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Ed Hunt
Lori Lethin, Melinda Cordell, Julie Brown
Writing Credits:
Ed Hunt, Barry Pearson

Three children are born at the height of an eclipse of the sun. Ten years later, they begin to murder the people around them - even their family members.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 85 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 12/18/2018

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Ed Hunt
• Audio Commentary with “The Hysteria Continues”
• Interview with Actor Lori Lethin
• “Bad Seeds and Body Counts” Featurette
• “Starships and Killer Brains” Featurette
• Interview with Producer Max Rosenberg
• Trailers


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-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Bloody Birthday [Blu-Ray] (1981)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 30, 2018)

Presumably we can thank 1978’s classic Halloween for the subsequent slew of “special occasion”-themed horror films, though I suppose 1980’s Friday the 13th advanced that particular cause as well. One of skatey-eight films in that vein, 1981’s Bloody Birthday came hot on the heels of Friday.

In 1970, three children are born during a solar eclipse. Due to astrological shenanigans, these kids develop into emotionless psychopaths.

10 years later, all three – Steven Seton (Andy Freeman), Debbie Brody (Elizabeth Hoy) and Curtis Taylor (Billy Jacoby) – become killers. They slay those around them via a variety of methods and offer a menace to society.

That’s a pretty goofy premise, but it’s not a fatal flaw. Nonetheless, Birthday fails to use the theme well. A horror film so crummy it enters laughable territory, I can find little about which to embrace here.

Really, only one good scene emerges: the view from the “peephole” at Debbie’s house. In one of the most gratuitous nude sequences committed to film, we see Julie Brown – later of MTV fame – dance in various states of undress.

Otherwise, Birthday comes without a single redeeming feature, though I occasionally wondered if it aspired to parody the genre. Maybe the long nude scene acted to spoof all the other token skin sequences, and maybe the filmmakers chose to name the local sheriff “Brody” as a conscious winking nod to Jaws.

Maybe, maybe, maybe – I don’t know what went through the minds of those involved when they made the film. If Birthday aims to parody the genre, though, it does a crummy job, as it never hints that it aims at comedy.

The film does produce laughs, of course, solely because it seems so heavy-handed and amateurish. With more of a Bad Seed vibe than the usual 1980s slasher flick, Birthday pushes its youthful sadists to the level of camp, though seemingly unintentionally.

Instead, the young leads create laughs because they provide such poor performances. Not that bad acting restricts itself to the kids, as none of the adults manage credible work either.

To my surprise, Birthday provides some real actors in its cast. Jacoby offers a bad performance here, but he mustered a credible career as a kid/young adult, and we find actual “names” like Susan Strasberg and Oscar-winner José Ferrer.

I guess Strasberg and Ferrer either lost bets or really needed the money, as I can figure no other reasons they’d volunteer to work in such a dreadful project. Like the rest, they fail to bring anything to their thin roles.

Perhaps if Birthday mustered some creativity when it came to its kills, it might at least boast a certain gruesome charm. However, the violent scenes remain dull and forgettable, just like everything else.

Granted, murders executed by 10-year-olds probably shouldn’t seem “innovative”, but then again, neither should the actions of a mute, mentally disabled role like Jason Voorhees. Horror movies don’t need to follow much logic, so the simplistic nature of the violent moments feels less like a nod toward realism and more the result of bad filmmaking.

And make no mistake: Birthday brings filmmaking at its worst. Inane, boring and utterly free of scares, this becomes a poor take on the horror genre.

Footnote: Strasberg plays a teacher named “Viola Davis”. Whereas “Sheriff Brody” had to be a nod toward the Jaws character, “Viola Davis” offers a name funny only in retrospect – unless somehow the filmmakers knew then-15-year-old Davis would later become a star.

The Disc Grades: Picture C/ Audio C/ Bonus B-

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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