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Bloody Birthday is a So Bad it’s Good Masterpiece

Joyce (Lori Lethin) and her brother Timmy (K.C. Martel) doing some research on astrology in Ed Hunt's Bloody Birthday.

Bloody Birthday sees three children that were born on the eve of an eclipse preparing for a giant celebration in honor of their tenth birthday. Because their birth occurred during an eclipse, the youngsters were born without a conscience. Without guilt or fear of repercussions, the youths are more than happy to execute anyone standing in the way of their perfect birthday party.

Bloody Birthday is co-written and directed by Ed Hunt (The Brain). Though it often veers into ‘so bad it’s good’ territory, this film is a really fun time. There’s nothing beneath the surface. But what’s on the surface is hard not to enjoy. Hunt wasn’t going for the camp factor but the camp factor is an ever-present driving force within the film. The film is rife with overacting. The set pieces are flimsy. The death scenes are overly dramatic. And their is an obvious absence of a budget. But all of these factors work together to create an unintentional but undeniable magic.

Bloody Birthday is a movie that may not have been anything special at the time of its release but after more than 30 years have passed the film can be appreciated for what it is and for what it isn’t. It invokes nostalgia in its audience and reminds us of a simpler time when being politically correct wasn’t a major concern and slasher films were a dime a dozen.

While the acting isn’t spectacular, the casting makes up for that. The killer kids convincingly convey that they are evil incarnate and Lori Lethin (Return to Horror High) is perfectly cast as the final girl, Joyce. Lethin is a resourceful and tough final girl that isn’t afraid to go toe to toe with the wicked little deviants. She’s very likable and easy for the audience to relate to.

Also See: Campy Doesn’t Have to Mean Crappy: Finding Value in Campy Horror

For as violent as the film is, there isn’t a lot of actual gore. Bloody Birthday was shot on a shoestring budget, so the effects are more understated than I would prefer. But while the amount of bloodshed is paltry, the dramatic fashion in which the deaths are choreographed makes up for a lot of what is lacking.

The film’s lack of onscreen carnage is further made up for by the copious amounts of nudity in Bloody Birthday. There are several different nude scenes and all of them are highly gratuitous and entirely unnecessary. Like the film’s numerous other quirks, its over-reliance on nudity to keep itself afloat only adds to its nostalgic magic and unintentional charm.

Bloody Birthday was shot on a nonexistent budget over the course of a couple of weeks. There are not a lot of frills to the film but it still manages to be highly enjoyable. It is unabashed in its glorification of gratuitous sex and it’s not afraid to prominently depict ten-year-old children killing naked teenagers that are in the middle of screwing. It also doesn’t shy away from giving those same youngsters a giant eyeful of Julie Brown (Earth Girls are Easy) prancing around her room topless. This film breaks a lot of taboos and gets away with things that would never fly if this film were made in the present.

Bloody Birthday is a nostalgic good time that is often politically incorrect. It is full of ‘so bad it’s good’ dialogue and offers a hefty helping of gratuitous nudity. If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking out this flick, it should be on your radar. The Severin DVD release offers a new video interview with Lori Lethin, an audio interview with Ed Hunt, and the best picture and sound quality of any version of the film to date. As of this posting, Bloody Birthday is available to stream via Netflix.

WICKED RATING: 7/10  

Director(s): Ed Hunt
Writer(s): Ed Hunt, Barry Pearson
Stars: Lori Lethin, Julie Brown
Year: 1981
Studio/ Production Co: Judica Productions
Budget: Unknown
Language: English
Length: 85 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Slasher

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Written by Tyler Doupé
Tyler Doupe' is the managing editor at Wicked Horror. He has previously penned for Fangoria Mag, Rue Morgue Mag, FEARnet, Fandango, ConTV, Ranker, Shock Till You Drop, ChillerTV, ComingSoon, and more. He lives with his husband, his dogs, and cat hat(s).
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