Bloody Birthday (1981)

The early '80s is renowned as the time of the slasher film, with numerous titles both classic and horribly unwatchable.  What is typically not known is that the films themselves were butchered as much as the victims in them by the MPAA (may of the Freddy and Jason movies were much bloodier, and the original My Bloody Valentine was heavily censored).  What that meant is that, while promising boobs and blood, you got a very little of the former and not as much of the latter as you would expect. 

That is why Bloody Birthday is quite a surprise.  Not only does it have graphic nudity (and scenes bordering on softcore porn), but it makes up for a moderate amount of gore by making the killers a group of children.

Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy), Curtis (Billy Jayne) and Steven (Andrew Freeman) are all born at the same time during an eclipse on June 9, 1970.  A week before their birthday a couple of teenagers are murdered while having sex in an open grave.  Debbie's father James (Bert Kramer), who happens to be sheriff of the town, investigates and starts to get too close, leading to the kids to stage his death as an accident.  Unfortunately, Timmy Russell (K.C. Martel), the kid who lives next door, is a potential witness.

Luring Timmy to a junkyard while playing, Curtis attempts to get rid of him by locking him in an old refrigerator.  Timmy escapes, but his older sister Joyce (Lori Lethin) thinks that he is telling stories.  Meanwhile, Debbie runs a business charging the boys a quarter each to watch her sister Beverly (Julie Brown) undress through a hole drilled in a closet where her parents keep a bow and arrow.

A there birthday approaches the murders continue, mainly against those they think have done them wrong.  Debbie puts pictures of potential victims in a scrapbook, while Curtis takes care of technical details and Steven typically does the wet work.  Joyce begins to suspect once they attempt to make her look crazy at their birthday party (Curtis pretends to poison the frosting on the cake), and then decides to take her and Timmy out finally while they are babysitting Debbie - after Curtis has wired Debbie's house as a trap.

The reason for the killings is about as thin as possible.  Supposedly, due to astrology (which is flimsy to begin with, but even worse when made up), the three kids were born without a conscience, turning them into little killers.  It wouldn't be bad if they just left it at that, but the movie does try to revisit it a couple times. 

Ignoring that fact, the movie can be enjoyed just because the kids themselves doe a great job in their roles.  Elizabeth Hoy is convincingly psychotic and the ringleader, while Billy Jayne is as cold a emotionless as the machines Curtis likes to work on. 

The acting by most of the adults is average to mediocre (although Susan Strasberg does a great cameo as the kids' teacher), and this is Julie Brown before her singing and comedy career.  About all she is tasked with is acting ditzy and getting naked, which really isn't a bad thing in this case. Largely, it's what you expect from a movie of this type.

Sadly, this one is largely forgotten these days, but is actually a cut above better-known films like Sleepaway Camp or Slumber Party Massacre

Bloody Birthday (1981)
Time: 85 minutes
Starring: Lori Lethin, K.C. Martel, Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jayne, Andrew Freeman, Julie Brown
Director; Ed Hunt


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