Bloody Birthday appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This wasn’t a bad image given its age, but it never became especially appealing.
Sharpness was probably the weakest link. Parts of the film showed reasonable delineation, but a lot of it came across as soft and bland.
No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws were absent as well.
Colors were adequate. Though the hues lacked great vivacity, they showed passable clarity.
Blacks were reasonably dark, and shadows presented acceptable smoothness. Nothing here seemed better than average.
When we moved to the film’s LPCM monaural soundtrack, it showed its age but usually sounded decent. Dialogue was adequate as only occasional edginess affected the lines. Speech could’ve been more natural, but the lines seemed okay.
Music wasn’t particularly bold, but the score and songs showed reasonable clarity and vivacity. Effects seemed clean and without substantial distortion, so though they didn’t have much kick, they reproduced the material well. While nothing here dazzled, the mix held up fine for a 37-year-old mono track.
The disc comes with an assortment of extras, and we find two separate audio commentaries. Along with moderator Steve “Uncle Creepy” Barton, writer/director Ed Hunt gives us a running, screen-specific view of the project’s roots and development, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, story/characters, stunts, and related domains.
Hunt offers a very subdued, dry personality, and he doesn’t seem to have a lot to say about the movie. Barton works overtime to drag content out of the filmmaker, and he eventually succeeds, but much of the track moves at a slow pace.
Hunt occasionally throws out some good notes, such as when he discusses conflicts with producer Max Rosenberg. We also learn that because the producers took the film away from him, Hunt never saw Birthday until three days before he recorded the commentary.
Those are the best nuggets we find here. Otherwise, this tends to be a sluggish, dull piece despite Barton’s best efforts.
For the second commentary, we find members of The Hysteria Continues, a podcast group. We hear from Justin Kurswell, Erik Threllfall, Joseph Henson and Nathan Johnson. All four chat together for this running, screen-specific look at cast/crew, other horror flicks/influences, sets and locations, and related subjects.
The commentary presents as a chat among semi-knowledgeable genre fans. That means we get a decent appreciation for how Birthday compares to other horror flicks.
As such, we don’t actually learn much about Birthday, mainly because none of the participants seem to know much about the production itself. This doesn’t become a bad chat, but it fails to deliver a lot of useful information.
In addition to two trailers, the disc comes with a few video programs. First comes an Interview with Actor Lori Lethin, an eight-minute, 13-second discussion of her time on the film. She gives us a decent examination of her experiences.
Next we get Bad Seeds and Body Counts, a “video appreciation” with film journalist Chris Alexander. In this 19-minute, 58-second reel, Alexander examines the “killer child” subgenre.
In this case, Alexander offers a few notes about Birthday’s predecessors, but he mostly offers an appreciation of the film. Fairly stream of consciousness in nature, Alexander’s chat doesn’t provide as many insights as I’d hoped.
Starships and Killer Brains goes for 21 minutes, 15 seconds and features Ken Gord, a film producer and one-time friend of Hunt’s. He tells us a little about Hunt and the filmmaker’s career. While we find a few useful thoughts, much of this reel feels meandering.
Finally, we find an Interview with Producer Max Rosenberg. In this archival 17-minute, 26-second piece, Rosenberg covers the development of Birthday as well as aspects of the production.
During his commentary, Hunt refers to conflicts with Rosenberg, but the producer goes farther, as he calls Hunt both a “fucking nut” and “extremely stupid”. While not as extreme with his other remarks, Rosenberg proves very frank, and that helps make this an entertaining reel.
One extras-related footnote: to my shock, at no point does anyone comment on the fact the movie uses a character named “Sheriff Brody”. The “Hysteria” commentary even refers to the Jaws role but no one alludes to the connection between the two films. How can we get so many bonus materials and we hear no reference to this obvious link?
Even by early 1980s standards, Bloody Birthday provides an awful horror film. Silly, disjointed and pointless, the movie offers no charm or entertainment value. The Blu-ray brings mediocre picture and audio along with a sporadically useful set of supplements. Even genre diehards should skip this inane tale.