FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jan 12, 2007

Children Hate You Week: Day 5

Here we are, darling readers, at the end of the very first Children Hate You! Week- the first, but I assure you, not the last. Despite hours and hours of self analysis*, I have no clue as to why I enjoy Children Hate You! movies so very much- yes, I love them even more than I love Animals Run Amok! movies. Perhaps I love them for the same reasons I love Killer Doll! movies- they're both terrifying and hysterical in their inappropriateness. No matter how truly awful a killer kiddie flick is, they're still a bit depraved and just plain wrong...yet...they're funny. In a word, I find them delicious.

What a delight, then, that the final film of the week, Bloody Birthday (1981), is magically fucking delicious.

Three children- Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy), Curtis (Billy Jacoby), and Steven (Andy Freeman)-are born simultaneously during a solar eclipse. Because both the moon and the sun are blocking Saturn during their birth, the kids are born without what Jennifer Aniston would call a "sensitivity chip". Apparently Saturn is the house of feeling and emotion, and without Saturn in their star charts, well, the kids are naught but ticking time bombs. If only Micki Dahne had been present at the births, perhaps she could have foretold of the doom and disaster! Sadly, she wasn't- and so the people of quaint l'il Meadowvale, California are in for a nasty surprise.

The surprise comes along ten years later. A young couple is quietly necking in a cemetery late one balmy evening. When they're ready to move on to...uh, Advanced Necking Theory, they decide to get some privacy. Rather than heading to a bedroom or backseat, however, the couple jumps into an open grave to get away from prying eyes. Omigod, I know...isn't that hot? Faster than you can say "God made dirt and dirt don't hurt, but that doesn't mean I want it in my hair", someone's whacking The Boy in the face with a shovel- and oh, what a whack! Were I but technologically advanced enough to upload sound clips of the WHUMP!s for you- you'd be delighted. Meanwhile, The Girl ends up strangled to death by a jump rope, and therefore it seems safe to assume that a senior citizen is not the homicidal culprit.

It turns out that Debbie's father (Bert Kramer) is the sheriff, and he's no dummy. There was a piece of evidence left at the scene of the graveyard murders- a jump rope handle. The sheriff heads right to Meadowvale Elementary and begins asking the students if they know what "murder" means. Steven quips to Curtis, "What does he think we are, babies?" and the sheriff leaves without any answers.

Before they head out the door as well, our darling trio asks their bitchy teacher Miss Davis (Susan Strasberg) if the class can be excused from homework the next Monday- it's the day of their big birthday party, after all. Miss Davis refuses, replying "Just because you all have the same birthday doesn't mean you're special!". Oh, Miss Davis, methinks that was a no-no.

The scene shifts to Debbie's house, where the kids have set up a trap for that nosy ol' sheriff- the old skateboard-on-the-stairs trick! When the sheriff easily avoids stepping on the skateboard, however, Steven simply beats Debbie's father to death with a baseball bat. Debbie just smirks- what an angel! When they think they've been spotted by a classmate, Timmy Russel (KC Martel), the murderous Eclipse Babies make like the sheriff just...fell down the stairs. That's good enough for the medical examiner and the death is chalked up to a terrible accident.

As if being complicit in the murder of her father wasn't enough to prove that Debbie has no family values, we soon learn that she's also drilled a hole in her closet wall, creating a nice little peephole into her sister Beverly's room. Beverly (Julie Brown) seems to enjoy stripping and dancing around her bedroom topless; entrepreneurial Debbie sells tickets, charging neighborhood boys a quarter a peep. Hey, it beats having a paper route.

As I mentioned earlier, the kids thought Timmy caught sight of their nefarious doings- seems there's another loose end to tie up! It's no problem for our little sociopaths, however. They lure Timmy to the junkyard for a game of hide-and-seek, Curtis locks Timmy in an old refrigerator, and they leave him to die. Timmy gets his MacGuyver on, though, and manages to escape. He proceeds to beat the crap out of Curtis. Oh, Timmy, methinks that was a no-no.

Speaking of no-nos, what of that uptight Miss Davis? While the Eclipse Babies may be lacking feelings and emotions, they're certainly not lacking the party spirit like their teacher. She ends up shot in the back- Curtis has pilfered the late sheriff's service revolver, and he ain't afraid to use it.

Meadowvale has become overrun with murders and Timmy's older sister Joyce (Lori Lethin) has begun putting the pieces together. Though she's not entirely sure yet as to what exactly is going on, Joyce knows enough to know that the Eclipse Babies, particulary Curtis, are a little...hinky. Sigh. Now the Eclipse Babies have to take care of yet another busybody, and so it's off to the junkyard again where they attempt to run Joyce over with a juryrigged car. Those Russels are hard to get rid of, however, and Joyce survives.

Meanwhile, Beverly has found Debbie's scrapbook. Like any good young serial killer, Debbie has been clipping newspaper articles about the Eclipse Babies' murder victims. For some reason, Beverly finds this odd and tells on Debbie. The scrapbook ends up in the fireplace...oh, Beverly, methinks that was a no-no. Before you can say "Peephole bring pleasure, peephole bring pain!", Debbie shoots an arrow through the hole in the wall right smack into Beverly's eye. Debbie calls her accomplices, and the kids dump the body by the curbside trash. Wow, that's cold!

Having lost both her husband and a daughter in a matter of days, Debbie's mom takes off for a little therapy; Joyce is asked to babysit and she brings along Timmy. Determined to take care of the Russel siblings once and for all, the Eclipse Babies wage an all-out assault on Joyce and Timmy. The outcome? Well, let's just say that Bloody Birthday is primed for a sequel...and Debbie possesses a remarkable sense of self-preservation.

Bloody Birthday rocked, y'all! Undoubtedly, it's one of the best movies I've seen in this little subgenre- that's not to say, necessarily, that it's a good movie. Your enjoyment of it, I think, will directly correlate to how much you like Children Hate You! movies. As it is, Bloody Birthday doesn't have much of a plot- it sort of meanders over the course of a few days, and there never seems to be a point to any of it beyond showcasing the depraved acts of these cold-blooded kiddies. You'd think the big birthday party would be the climax of the film, but that's not the case- it comes and goes with nary a crime! It's all fine by me because this flick is nothing if not fun; some of you may find the lack of real happenings disappointing. In other words, some of you might be jerks.

While this movie is full of murderous mayhem, there's a noticeable lack of gore. With the exception of that of poor Beverly, the deaths are brutal yet surprisingly sanitary- that's not, in my opinion, a strike against it. And believe me, what the film lacks in blood it more than makes up for in bare boobs. Early 80s horror at its finest!

The performances throughout are above average for this type of flick, particularly those of Billy Jacoby and Elizabeth Hoy as Curtis and Debbie. They're a couple of cold-hearted snakes, lemme tell you- look into their eyes! Curtis smirks his way through a killing spree while Debbie plays up the innocent little girl act. They're a riot, and I'd love to see them all grown up in Bloody Birthday 2. Someone make the movie right now! The rest of the cast is strong as well, including the pre-Earth Girls Are Easy Julie Brown, a mop-headed Michael Dudikoff, "Jake to William Conrad's Fatman" Joe Penny , and a slumming Jose Ferrer in a brief cameo.

What a great way to end the week; I give it 8 out of 10 Children Who Hate You and the Women Who Love Thems.

*playing videogames


Amanda By Night said...

What a beautiful bit of casting when they got Billy Jacoby to play a killer. I mean, after all his brother IS Bad Ronald!

I love this movie. It's sooooo much fun and yes, very well acted. Lori Lethin was pretty great and it makes me sad that we didn't get to see her in more stuff.

As for Elizabeth Hoy, even though she was on a sweet episode of Magnum P.I., she still scares the hell outta me!

David Lee Ingersoll said...

Psycho children are so cool. I mean, who wasn't psycho as a child?

That's the thing that most movies forget - kids are weird, spastic, alien creatures even when they aren't homicidal.

Anyone who thinks children are little angels either doesn't have kids; is delusional; or has forgotten that SATAN was an angel too.

warrenzone said...

damn, my old roommate had a tape of this and I let it get away unwatched...

Thomas Duke said... can psycho-analyze ones self through video games? Perhaps I am bad at connecting the dots. Maybe when controlling a character, you can distance yourself from your own decision making process, allowing you to analyze it. I'm gonna propose that one the next time I visit that asshole shrink of mine.

I own a Julie Brown Lp single, but I haven't had the balls to listen to it yet. I guess I picked it up because of goodwill that was built up from Earth Girls are Easy.

P.S. was that a Paula Abdul reference at the end there?

Stacie Ponder said...

No, I meant to imply that I *don't* soend hours and hours analyzing mysef; rather, I spend hours and hours playing video games.

And the end is a reference to any one of those self-help.psychology books with "...and the Women Who Love Them" in the title. Any Paula Abdul reference is just a bonus.