Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 20th, 2011
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
DVD released: June 28th, 2011
Approximate running time: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
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.
Though the narrative structure is fairly routine, the premise for Bloody Birthday is far from being atypical. 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.
Severin Films presents Bloody Birthday in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. This film has been given a brand new HD transfer. Colors look nicely saturated and accurate, flesh tones look healthy, black levels look very good and details generally look crisp throughout. There are no problems with compression and edge enhancement is never an issue.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. There are no problems with distortion, dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced.
Extras for this film include a on camera interview with actress Lori Lethin (9 minutes 51 seconds – 4:3 full frame), a lengthy audio interview with co-writer / director Ed Hunt (51 minutes 13 seconds) and a fifteen minute featurette titled ‘A Brief History of Slasher Films’ with author Adam Rockoff. 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. Also included with this release are trailers for The Baby, Bloody Moon, Nightmares and Horror Express. Overall Severin Films gives Bloody Birthday it’s best home video release to date.