Thursday, October 15, 2009
Happy Birthday to Me (1981, J. Lee Thompson)
When I was a teenager I discovered slasher films. It became my genre of choice when perusing video stores. I would take a chance on any video with an eye catching cover that looked like it had the potential of being a gory slasher. Needless to say, the moment I saw the cover of Happy Birthday to Me I knew I had to see it. I still remember that my local Stop and Shop (which I still do my grocery shopping at) used to rent videos and that is where I first saw this film, roughly 13 or so years ago.
Happy Birthday to Me follows Virginia (Melissa Sue Anderson from Little House on the Prairie), a student at a private school where she is part of "the top 10", a group of ten carefree and occassional trouble making students. One by one, each of her friends starts dying horrific deaths at the hands of a mysterious killer. Virginia starts having blackouts and is unsure if she may in fact be the killer.
Happy Birthday to Me really delivers the goods. It has several gory, well thought out deaths, a great mystery storyline and a likable young cast (and Glenn Ford of course). At almost two hours long, the film surprisingly moves along at a quick pace and you really don't know who the killer is until the very end. Over the past year I have watched several Charles Bronson films directed by J. Lee Thompson and had no idea that he directed this until very recently. Thompson does a great job mixing the right amount of mystery, horror, action and drama.
(BTW, check out your local Wal Mart's $5 Halloween Horror section. This was one of their featured titles and they even had it for sale before its official release date)