Plot: Three children born during the same solar eclipse go on a murder spree before, during and after their tenth birthday.
Review: Do you like prototypical 80s slasher films? Well, 1981 slasher Bloody Birthday has all the blood, boobs and tropes you know and love. And if you like your killers pre-pubescent, this film has not one, not two, but THREE pint-sized murdering sociopaths. Three killer kids for the price of one movie? Now that’s a bargain if I ever heard one. With a blood-soaked SPOILER ALERT let’s revisit Bloody Birthday.
So what’s the story? Come on, you’re not watching this movie for the story. Okay, fine. Well apparently because these three unrelated kids were born under a solar eclipse in the same hospital at the same time none of them have a conscience. And because of that their favourite extra-curricular activity is killing people, both adult authority figures and oversexed teens (this is an 80s slasher movie after all). The film gives an astrological reason for their aberrant behaviour but it is about as thin as the plot itself. It also doesn’t explain why they decided to start their joint career in serial killing around their 10th birthday. But as I said, the story is not what you are here for.
What you are here for (I respectfully assume) is to see the kids be creepy and off folks in inventive ways. And the terrible tykes are easily one of the highlights of the film. Well, two of them at least. Elizabeth Hoy’s Debbie Brody looks like an angel but is a true devil in disguise. She is the leader of the pack and the young actress balances the saccharine sweetness with the vicious intent well. Even better is Billy Jayne’s Curtis Taylor. He has this completely unsettling look of delight on his face when he is terrorising and viciously murdering people that I thoroughly enjoyed. Easily one of my favourite kid villains in horror flicks and I loved to hate him. Sadly the third member of this terrifying triad, Andy Freeman’s Steven Seton, is about as interesting as toast buttered with more toast. His acting is super flat and he feels like furniture compared to the other two.
The rest of the cast are nothing to write home about either. Lori Lethin is decent enough as final girl Joyce. And true to the trope she is not seen having sex, though it is implied it happens offscreen. And Debbie’s sister Beverly and some rando teens caught by our killers pre-coitus more than make up for any lack of gratuitous nudity and sexual content. K.C. Martel is okay as Joyce’s kid brother Timmy, who is a frequent target of our terrible trio and who I did find myself caring about. And a pre-American Ninja Michael Dudikoff also appears in a non-speaking part, which I thought was cool.
In terms of kills and weapons of choice, those little bastards get relatively inventive. From your typical knife, to a skipping rope, to a bow and arrow and even a car writers Barry Pearson and Ed Hunt (who also directed the film) did put some effort into it. And it would be remiss of me to mention Curtis and his favourite weapon the gun, specifically a revolver. Now we don’t see a lot of killers in slasher films using a gun as it is way easier to convey terror and suspense with a handheld weapon like a knife. But credit to Hunt and young Billy Jayne’s performance because they made that gun-toting kid feel like a true threat. Pretty cool.
As an 80s slasher fan myself I enjoyed this film more than I expected. It is not particularly well-written nor well-acted but for a switch-off-your-brain, slightly campy murderfest it definitely works. And creepy Curtis Taylor alone makes this Bloody Birthday worth celebrating.
Editor Jules’s Score: 6.5 out of 10
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Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.