What Did I Just Watch: ‘Bloody Birthday’


One of the great things about watching Turner Classic Movies late at night is that every so often they’ll play some of the cheesiest B-movies from the horror genre. Stuff that in retrospect the viewers wonders just what exactly the producers were thinking when they were filming the movie. Of course, that’s not to say that it shouldn’t be enjoyed. On the contrary, some of these movies are just so stupidly terrible that they’re stupidly enjoyable as well.

Take for example the 1981 film Bloody Birthday. Aside from a film title that just screams, “Watch me! I’m cringe-inducing!” Bloody Birthday also features a plot straight out of the Twilight Zone‘s cutting floor. On June 9, 1970, in a SoCal hospital, two boys and a girl are born during a solar eclipse. Somehow through supernatural means, these three kids (Debbie, Curtis, and Stephen) are devoid of a conscience which leads them to a murdering spree around their 10th birthday.

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Now, although the parental instinct in me says to take every little one of those brats to the woodshed, it’s highly doubtful that would be productive. They make a point to engage in all sorts of devious behavior throughout the movie, beginning with the murder of a teenage couple necking in the cemetery. They also manage to murder the sheriff (who happens to be Debbie’s father), as well as their teacher. They try to also murder the little boy who ends up the movie’s protagonist by locking him in an abandoned refrigerator, but the boy escapes.

As if that isn’t enough, Debbie also runs her own profitable peep show by charging the two boys for looking into a peephole in her closet, which looks into her older sister’s (played by Julie Brown) room. She’s literally a pint-sized madame who appears to be the trio’s brains.  Of course, when all is said and done, she uses the peephole to launch an arrow through her older sister’s face.

In the end Curtis and Stephen are arrested and charged while Debbie and her mother jump town under different names. Of course, Debbie can’t resist dropping a truck on top of an unsuspecting trucker as the credits roll.

It’s safe to say that this is a slasher movie and even if it was slightly campy, it’s still an original plot. Most slasher villains aren’t human, can’t be harmed, survive anything and everything, and are giants. There have been horrors about murderous brats beforehand, but none as outright unsettling as this movie. Plus, they made sure (thankfully!) to keep the supernatural intonations down to a minimum.

Still, it’s one of those movies where the acting is wooden and more laughable than terrifying. The kids are more bratty than menacing, and it also has some scenes unnecessary to the plot like the peephole scene. It’s one thing to show these kids are little criminals, but there really wasn’t a reason to show a scantily-clad Brown dancing in her panties and drinking a Coke.

Despite all that, it’s still a fun movie that’s easy to get some kicks. It’s not a convoluted film, and it’s easy to follow. Unless you’re a parent (in that case stay away from this movie), this movie is recommended for a popcorn night at home.