Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Melissa Sue Anderson/Virginia
Glenn Ford/Dr. Faraday
Virginia (Anderson) is part of the "Top 10", the popular click at Crawford Academy (which means they all wear the same ugly scarf). All is dandy until a white sneaker wearing killer prowls about, nixing out the "Top 10" like Dick Clark with rabies. As if the murder/disappearance of her friends wasn't enough, Virginia is also plagued with eerie flashbacks that mean SOMETHING! This one would give ‘Shaggy’ headaches.
You're invited to the bloodiest party of the year.
At first glance, this moody little piece smells like the usual slasher, looks like the usual slasher… but trust me it isn't. My mind was violated. This movie toyed with my noggin from the get go, served up tons of false leads as to what was going down while covering up the identity of its killer like a talented, cheating girlfriend banging your best friend. Yup, this flick's motivation was to mess me up and its mission was freaking accomplished! I was bamboozled!
To be honest, I didn't have many complaints as I was getting rocked by this malicious and red wet little bugger. The whole was well directed with the occasional flash of slick style and bleak mood in tow. The acting was all around decent while the production values were adequate. It should be said that I mucho appreciated the kool “car jumping off an opening bridge” bit and the thrilling motor-cross race. Fun times! Add to that some fly, graphic kills that had me on occasion gasping in “I love this violence” awe and you get a fun macabre ride for the whole Addam’s Family!
On the limp side of the member, the characterization of the ‘Top 10’, was extremely weak, lessening the stakes of the game in the process. My biggest complaint though was that much like a virgin shifting the stick for the first time, the movie tried too damn hard to please with its cap-off! The last 15 minutes had so many twists that I wound up shouting at the screen: NO WAY, F*CK YOU! It should've quit the jerking when it was ahead! They already had me by the jewels after the first surprise!
Overall though, Happy Birthday To Me was a mystery laced and violent little gift that sported hints of nastiness (incest and more) its trunk. It was definitely a slit throat above the usual slasher flick and was way worth the watch. Blow this candle! ZIPPPP!
This flick gotdownright nasty when it came to the red slosh. I'm talking, slit throat, death by ‘brochette’ (kool), stabbings, death by barbell and one disgusting brain surgery scene. Yuck!
Melissa Sue Anderson (Virginia) delivered the goods. She hit all the right notes and dare I say was extremely gorgeous. It was swell to see her out of that little house in the prairie. Glenn Ford (Faraday) played the caring doctor adequately. The part wasn't too demanding. Lawrence Dane (Hal) was creepy as the "way too caring" dad. He gave me goosebumps and kept me guessing. David Eisner (Rudi) didn't really stand out as one of the Top 10 and the only reason I'm mentioning him is : He did wicked impressions of Quasimodo and Igor.
T & A
It blows my mind that no nudity graced this film. Not even one single nipple. How rude!
The visuals were mostly straight forward with the occasional kool shot and creepy flashback sequences kicking in. Actually, everytime Virginia was in the bathroom, the movie’s style cranked up a notch to "eerie" vibe. I also dug the use of overlapping sound to transition from one scene to the next. Very effective. Nice show Mr. Thomson.
We get a generic slasher score and the occasional "one note" chilling flashback score.
Distribution: Columbia Tri Star
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
EXTRAS: We get Happy Birth None Whatsoever Day
Happy Birthday To Me was definitely worth my time! Sure, it still followed the dumb slasher conventions to the letter (like the opening victim who just won't run away from the killer) and didn't know when to quit with the twists but I couldn’t help respecting its ambitious nature anyway. The movie actually had me debating it's events out-loud the whole way through. When a movie makes me talk to myself like a Loony Bin resident… that means it's on to something. I'll compare this brutal flick to a steamy one night stand. She's great in bed, got all the right moves, is talented with the tongue but she keeps on going, ignoring the fact that I already came. Silly girl…
This flick was produced by John Dunning and Andre Link, the same dudes that produced My Bloody Valentine.
A quote from this review can be found inside the newest DVD release of the film. YIPPEE!