Arrow Video: Bloody Birthday (1981) - Reviewed

The Brody triplets are born under a bad sign!  They begin a string of murders leading up to their 10th birthday party and the worst part about the whole thing is that they are able to easily convince everyone that they are innocent!  Part of the terror they cause is tormenting their neighbor Timmy (K.C. Martel). Using her knowledge of astrology, his older sister Joyce (Lori Lethin) and he are the only two who can see the writing on the wall!  They must convince the rest of the neighborhood before they become the next victims of these bad seeds!

For such a trashy '80s flick, obviously cashing in on the “calendar date” slashers like Halloween and Friday the 13th, Bloody Birthday is a fun 90 minutes.  There are a few gratuitous boob shots, that in my opinion border on pornography (sure, a nipple is a nipple but when it’s played with for an extended period of time on camera…), but in perspective, each scene moves the plot along and the movie never slows down.  The kids who play the triplets do so with noticeable joy!  Some audiences might think the acting to be over the top, but if you go in with a love of melodrama, camp, and absurdity, you’ll find the acting right on point. Elizabeth Hoy as Debbie Brody steals the show, invoking the deceptiveness of Patty McCormack in The Bad Seed before her. Also noteworthy, Julie Brown plays the peeping-tom victim older sister of the triplets in one of her earliest film roles.

Some of the plot points are a little absurd and unbelievable, but it’s forgivable for the sheer reason that it allows the audience to have fun and to laugh.  The kill scenes, while violent and sometimes shocking, are not a special effects gore-fest, but again, this is made up for with charm.  

The Arrow Video Blu-ray has a retrospective interview done present day with Lori Lethin, the actress who plays Joyce, as well as an interview with film producer Ken Gord that focuses on his work with the writer-director of Bloody Birthday Ed Hunt.  There is also a discussion about the movie and its impact with film journalist Chris Alexander.  There is an archival interview with the executive producer Max Rosenberg.  For those who enjoy the art of the trailer, the theatrical and promo trailer for the movie are included and they will not disappoint fans of nostalgic horror trailer tropes.  For those who know the movie inside and out, check it out again with either the audio commentary of writer-director Ed Hunt or with The Hysteria Continues podcast.

--Mara Powell