Halloween Havoc!: BLOODY BIRTHDAY (Ignite Films 1981)

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When I sat down to watch BLOODY BIRTHDAY, I was expecting a big slab of 80s cheese. What I got instead was a suspenseful (albeit far-fetched) horror film about three murderous children. The little darlings were born during a solar eclipse which, according to astrology buff Joyce (Lori Lethin), blocked Saturn during their births. This makes then completely without empathy. I don’t know about that, but I do know one thing: these are the creepiest fucking kids since Spider Baby!

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Cutie-pie Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy) keeps a murder scrapbook and charges 25 cents to let kids watch her teenage sister Beverly undress through a closet peephole. Steven (Andrew Freeman) is a shy child with a fondness for knives. And nerdy looking Curtis (Billy Jacoby, later Jayne) is a total psycho who shoots people. These enfants terrible kill a teenage couple doing the wild thing in a cemetery in the opening scene, bash Debbie’s sheriff dad (Bert Kramer) in the head with a shovel, lock Joyce’s brother Timmy (KC Martel) in an abandoned refrigerator, shoot the teacher (Susan Strasberg), and generally behave badly. Joyce figures out they’re causing all the mayhem in Meadowvale, and the murdering moppets trap her and Timmy inside Debbie’s house, terrorizing the frightened siblings with guns, knives, and a bow and arrow!

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Director Ed Hunt piles the terror on thick during the film. Hunt’s responsible for cult films like STRANGE INVASIONS (1977), PLAGUE (1979) and THE BRAIN (1988). BLOODY BIRTHDAY is his best by far. The cast is peppered with familiar faces like Strasberg, Ellen Geer, William Boyett, Ward Costello, and even Michael Dudikoff!  You’ll also see Jose Ferrer, slumming it in a small role as a doctor. As in most 80s thrillers, there’s tons of gratuitous nudity involved! The whole movie’s got that Totally 80s feel, from Joyce’s giant headphones, the fashions and hairdos, and even the posters on Beverly’s wall (Van Halen, Blondie, and Erik Estrada, among others). Beverly was the film debut for Miss Julie Brown, a Totally 80s actress/comedienne who had some success in film, TV, and music. In fact, I’ll end this review with Julie’s Totally 80s (and Totally Un-PC) video for her hit song, “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun”!           

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