Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 22nd, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1981
Director: Ed Hunt
Writers: Ed Hunt, Barry Pearson
Cast: Lori Lethin, Melinda Cordell, Julie Brown, Joe Penny, Bert Kramer, K.C. Martel, Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jayne, Andy Freeman, Susan Strasberg, José Ferrer, Michael Dudikoff
BluRay released: June 23rd, 2014
Approximate running time: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English
BluRay Release: 88 Films
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £14.00
Problem children have long been a staple of Horror cinema, with some of the more notable films with psychopath adolescents being, The Bad Seed, Children of the Dammed, The Omen and Children of the Corn.
Perhaps the reason why mischievous children with a violent streak make for such compelling characters, is that there is an innocence that is often associated with children. So that when something more sinister like murder at the hands of said children is thrown into the mix. Their actions become all the more potent.
The premise for Bloody Birthday is an interesting twist on familiar Horror genre themes that more than makes up for the fairly routine narrative. And to declare that the premise was farfetched, would perfectly sum up the story at hand. The plot is built up around the idea that three children born on the same during a total eclipse could become psychopath killers.
Unfortunately here ends this interesting premise, since the film makes no attempt at trying to explain why these kids are they way they are beyond that aforementioned link to the total eclipse. And while most viewers will be able to look past this flaw in the plot. It is safe to say that there will be just as many, who will quickly tune out as things become more bizarre and no concrete explanations are being offered up.
Being that this is a horror film and one of the most important areas of any horror film are the kill scenes. Let’s just say that the kill scenes while often eerie, they are not that bloody or gruesome. Another staple of horror film’s is nudity and surprisingly this film serves up a heaping amount of flesh. It is also nudity for which this film’s creepiest moments arises, during one scene one of the three psychopath killers’ a young girl named Debbie charges all of her classmates a quarter for a peep shop of her much older teenage sister.
Performance wise all of the cast are all very good in their respective roles, especially the three actors which portray the three psychopath children. The film’s standout performance comes from Lori Lethin in the role of Joyce Russel, a teenager who finds herself in the three psychopath children’s cross hairs after she discovers their darker murderous side. Two other performance of note Julie Brown (Earth Girls Are Easy), who portrays the older sister who unknowingly is being peeped on and Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja), who is cast in the role of her boyfriend.
Bloody Birthday comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Audio / video wise this new release from 88 films, when compared to Severin Films soon to be released Blu-Ray release looks comparable. It should be pointed out that this one main difference between these two releases is that 88 Films release has been locked for region B, while Severin Films release is region free.
Also when it comes to extra content, all of the extras (minus a few trailers) from that aforementioned release from Severin Films have been included with this release and they are as follows, a trailer for Bloody Birthday (1 minute 59 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio), an on camera interview with actress Lori Lethin (9 minutes 51 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), a lengthy audio interview with co-writer / director Ed Hunt (51 minutes 13 seconds) and a featurette with author Adam Rockoff titled ‘A Brief History of Slasher Films’ (15 minutes 12 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen).
Besides these extras 88 Films release has a few extras exclusive to their release and these include a reversible cover art, a booklet with liner notes about the film written by Calum Waddel, trailers for Bloodsucking Freaks and Two Moon Junction and an audio commentary with author of Teenage Wasteland Justin Kerswell and moderated by Calum Waddel.
The interview with Lori Lethin is a well-rounded discussion about her experiences working on this production. The audio interview with Ed Hunt not only covers various aspects of making Bloody Birthday, he also touches upon other projects that he has been involved in. The featurette titled ‘A Brief History of Slasher Films’ is basically a very brief summation of the Slasher genre that is bolstered with numerous clips and images from various Slasher films. The audio commentary is a lively affair where both participants have plenty to say as they discuss the Slasher genre, Bloody Birthday and those involved making it. Overall Blood Birthday gets a first rate release from 88 Films.