From HOME ALONE to CHILDREN OF THE CORN, movies about dreadful youngsters aren’t exactly novel. But in the case of the 1981 horror BLOODY BIRTHDAY, the kids are not alright. This Ed Hunt film features just about the most brazenly homicidal killers in memory, producing a concoction so vile it’s as delightful as poisoned icing.
You could make the argument that BLOODY BIRTHDAY has at least one twisted foot in the “nature vs. nurture” argument, the notion of genetic inheritance or interplanetary destiny guiding our young to delirious fits of violence. And as the world’s very real young seem to inherit our violence, the sentiment requires more serious analysis than this movie. But what the hell, it was the 80s.
Our tale features three children – Curtis (Billy Jayne), Steven (Andy Freeman) and Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy) – born at the same time during an eclipse. The kids don’t waste much time before they’re slaughtering people. Timmy (K.C. Martel) is on to them, as is his older sister Joyce (Lori Lethin).
While the predators turn their attention toward teachers and other authority figures that piss them off, the townsfolk don’t heed Joyce’s warnings. This is because the youngsters have done a number on her to make her look like a fearful nut. As the bodies pile up, Joyce and Timmy become more isolated from the community and the kids’ reign of terror seems without end.
BLOODY BIRTHDAY hones in on the notion that Curtis, Steven and Debbie have been pre-wired to kill by the lack of Saturn during the eclipse. This, according to Joyce, makes them born without “emotion.” The kids are intensely cold-blooded and remarkably quick to disguise their sociopathic tendencies.
This is perhaps the most fascinating feature of the movie, as we see Curtis lay a trap for Joyce at a birthday party. He manipulates her perfectly and it is almost painful to watch the guests turn on her for daring to accuse such an innocent-looking boy. Jayne’s impeccably self-righteous look, primed through those stupid glasses, is awesome.
It’s also fascinating to watch the hierarchy of the kids as they maim their way through life. They go to great lengths to not get caught and know how to clean up a crime scene, like when Curtis pops off a victim and the children promptly start wiping up the blood with sponges.
Make no mistake about it, BLOODY BIRTHDAY is disturbing. This is no loss of innocence tale because there never was any innocence to begin with. This is sheer, gruesome despair, a vicious yarn woven by the hands of fate and left to rot on the vine of natural terror. In other words, it’s a treat.