Bloody Birthday (1981)

Ed Hunt

Lori Lethin - Joyce Russel
K.C. Martel - Timmy Russel
Elizabeth Hoy - Debbie Brody
Billy Jayne - Curtis Taylor
Andy Freeman - Steven Seton
Beverly Brody - Julie Brown

Genre - Horror/Thriller

Running Time - 85 Minutes

Score - 3 Howls Outta 4

As I'm approaching the big 3-0 in 22 months, the thought of settling down and having a boat load of children becomes more of a possibility. Hell, seeing my friends having children would make any single guy with father and committment issues question when the time is right to unleash his wolf spawn to the world. Each and every day, I always tell myself: 'Yeah, I definitely want to bring children to this world. Nothing would make me happier.'

Then I watch a film like BLOODY BIRTHDAY and I change my mind about the whole 'kid' thing. Little bastards...

BLOODY BIRTHDAY is a lost early 80's suspense horror/thriller involving evil kids that do what they do best: KILL!!! Add a young [and naked] Julie Brown, cameos from Joe Penny, Jose Ferrer, and Michael fuckin' Dudikoff, and some weird astrology shit - and you get a strange little flick that's fun to watch. Octomom, watch out! This may be your life in a few years!

On June 9, 1970, three women in Meadowvale, California give birth during a total solar eclipse. Since no one takes astrology all that seriously, they don't realize that when the moon and the sun block Saturn, kids are born without a conscience. No harm can come from that, right?

Ten years pass and these three children - Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy), Curtis (Billy Jayne), and Steven (Andy Freeman) - are the best of friends...WHO KILL! Forget tag and hide-and-seek. These kids like strangling people, shooting bitchy teachers in the head, smashing heads with a baseball bat, collecting news articles about the murders in a scrapbook, and looking to peepholes to see their friend's sister dance naked in her bedroom. Why couldn't I have friends like this growing up?

Anyway, some nosy little bastard named Timmy (K.C. Martel) notices these kids' behavior once certain members of the community end up being murdered right in their vacinity. This obviously paints a target on Timmy's ass, as well as his sister Joyce (Lori Lethin), who begins to notice the behavior as well. Will these evil hellspawn take over this town? Will Joyce, Timmy, and Lassie stop them?

What was that boy? You believe the children are the future?

What was that again? Teach them well and let them lead the way?

Oh Lassie, you really do know the greatest love of all...

BLOODY BIRTHDAY is honestly a film I was not at all expecting. I was expecting a really gory birthday party of sorts here, but you don't get that at all here. So yeah, the title is pretty misleading for the most part. But I got to say that evil children entertain the hell out of me so BLOODY BIRTHDAY pretty much won me over and left me with a smile on my face.

I will admit that the narrative isn't really the film's strong suit here. While interesting things do happen from time to time, BLOODY BIRTHDAY pretty much meanders over the course of days without any real point to it other than to showcase how evil these children are. Characters come and go, for reasons I really can't explain to you, that don't add much to the plot at all. As a matter of fact, some of these scenes could have been left out and not have hurt the film at all. Did we really need Joyce's college boyfriend popping up just to make out with her and incite this monologue about not wanting to go to college or something just for him to disappear for the rest of the film without a single mention? What's the point? People get murdered and it's like "whatever" sometimes, especially when these three kids have been at every crime scene. You get this explanation about how being born during a solar eclipse will prevent you from having a conscience, but it's all exposition and we're not really sure if that's even the real reason for their behavior. Maybe they had really fucked up parents! Maybe they woke up one day and realized that they're purpose in life is to write reviews for really crappy films as they cry away to sleep! It could have been a lot of things. More background about the astrological portion of the film would have been appreciated.

Also, I was figuring this would lead to the goriest birthday party next to HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, but I got the total opposite! No one died during the birthday party. It was the most non-violent portion of the film! False advertisement and the Wolf doesn't like false advertisements! Boo to you for getting my hopes up, BLOODY BIRTHDAY!

Still, I can't help to be entertained by this film. The three villains of the film are pretty nasty and actually take pleasure in knowing that. What to see Debbie's sister naked through the peephole? Pay her a dime to see boobs and a quarter to see the full monty. Hate that teacher who takes her anger out on you because she ain't gettin' any? Shoot the bitch and stuff her in a closet! Disrespect authority, even if he is your father? Bash him with a baseball bat and make bacon out of him! Want to make sure there are no witnesses to your crimes? Try and run them over while wearing a sheet to look like a ghost? Michael Jackson does it all the time. Why can't you, right? These kids are pretty awesome and all have distinct personalities, making the murder scenes a lot of fun. And while they're brutal [8 people get killed in this film], they're not particularly bloody. But that's okay because you totally believe every sequence these children are in. They mean business and not once do you feel silly about the whole thing. The villains overshadow the protagonists/heroes of the film quite a bit, so I was rooting for these evil bastards. And it was a lot of fun doing so.

And you really can't complain when you get to see boobs. Especially Julie Brown's boobs. Very VERY nice, Julie. You also get some other ladies showing us their headlights as well, which I had absolutely no complaints about. As a matter of fact, they lit up my candle everytime they appeared. I could have done without that one dude's ass, but what can you do? I guess the ladies need to enjoy themselves too.

The direction by Ed Hunt was actually very good. I found the film to be well paced, even with these useless scenes intact. The killing scenes were full of tension and suspense, even though you knew what was gonna happen. They also weren't cut away from the actual acts either, allowing the viewer to see every part of the victim's demise. Hunt focuses on the characters and we get to know them pretty well through reaction shots and great editing. I have no complaints about the visuals. Ed Hunt gets two thumbs up from me.

The acting for BLOODY BIRTHDAY was surprisingly above average, which I appreciated. Even though Andy Freeman didn't do much as Steven, the other two child actors [Elizabeth Hoy and especially Billy Jayne] did a really bang-up job bringing evil to life as Debbie and Curtis. Hoy played the innocent little girl-next-door type, even though she was obviously the mastermind of the trio. Jayne played the brains of the group and probably the most evilest of the three, as he seemed to enjoy hurting people. I was totally convinced of their villainy and that's due to their great acting. K.C. Martel as Timmy was also credible as the good kid and played a nice foil to the evil trio. Lori Lethin didn't really impress me much as Joyce at the beginning, but once her character was being made to seem insane, I liked her acting more. Plus she was kind of cute too. Even hotter was Julie Brown, who showed us she was more than just a comedic actress. And by that, I mean I got to see her naked boobies and her fine ass. Whoo! Thank you, Ms. Brown! And of course we get cameos from Jake and The Fat Man's Joe Penny, Jose Ferrer, and AMERICAN NINJA's Michael Dudikoff. Not a bad cast at all.


- Don't ever play "Ambulance" with your lover inside of a graveyard at night. When the date is over, the only game anyone will be playing is "Guess Who's Inside The Bodybag?" How morbidly fun!

- A cop asked a bunch of 10-year-olds, "What is murder?" I would have answered with 'forcing someone to watch a 24-hour marathon of The Hills and The City.' But then again, we're all different.

- Julie Brown stripped in front of a peephole for 2 horny young boys. EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY and thank God for it!

- The little kids bashed some cop's brains in with a baseball bat. Who needs steroids or Madonna when you can hit a homerun each time at bat before the age of 10?

- The little kids shot a bitchy teacher in the head. Talk about taking it in the face. And she didn't even teach sex education!

- One of the kids dressed up as a ghost and tried to run over Joyce with a car. Looks like the Phantom Racer strikes again!

- A couple having sex in the back of the van were shot in the face after they were done. I think these results were more effective than the actual shot the dude made with his "actual" gun. I'm not saying the dude was shooting blanks, but the look on the girl's face says otherwise.

- Debbie shot her sister dead with an arrow through the eye. Some people need to remember that arrows only work on Valentine's Day. Otherwise, you'll be giving love a bad name.

- Debbie invited Joyce to babysit her at 7pm, to which Joyce agreed to. Doesn't Joyce realize that bad things happen to babysitters? Doesn't this bitch watch horror movies?

- The kids shot through a 1980 Van Halen poster. Apparently they're Van Hagar fans.

While deceptive in name and weak wise in plot, BLOODY BIRTHDAY still does enough to entertain and make watching young people kill fun to watch. Definitely worth a rental if you're into "Evil Kids" flicks like THE BAD SEED and THE VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED. Gorehounds will be disappointed but anyone looking for a suspenseful good time will get a kick out of this one.


The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents: Dragonball Evolution (2009)

James Wong

Justin Chatwin - Goku
James Marsters - Lord Piccolo
Jamie Chung - Chi Chi
Emmy Rossum - Bulma Briefs
Chow Yun-Fat - Master Roshi
Joon Park - Yamcha
Eriko Tamura - Mai
Randall Duk Kim - Grandpa Gohan
Ernie Hudson - Sifu Norris

Genre - Action/Aventure

Running Time - 84 Minutes

Score - BOMB

The island of Japan has gifted us with many things over the years. I'm talking about automobiles that don't break down once you turn on the ignition. I'm talking about the video games that help us escape from the real world. I'm talking about those wacky game shows that make us laugh at how dumb they are. And in terms of this review, I'm talking about manga and the anime inspired by it. Probably one of the most popular Japanese exports has been the extremely popular Dragonball anime series. The Cartoon Network benefited from it with huge ratings. The video game franchise has sold more than a billion copies worldwide. Apparently watching cartoon characters beat the crap out of each other with their bodies and insane power blasts has captivated many into turning Dragonball into a powerful franchise.

Unfortunately, the popularity of TV shows, cartoons, and video games only lead to really crappy live-action adaptations filmed for the big screen. Dragonball already had two films made based on the manga and anime series, but they were both Asian productions. Since Hollywood feels Western Culture is superior and more revelant, they decided to take a chance at making a Dragonball movie with both American and Asian actors and unleash it onto the unsuspecting public. The result is DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION, a film that was in post-production hell for over a year and during a time when the Dragonball phenomenon is pretty much past its peak.

To be honest, I'm not sure what DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION is actually evolving here. All I know for sure is that it's not evolving anything remotely good and is probably making Charles Darwin roll in his grave as you read this. To think that I thought STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI was the Worst Film of 2009. Funny how that quickly changed within six weeks, because DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION is one of the worst films I've seen in my life - in any year. Let's Kame-hame-ha this fucker into Hollywood obscurity, shall we?

Goku (Justin Chatwin) is your standard high school teenager who seems to possess power that he has yet to tap into. This knowledge [or his bad acting, I'm not sure] has made him an outcast of sorts with his peers, constantly getting picked on, although a girl named Chi Chi (Jamie Chung) sort of digs him and vice-versa. Speaking of Chi Chi, her parents must be celebrities because no normal couple would curse their child with such a ridiculous name. Anyway, Goku's grandpa Gohan (Randall Duk Kim) warns Goku about some upcoming armageddon involving a solar eclipse due to the return of an alien life form named Loard Piccolo (James Marsters) and his sidekick Mai (Eriko Tamura). They both plan on collecting 7 Dragonballs in order to fulfill some legend that will grant them both great power. When Gohan's warnings lead to tragedy, Goku decides to hunt down the Dragonballs with the help of Lara Croft wannabe Bulma (Emmy Rossum), thief Yamcha (Joon Park), and Master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat). Will Goku and his new friends stop Piccolo and save the day? Will Piccolo succeed? Does anyone give a flying fuck? No? Alrighty then.

I have three words for DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION:


I'm not a fan of this Dragonball stuff but I've seen some episodes because my cousins love this stuff and play the video games. Hell, they'll debate about Dragonball for hours on end and discuss all the sagas, while I scratch my head wondering what in the fuck they're talking about. But I can tell you that I know enough and have seen enough to say that DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION is NOTHING like the manga or anime series it's based on. Shit, I thought this film was a joke on the fans who made this franchise as big as it is. But this was a serious project and pretty much shows how clueless Hollywood is right now.

The story is, well, how can I say this without offending the screenwriters...okay...it's really fuckin' retarded. Instead of actually taking themes and storylines from the cartoon it's based on [because that would make SENSE!], James Wong and Ben Ramsey decide to use that Hollywood cliche that involves a young man who has a destiny and must go on an adventure to figure out what it is. Of course, he meets friends who join him to help him achieve the answers he seeks, including that old dude who trains the young man to "Wax On" and "Wax Off". The young man doesn't figure out the truth until he confronts the villain of the film, leading to a showdown that reveals his true potential. Happily ever after, right?

Are you choking my chicken!?

Dragonball was about action. It was about violence. It was about wacky characters blasting each other with their inner energies all for the sake of seven Dragonballs. Instead, DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION decided to turn the franchise into a badly done THE KARATE KID meets THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK hybrid that doesn't work the moment it's implemented on celluoid! The characters are badly written and developed. Maybe fans would care about them, but what about those who aren't familar with this franchise? They have nothing to hold on to. No origins. No setting up events properly. Why should I care for these idiots? Goku was loved in the manga and anime series because he was motivated to become a better martial artist and unlock his full Super Saiyan potential. Instead, he's a love sick puppy out for revenge. Even that isn't developed all that much. What's the point then? And the rest of the characters aren't even like the characters they're based on. Yamcha doesn't know any martial arts, although he and Goku have a rivalry in the cartoon. Bulma is an annoying Lara Croft ripoff with a voice that made me regret not putting on earplugs. Even the environment of the cartoon, which was a character in itself, has been replaced by generic North American visuals. If you're not gonna make a film right, then don't spend $100 million on it.

Also, there is an actual love story in this film and it's pretty much forced on you. Maybe if Goku's and Chi Chi's attraction to each other was actually developed into something believable, it would have been okay. But the filmmakers pretty much expect you to root for these two together even though you have no idea WHY they should be together in the first place. Plus, they're barely in the film together much anyway, so what's the point? Same goes for Bulma and Yamchi, who seem to dig each other even though they were trying to kill each other an hour before. Did I miss something?

Even the whole concept of one's "ki" was screwed up. It's never really explained how it works and/or its purpose. Nor is it a plot point that one would care for. Sure, they set up the whole Kame-hame-ha thing, but it's all exposition and not of it is interesting. I learned more from THE LAST DRAGON than I did here. At least I know what the "glow" is!

The action sequences are absolutely horrible here. These scenes could have been the saving grace of the film, but they're just as bad as the development of the screenplay. They're short and don't leave much of an impression. They're not even exciting or fun to watch. They're hacked in the editing room, giving us close-ups at random moments to the point where we don't see what the fuck is going on. I'm not sure this was done to look cool or hide the fact that stunt doubles probably handled the physical stuff, but they were shot horribly all the same. The best fight scene was near the beginning between Goku and some of his High School peers. The sad thing is that Goku didn't even raise a fist the entire time, letting the bullies beat each other up. Dragonball is about the action and DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION did not deliver at all.

What also doesn't deliver are the special effects. They were Sci-Fi Channel calibre - really unconvincing and not at all impressive. The Kame-hame-ha is supposed to be the most powerful move in the Dragonball universe, yet it's only used to light lanterns during a training sequence. And when used on Lord Piccolo, it barely left a scratch on him. Really? This is a Dragonball movie? I think the HANNAH MONTANA movie probably has special effects superior to this one. Where in the hell did the $100 million go, guys? Oh yeah - for Bulma's ball turning into her motorcycle. And Goku transforming into some CGI beast that makes The Hulk realistic. Smallville has better effects than this film. That's fuckin' pathetic.

James Wong, who directed 2001's THE ONE, was the wrong person to direct this. The pacing was totally off and the film felt rushed as hell. Wong seemed more concerned with moving from one set piece to the next without the need of a narrative to make it flow properly. Also, Wong has no handle on action. The scenes are badly chopped up to the point where you don't know what the hell is going on. The framing is awkward at times as well. THE ONE is a much better effort than DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION could ever be and that's sad when the former was made 8 years ago. Aren't directors supposed to get better? Yeah, the script sucks but a director is supposed to overcome that with cool visuals. This film is a total failure.

The acting in this film is really bad. Justin Chatwin, who most probably remember as the lead in last year's THE INVISIBLE, is horribly miscast as Goku. Chatwin looks nothing like the character or even acts like the character. Plus he's not the type of actor that can really carry a film of this nature. He was bland, I felt. James Marsters, who's best known as Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, plays one of the most boring and misused villains in cinematic history in Lord Piccolo. For the main antagonist, he's barely in the film and he doesn't do anything or even talk all that much. You have a good actor who can play a great villain [judging by his past roles] but you don't throw him a bone to chew on? Terrible usage here. Jamie Chung is cute as Chi Chi but is nothing but the token girlfriend character. Emmy Rossum annoyed me as Bulma, speaking in a cutesy voice that was supposed to sound tough but just made me want someone to smack her around and shut her up. Talk about overacting. And Chow Yun-Fat may be the best of all the actors here, but even he's embarassing to watch as Master Roshi. At least he looks like he's having fun hamming it up. Or maybe he was acting while intoxicated. I wouldn't blame the guy if he was. Just wished he would have shared some with me for this review.


- Goku received a ball for his birthday. If he didn't suffer through testicular cancer or is completely hetero, then I feel that this gift is really inappropriate.

- Lord Piccolo was so upset about not finding Goku's Dragonball that he crushed Gohan within his own home. Now I know who to blame for the mortage crisis.

- Bulma considers Master Roshi to be a dirty old man, after seeing his swimsuit issues and him grabbing her ass. I don't see why she's so offended. Britney Spears experienced the same thing and she turned out okay, didn't she?

- Goku had to focus his ki to achieve the Kame-hame-ha ability. I wish James Wong would had focused his ki to make a better film so I wouldn't have to suffer through 84 long minutes. I guess some ki is stronger than others.

- Piccolo had Mai shift-shape into a doppelganger for Chi Chi. Two Chi Chi's? And he's supposed to be the villain? Shit, give the guy all the Dragonballs and a medal!

- When the 7 Dragonballs are placed together, one can make a wish. I wish I didn't have to watch this crap for a review. But apparently that didn't come true. Fuck you, DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION!

DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION is by far my top pick for Worst of 2009 so far. It's just a really stupid movie that's nothing more than a huge waste of time, money, and energy. Dragonball fans should stay away. Everyone else should stay away. This film will leave no one happy. I'm blasting DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION into the WTF? Vault where it belongs. If only Bernie Madoff had stolen the $100 million used to make this crap. Sigh...

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