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Review: Bloody Birthday (1981)

Writer: Amanda By Night


Let's face it, little kids are terrifying. Seriously, just raising a rugrat can be a daunting experience. So imagine that your offspring has no sense of right from wrong? Or worse yet, what if they knew and just didn't care?

That is the question of the day in Bloody Birthday. It's an unlikely, yet well told tale about three children (Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jacoby and Andy Freeman) from the same town, born at the same moment under a lunar eclipse. Somehow, moved by the tide and the moon, they have no conscience (just run with it guys) and turn out to be some screwed up tykes. Flash ahead to their tenth birthday and these kids are planning a black celebration that will take the town's population down a notch or two. Enter Joyce Russel (Lori Lethin), a teenager obsessed with astrology and her ten year old brother Timmy (K.C. Martel) who soon becomes aware of the bratty evil doings and attempt to stop them before its too late!

It's a shame that this film didn't make much of an impact during its initial release, since Bloody Birthday is a fun little popcorn movie that threw a few curveballs into the slasher pool. Child killers were (and still are) a reasonably taboo subject, with a few exceptions (The Bad Seed and Village of the Damned come to mind). Filmmakers generally steered clear of the dark side of children. It's a great topic for horror and director Ed Hunt (The Brain) explores it in all of its exploitable glory. These kids are cold-blooded. Watch as pretty Hoy lures her father out of the house where he unknowingly trips over a precariously placed skateboard. In the tensest scene, the trio of killers lock Timmy in an abandoned freezer. 

Bloody Birthday also has some high caliber nudity thanks to the beautiful MTV star, (Just Say) Julie Brown, twisted murders and, believe it or not, good actors. Some prestigious names appear in glorified cameos like Joe Penny, Susan Strasberg and Jose Ferrer, but Lori Lethin who was a staple of low-budget horror in the 80s (The Prey, Return to Horror High) is the real star and makes for a likeable heroine. The three murderous kids chillingly reflect the hearts of malicious killers, but even more disturbing is the fact that K.C. Martel would go to play Boner on Growing Pains! Blink and you'll miss Michael Dudikoff in a thankless role too.

A testament of a time when all the audience wanted was some of the red stuff splashed across the screen, no matter what age the killer, Blood Birthday deserves a second shot. I recommend double-billing this with the ludicrous but equally enjoyable The Children.



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