Cody turned another year older this week and celebrated by watching an '80s slasher.
BLOODY BIRTHDAY (1981)
The killer tyke (see The Children (1980), the Children of the Corn series) and holiday/notable day slasher (Friday the 13th, Halloween) worlds collide in this film, which begins in Meadowvale, California on June 9, 1970, as three children are born during the moments in which the day has been darkened by a total solar eclipse.
Ten years later, those three children - Curtis, Steven, and Debbie - are best friends, such a tight-knit trio that they have joint birthday parties "everyone in town" shows up for. They seem to be perfect little angels, smart and polite. But beneath that facade, they're actually twisted, violent sociopaths, and as their tenth birthday celebration nears, the children set off on a killing spree.
Their first victims are, of course, a horny teenage couple. The teens sneak into a cemetery after dark to do some making out and heavy petting, and when that progresses to the next level, they jump into a pre-dug, empty grave to get enough privacy to have sex. It's all very romantic, until the guy gets beat to death with a shovel and the girl strangled with a jump rope.
From then on, no one is safe from these kids' murderous impulses. They kill for fun, they kill anyone who might cause them trouble, they kill authority figures who don't let them do what they want. Parents, peers, police officers, teachers, trysting teenagers, siblings, they all fall prey. Between killings, the kids proudly put together a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about their murders. They have to be stopped, but as the title of another killer tyke movie once asked, who can kill a child?
Our protagonists are the Russel siblings: Timmy, a classmate of the treacherous trio who is immune to some of their charms (as far as he's concerned, Curtis is a kiss-ass) and, in contrast to the killers, has a reputation of being a bit of a troublemaker, which makes people question his claims when he says members of the three might be up to no good. And Timmy's bookish teenage sister Joyce, who comes to believe her little brother and, through her interest in astrology, is able to figure out why the killers are the way they are: due to the eclipse on the day they were born, the sun and moon were blocking the Earth from Saturn. Saturn controls emotions and the way you treat people, gives you a conscience. They're missing that part of their personality.
Lori Lethin and KC Martel are a likeable pair as the heroic brother and sister. Elizabeth Hoy, Andy Freeman, and Billy Jacoby (who was awesome as the crossdressing lead's brother in 1985's Just One of the Guys) are total creeps as the killer kids. Another notable cast member is Julie Brown, who would go on to be best known for comedic roles and a music career.
Here, Brown provides the film with some nudity as she plays the older sister of the homicidal little girl. Little Debbie charges the neighborhood boys 25 cents to spy on her undressing sister through the huge peephole in her closet wall. If they look for too long, they have to pay Debbie an extra dime.
Writer/director Ed Hunt and his co-writer Barry Pearson seem to have been taken some inspiration from Halloween in the making of this film, as anyone who's familiar with John Carpenter's 1978 classic will recognize a few similarities - a shot of teenage girls carrying school books while walking and talking their way down the sidewalk, the fact that one of those girls is the daughter of the town Sheriff, that one of the killers wears a sheet ghost costume during an attack sequence... And might the Sheriff being named Brody be a nod to Jaws?
Bloody Birthday is a cool, entertaining little slasher/killer kid flick. If you enjoy these sorts of movies from the '80s, this is one that's definitely worth checking out.