Horror movie makers seem to love to produce movies based around special days. Christmas, Halloween, Friday the 13th, April Fool’s Day…they’ve all had horror movies connected with them. Today’s film, takes advantage of that special day we all have…a birthday. Add to that another favorite horror movie device, killer kids, and you get 1981’s “Bloody Birthday.”
The film actually opens in 1970 where one night, in a small California town, three women are giving birth during a lunar eclipse. Sounds like trouble to me! Fast forward ten years. We spy in on a teenage couple engaging in some heavy petting in one of the few places they can escape spying small town eyes, the local cemetery. Afraid that they might be spotted, though, the couple moves to the most romantic spot they can find…you guessed it, an open grave. These two only get a few gropes into things when they hear strange noises and end up with dirt kicked on them. When the young man sticks his head out to investigate, he’s quickly bashed in the face with a shovel. Then, a child’s jump rope is lowered down and ends up strangling the girl.
The town, of course, is a bit shook up over this. The local sheriff (Bert Kramer)…Sheriff Brody (Hello, Steven Spielberg is on the line), even takes it upon himself to pay a visit to the class of Miss Davis (Susan Strasberg)…Miss VIOLA Davis (whoa coincidence!), to talk to the kids about being careful and to ask if any of them have lost a jump rope. To us in the audience, there are three kids in the class who seem a bit off: the sheriff’s daughter Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy), Curtis Taylor (Billy Jayne), and Steven Seaton (Andy Freeman). Yup, the three eclipse kids.
Later that day, little Debbie has her two creepy pals over to the house. It seems that she has a racket going where she charges the little boys a quarter to spy through the peephole in her closet so they can watch her teenage sister Beverly (Julie Brown) undress. After that, the kiddos set a trap for Sheriff Brody involving a skateboard left on the patio steps. But when the sheriff steps around the skateboard, Curtis just beats him to death with a baseball bat instead.
Nobody in the town seems to suspect that these kiddos are the cause of these recent deaths. However, one of their classmates, Timmy (K.C Martel) and his older sister Joyce (Lori Lethin) begin to suspect things, especially after Curtis locks Timmy in a refrigerator during a junk yard game of hide and go seek. He manages to make it out, but the bodies keep piling up, including the kids’ nasty teach Miss Davis.
However, life must go on, and that includes the triple birthday party for the three kids. Remember the title of the film, after all. At this point, Joyce is getting wise to the kids’ schemes, so when she catches Curtis decorating a cake with what appears to be a mixture of icing and ant poison, she understandably freaks out. It turns out he’s faking her out this time, but by now the three kids are killing anyone and everyone they can. The question is, can they be stopped?
“Bloody Birthday” is a pretty goofy film. I mean, three kids turn out to be psycho killers because they are born at the same time during an eclipse!?! Surely other children were born around the world at the same time, why just these three? Why is their killer instinct just kicking in now, ten years later? And while we’re asking questions…why do these townsfolk all wear the exact same clothes for every funeral? Of course, none of these things mattered to the filmmakers. They were more concerned with giving you plenty of kills from these homicidal pipsqueaks as well as opportunities for Julie Brown to dance around with her clothes off. And this is “Earth Girls are Easy” Julie Brown…not “Downtown” Julie Brown.
As a horror movie, the film really falls flat, but if you watch this as unintentional comedy, I think most viewers will have fun with it. There’s a great silliness to the various weapons of choice for these three pint-sized killers. From knives and guns to jump ropes, skateboards, archery sets and even a garden hose. In one sequence, one of the boys even covers his face with a dirty pillow case before chasing Joyce around the junkyard behind the wheel of an old car. Strangely, his proportions become very adult for some of the shots of the car zipping around. The whole film just has a great campy feel to it, spearheaded by an over-the-top crazy-eyed performance by Billy Jayne as Curtis. Jayne would be known as Billy Jacoby by the time he played horndog little brother Buddy in “Just One of the Guys” a few years later.
“Bloody Birthday” is by no stretch of the imagination a good film! However, I will gladly let this one join the ranks of guilty pleasures.