Blu-ray Review: BLOODY BIRTHDAY

BLOODY BIRTHDAY was directed by Ed Hunt from a screenplay he co-wrote with Barry Pearson and stars Lori Lethin, K.C. Martel, Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jayne, Andy Freeman, Melinda Cordell and Julie Brown. The score is by Arlon Ober.

The Bad Seed meets Halloween in this deliciously twisted early ’80s slasher offering directed by Ed Hunt and starring the always loveable Lori Lethin. Debbie, Curtis and Steven may seem cute as buttons. But their angelic facade conceals the wicked, murderous streak given to them having all been born under the same solar eclipse. With the grown-ups around them blissfully unaware of their little darlings’ homicidal tendencies, the evil brats begin to bump off the adults one-by-one. By gun. By arrow. By cake. Bye-bye! Mixing the killer-kid subgenre with elements of the then-booming slice-and-dice movie, 1981’s Bloody Birthday shocks and appalls with its scenes of young children shooting, strangling and bludgeoning their way through the local population. They sure don’t (and can’t!) make ’em like this anymore.

Debbie Brody (Elizabeth Hoy), Curtis Taylor (Billy Jayne) and Steven Seton (Andy Freeman) were born during a solar eclipse and this has somehow left them without the ability to care about others or show any kind of emotion. Sounds crazy enough, right? You guessed it, this has left them mentally deranged and they have a thirst for blood. The mischievous trio ends up making their rounds around the suburban setting and knocks off anyone they target. What happens is, Timmy Russel (K.C. Martel), another kid from the neighborhood, ends up discovering some of the diabolical deeds the trio of adolescent sociopaths are committing. He decides to tell his older sister Joyce (Lori Lethin) but she has a hard time believing him at first until she’s nearly run over by an old junkyard car that’s driven by two of the menaces.

Even though there are murders being committed all around this small community, none of the adults would ever think that this trio of middle school serial killers would be behind these unspeakable crimes. What happens is, during their 10th birthday bash, Debbie, Curtis and Steven are nearly exposed as the psychotic murderers that they are but somehow they narrowly escape the close call. It all comes down to the killer trio facing off with Joyce and Timmy who end up outsmarting them in the end. With Debbie being the manipulating bright one of the trio, she finds a way out of trouble while she watches Curtis and Steven take the wrap for everything. Of course, she has a little help from her enabling mother.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back include movie details, some images and list of special features. The reversible sleeve features some newly commissioned artwork by Timothy Pittides and movie credits so you have your pick of which side you’d like to use as the front cover. There’s also a Collector’s booklet inside that features new writing by Lee Gambin that will be available only on the first pressing. The Blu-ray disc also features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. Bloody Birthday was given a brand new 2K restoration from original film elements. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, it had been a while since I’d watched Bloody Birthday and I really enjoyed revisiting this 1981 horror classic. While a lot of viewers would describe it as just another slasher from the early 80s, it really belongs in the killer kid sub-genre and that’s what makes it such a cool watch. We haven’t gotten too many of these kind of movies over the years but this one here is probably the darkest of them all because of its content. First of all, there’s a lot of nudity and secondly these three kids are absolutely terrifying. Instead of the movie being a complete blood bath, it’s more of a sick character study that focuses on these three diabolical menaces that are able to come up with some creative kills. They use a shovel, jump rope, skateboard, an arrow and even a gun to murder their prey. Director Ed Hunt did a great job capturing the uncomfortable nature of the movie and the cast did a really good job with their characters, especially the younger actors because this is some seriously messed up subject matter. The movie is also complimented nicely by a fantastic score. Bloody Birthday has been given a pristine high-def upgrade by Arrow Video and is now available on Blu-ray

Distributor: Arrow Video

Run Time: 85 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English LPCM Mono 1.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: Good Stuff! The extras include two new audio commentary tracks, new interview, vintage interview, two feature spotlights and two trailers.

  • Brand new audio commentary with director Ed Hunt
  • Brand new audio commentary with The Hysteria Continues
  • Brand new interview with actress Lori Lethin (08:13)
  • Bad Seeds and Body Counts – a brand new video appreciation of Bloody Birthday and the killer kid sub-genre by film journalist Chris Alexander (19:58)
  • Starships and Killer Brains – Film producer Ken Gord on the cinematic career of his friend and collaborator, Bloody Birthday writer-director Ed Hunt (21:15)
  • Archival interview with producer Max Rosenberg (17:26)
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (01:59)
  • Promo Trailer (01:07)
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