speaks about her experiences making the film quite fondly. For some reason there's a creepy ventriloquist dummy behind her during the interview - yikes! - but this is definitely a good little look back at the making of the movie. She talks about her co-stars, including Julie Brown, and about the kids themselves as well as some of the movie's themes. The film's director, Ed Hunt, is also interviewed for a lengthy fifty-one minutes. It's an audio only interview and Ed's thoughts on the film play out over top of the same still taken on the set, so it's not the most visually impressive thing you're ever going to see but it's great to hear from him even if the audio clarity here isn't so hot. At any rate, technical quirks aside, the interview is a good one as Ed talks about what was and wasn't acceptable as far as the script goes, working with the child actors, working with the adult actors and more.

    Severin has also included a fifteen minute featurette entitled A Brief History Of Slasher Films that starts off with some input from Adam Rockoff who wrote Going To Pieces: The Rise And Fall Of The Slasher Film who traces the genre's origins back to Hitchcock's Psycho before discussing the influence of Bava's Bay Of Blood on films like Friday The 13th and their subsequent knock offs. He talks about most of the high points in the genre, like Black Christmas and Halloween before going into some of the finer points of more obscure slashers, such as Bloody Birthday, Bloody Moon, Maniac, Pieces and plenty more before moving onto modern slashers like Scream and Rob Zombie's stupid Halloween remake. It's a clip heavy interview but one that fans of the genre will enjoy as it uses some nice poster art and VHS art throughout its running time.

    Rounding out the extras are an Easter egg which, when clicked, plays the film's trailer (It's in rough shape and looking like a Youtube rip but better to have it here than not to), trailers for a few other Severin releases (The Baby, Bloody Moon, Nightmares and Horror Express), static menus and chapter selection. Unfortunately the interview with the film's producer, Max Rosenberg, that was included on the VCI disc is not included on this Severin release.

    The Final Word:

    A pretty substantial upgrade over the previous DVD release, Severin's special edition of Ed Hunt's Bloody Birthday is a good one. Great picture quality and plenty of extras help to compliment a film that holds up well as a very fine killer kid film with some cool kills, even cooler boobs and plenty of entertainment value.













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