Friday, June 20, 2014

REVIEW: Bloody Birthday (Severin Blu-ray) - Total Eclipse of the Horror

Somewhere between Village of the Damned 1960 and The Children from 1980 comes Bloody Birthday (released in 1981 so as not to confuse you with my timeline). The cover may not necessarily let you know that you are about to watch a completely camped out, kid killer movie, but I think it does what any good horror movie cover from the 80's did; it gets you to watch the damn movie. Yes, this is a killer kid movie. It's a funny,sometimes frightening but most definitely entertaining killer kid movie. You don't have to worry about the subtle political context of Who Could Kill a Child? or even anything as realistic as The Good Son or the newer The Children from 2008. This is a fun time with a bunch o' brats who seem to think that killing is in the genes and by some strange planetary event, these little bastards get the Cart Blanche to murder.  This isn't my first time enjoying it, but it's a clear improvement over the DVD (which I own). It gets funnier and funnier every time I see it. Severin Films has done a great job with this release, and it will make a great addition to your killer kid Blu-ray collection. 

Synopsis from Severin Films:

Get ready for the rarely seen slasher classic from the ‘80s that may also be the most disturbing ‘killer kids’ movies in grindhouse history: Three babies are simultaneously born in the same hospital at the peak of a full solar eclipse. Ten years later, these adorable youngsters suddenly begin a kiddie killing spree of stranglings, shootings, stabbings, beatings and beyond. Can the town’s grown-ups stop these pint-sized serial killers before their blood-soaked birthday bash? K.C. Martel (E.T., Growing Pains), Joe Penny (Jake And The Fat Man), Michael Dudikoff (American Ninja), screen legends Susan Strasberg and José Ferrer, and MTV vixen Julie Brown – whose nude bedroom dance remains a landmark of celebrity skin – star in this still-controversial shocker from director Ed Hunt (The Brain, Diary Of A Sinner), featuring an HD transfer from the original vault elements.

For a movie that was obviously on a tight budget. Bloody Birthday isn't short on creative kills. Ed Hunt and crew were clearly looking for ways to make kids look like vicious killers but at the same time still look like innocent kids. Sure they're unsuspecting homicidal maniacs, but they should never actually look like homicidal maniacs and yet they should still terrify you. That means you can watch a kid pop off a couple rounds out of a hand cannon and think that it looks like he's just playing while people are really getting shot. You laugh because you have to. Hunt has given you absolutely no other choice. Whether it be a bow and arrow, gun, car, knife, poison, Bloody Birthday certainly knows how to make the innocent retain their angelic presence while dropping bodies on screen. Sure it's moderately unbelievable, but have you ever looked into a kids' eyes. You really don't know what the fuck they're going to do anyway. Sure they're all sweat until the car jack handle is in their hand and the rotor of your car is precariously raised right above your face. 

Village of the Damned seemed to continue the concept of a world invaded by a mysterious force that seemed altogether alien and this time arriving via birth during a mysterious synchronized event. Bloody Birthday works on the very same premise only it removes the supernatural from the mix and decides to go for the "all out murder machine" approach. That's why I reference Max Kalmanowicz's The Children. Sure those kids were exposed to radiation, but they come off like ticking time bombs that work their ways into your heart before the zap you. The Bloody Birthday kids are precisely like that only they've got unnatural brains. Super intelligence solely pointed at the act of murder. 

The disc has some pretty damn cool extras including an audio interview with Director Ed Hunt, an interview with Star Lori Lethin (not one of the killer kids unfortunately) and a Brief History of the Slasher feature (get your education!). This is an all new HD transfer from the original vault elements in 1080p Full HD resolution. The audio is mono. It probably should be given the type of movie this is, but it doesn't detract from your enjoyment. The artwork is the traditional hand coming out of the cake with finger tips lit. This is not something you will see in the movie, but it's a great friggin' image. 

Bloody Birthday is hands down one of the most fun killer kid movies out there. It has moments to scare and moments of tension with some low key effects that add to the comedy and won't fill the vomit bag. A great movie for parties. Not a great starter movie for your impressionable 8 year old. This is where the nightmare begins.

Order Bloody Birthday now. Streets 7/8, but pre-order now. 

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