Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

I was looking through my library of movie recordings, because I needed another Bad Movie of the Week. This one is Bloody Birthday, and the title gives it away. It has got to be a bad movie, a slasher flick, nonetheless, from 1981. Gratuitous sex and violence, to be sure. Details are from Wikipedia.

This features Susan Strasberg as school teacher Viola Davis. José Ferrer plays the doctor in both the plot’s two time periods.

The opening scene features a solar eclipse, which is significant. It’s 9 June 1970 in Meadowvale, California, which helps to demonstrate this is pure fiction. There is no Meadowvale, California, and there was no solar eclipse on that day. Three babies are born at the same time in Meadowvale during the eclipse. This has consequences ten years later, beginning on 1 June 1980.

Two teenagers are doing some heavy necking in a parked car, and they take their lust into an open grave in the cemetery. Just when things start to get interesting, there is a noise. The boy steps outside to investigate. Whango! Somebody conks him with a shovel. Alarmed, the girl sits upright. Sprong! Somebody loops a jumping rope around her neck, and that’s all for her. This movie is getting off to a slasher start.

BloodyBirthday-01

Of course, it’s the three children, two boys and a girl, born on that fateful day in June ten years previous. They are the Little Rascals on steroids, right out of Village of the Damned. They always celebrate their birthdays at one big party. Hence the title.

The little girl, Debbie Brody (Elizabeth Hoy) has engineered a peephole in a closet wall, enabling spying on her teenage sister Beverly (Julie Brown) while she is getting dressed. She charges the little boys 25 cents a peek.

BloodyBirthday-02

Time for somebody else to die. This time it’s Debbie’s father, Sheriff James Brody (Bert Kramer). She sweetly lures him outside in the back yard to show him the jump rope used as a murder weapon. Young Steven Seton (Andy Freeman) finishes him off with a baseball bat. The kids say it was an accident. He fell on the stairs.

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It’s the unsavory teacher’s turn next. Curtis Taylor (Billy Jayne), using a pistol stolen from the late Sheriff, ambushes her in the school kitchen.

BloodyBirthday-04

Meanwhile brother and sister Timmy (K.C. Martel) and Joyce Russell (Lori Lethin) have been observing with interest all the people turning up dead in the week leading up to the big birthday party. Joyce gets suspicious, and the murderous kids try to rub her out with a runaway car in a nearby junkyard.

BloodyBirthday-05

That fails, and there is an interlude that has Joyce explaining to Timmy why Debbie’s horoscope is so fraught with evil. The Earth, moon, sun, and Saturn were aligned when she was born. She will have no compassion and no remorse.

BloodyBirthday-06

The killing goes on as Curtis comes upon two additional teenage lovers, going full carnal in the back of a van. His trusty sixgun takes care of that.

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It’s time for Debbie’s big sister to take the fall. Debbie lines up an arrow with the peephole and suckers inquisitive Beverly into taking a look.

BloodyBirthday-08

Finally the children of the damned stretch their luck too far. Their plan to gun down Timmy and Joyce fails from gross incompetence, and the boys are captured. The jig is, as they say, up. Little Debbie escapes and is spirited away by her mother.

BloodyBirthday-09

A new life is planned by the widow Brody. They plan to live the remainder of their lives on the run with assumed names. Debbie is cool with that, and as they prepare to leave a cheap motel she murders a trucker by removing the jack that had been holding up the truck he was working under. Sweet child.

BloodyBirthday-10

No need to explain why this is a bad movie. Some cheap thrills and an implausible plot spell it all.

Strasberg did not go on to greater things after this movie. The only other of her films I saw (didn’t seen Picnic) was Rollercoaster, previously reviewed. I just reviewed Ferrer in Brannigan. He was Captain Alfred Dreyfus in I Accuse!, which he also directed. He obtained an Academy Award nod for his portrayal of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in Moulin Rouge and a BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor as Navy Attorney Lt. Barney Greenwald in The Caine Mutiny. The year after this came out Martel had another kid role in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. That may have been his only other movie. Two years later Billy Jayne had a role in Cujo, but not much else worth mentioning. Sweet Elizabeth Hoy was in The Blues Brothers the year before, and not much else after. She was Young Susan the same year as this in Hospital Massacre, another slasher. This appears to be Andy Freeman’s only serious (??) work.

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One thought on “Bad Movie of the Week

  1. Pingback: Bad Movie of the Week | Skeptical Analysis

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