Saturday, June 7, 2014

Blu-ray Review: BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)

Label: Severin Films
Release Date: July 8th 2014
Region Code: A

Rating: R
Duration: 85 mins
Video: 1.66:1 Widescreen 16x9
Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Mono
Director: Ed Hunt
Cast: Lori lethin, Melinda Cordell, Julie Brown, Susan Strasberg, Jose Ferrer

In a Midwest suburban neighborhood three children are born during a spectacular total eclipse of the moon. During the eclipse the sun and the moon are blocking the planet Saturn which according to the movie and one of its characters controls the development of human emotions. The three children are born with an apparent lack of remorse and compassion, a deficiency which manifests itself shortly before the children's 10th birthday.  The trio of pint-sized terrors are Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy, HOSPITAL MASSACRE), Curtis (Billy Jacoby, BEASTMASTER), and Steven (Andy Freeman, BEYOND WITCH MOUNTAIN) who unleash a string of strange murders upon their suburban neighborhood underneath the noses of adults incapable of imagining that children could be the culprits. 

These creepy little shits are quite the menace right from the start by taking out a pair of lusty teens the catch making out in a freshly dug grave at the cemetery! The dude takes a shovel to the skull and the young woman is lynched with a jump rope. While the authorities assume the murders to be the work of a madman only neighborhood teen Joyce (Lori Lethan, THE PREY) and her younger brother Timmy (K.C. Martel, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR) suspect the adolescent trio are the culprits. 

We have good performances all around here particularly from the blond femme fatale Debbie and the freckled-faced Curtis who are just so damn diabolical - the entire film I was screaming KILL THOSE FUCKING KIDS... which really alarmed my kids.  The brother and sister duo of Joyce (Lori Lethan) and Timmy (K.C. Martel) are also standouts and east to root for. Of course I cannot forget to mention the appearance of MTV star Julie Brown as Debbie's sister Beverly who goes topless in one of the most memorable scenes in the film.

I found this one to be quite a unique take on the killer kiddie flicks, the vicious murder spree has astrological origins which is both ludicrous and awesome at the same time. There's something so fun about this trio of adolescent killers wreaking havoc upon a suburban neighborhood. The kids are just so damn vicious, Debbie murders her own father by luring him into the backyard where they bash in his brains with a bat!. The little brat also  pimps out her sister (Julie Brown) through a peephole in her closet but when sis threatens to ruin things for her she is taken out with an arrow through the eye, it's awesome. The image of Curtis prowling the streets at night with a revolver just itching to kill someone as he stalks the neighborhood for some reasion made me think of an adolescent Burgess Meredith, very creepy and a bit corny. There's a fantastic car chase through the junkyard as one kids steers and another operates the brakes and gas while trying to run down Joyce, it seems like it would read humorously but it's played straight and menacing though some inherent camp value creeps through. The body count is pretty low and the the gore is non-existent but Bloody Birthday is a damn twisted watch and loaded with plenty of gratuitous nudity - there's more than enough thrills here for any slasher fan. 

Blu-ray: Severin Films present Bloody Birthday in it's original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 widescreen aspect ratio with an all-new HD transfer from restored from an original vault element and lthe results are quite nice. The grain structure is intact with more natural skin tones and a modicum of depth and improved clarity. The English LPCM 2.0 audio sounds quite nice with only a few minor distortions. Dialogue, Arlon Ober's Manfredini-esque score and effects sounds quite nice. 

Extras carried over from the previous Severin DVD include an audio interview with director Ed Hunt  plus Don't Eat the Cake - An Interview with Star Lori Lethin  who recalls her experiences working with the cast and the director.  The 15 minute feaurette A Brief History of Slasher Film features 'Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher' with author Adam Rockoff.

Special Features:
- Audio Interview with Director Ed Hunt (51:10)
- Don't Eat the Cake - An Interview with Star Lori Lethin 16x9 (9:50)
- A Brief History of Slasher Films (15:11)
- Trailers: BLOODY MOON (1:39), HORROR EXPRESS (2:54), NIGHTMARES (3:18), THE BABY (2:46)
- Hidden Easter Egg (1:10)

Verdict: Ed Hunt's BLOODY BIRTHDAY is sleazy bit of trashy fun. There's something so fun about a trio of 10 year old fuckers prowling the streets and knocking off sex crazed teens, nosy adult and the kids next door, a cr
eepy suburban nightmare of a slasher that looks quite nice in HD. This one gets better with every watch - a high recommend. 4 Outta 5