August 1, 2012

Bloody Birthday (1981)

"Lacking consciences because they were born during a solar eclipse, a trio of 10-year-olds embark on an indiscriminate killing spree."

Once again, due to there being nothing new to watch, I'm back to the oldies. I actually watched "Bloody Birthday" at the end of last week during the time when I had no internet connection so at least I got something good out of the tornado

Basically, "Bloody Birthday" was little more than a ripoff of "The Bad Seed" (1956) and "Village of the Damned" (1960), but it was done rather well. The evil kids in this were almost perfect in their roles, and, as someone who can't stand kids anyway, they really made me glad that I don't have any of my own.

Although it was never satisfactorily explained why the kids (played by Billy Jacoby, Elizabeth Hoy and Andy Freeman) decided to go on a killing spree just before their joint tenth birthday and not in all the years before, I think it had something to do with astrology and the alignment of planets. If you believe in that nonsense then, of course, it all makes perfect sense.

If I wanted to be a really harsh critic of the plot then, obviously, the fact that there were no warning signs of psychopathic behaviour before the kids committed the largest crimes possible (instead of working their way up to them) made the story a little bit ridiculous. The trio did a couple of naughty rather than particularly evil things such as spying on the little girl's sister, played by Julie Brown, as she danced naked, but it was too little and in the wrong chronological order to make up for the earlier lack of realism.

A bigger problem was that children of their size simply wouldn't have the physical strength to do many of the things which they did in this movie. Strangling an adult with a skipping rope might be possible, but beating a cop to death with a baseball bat certainly wouldn't be. As for firing a pistol, well, anyone who has ever fired a gun knows that the recoil would have sent the little twerp who was holding it with one hand straight off to the hospital.

Lori Lethin was the heroic eyecandy in all this and she was okay for the time. Although she did her own stunts and had a really nice body, she was occasionally annoying. Running from a car in a scrapyard by staying directly in front of it wasn't exactly smart. I would have preferred it if Susan Strasberg, who played a rather strict teacher for all of five minutes, had been the heroine. She was gorgeous. When the kid with glasses shot her, I thought, "What a waste!"

The kills were very much in the same vein as "Friday the 13th" (which was actually made later but released first) and the other slasher clones. There wasn't a lot to see, but one murder with a bow and arrow was exceptionally well done. I didn't quite understand what the motivation was for it even so. Jealousy, vengeance or some kind of morality warning? Who knows?

I did enjoy "Bloody Birthday" as it played out towards a rather satisfying ending and an even more predictable epilogue. Surprisingly, given its flaws, I'm going to put it in "The Vault". The way the subject matter was treated with such seriousness when a more inept cast could have accidentally turned it into yet another lame comedy made this a lot better than most horror movies from the same time.

Just for the sheer bravery of showing kids as the selfish, psychopathic little buggers that we all know they really are, I'm rating this as a 6 out of 10. This wasn't a "so bad, its good" movie (such things don't exist in my world anyway), but was "so good, it's a shame that it wasn't even better".

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