A decades-old folk tale surrounding a deranged murderer killing those who celebrate Valentine's Day turns out to be true to legend when a group defies the killer's order and people start turning up dead.
An unknown killer, clad in World War II U.S. Army fatigues, stalks a small New Jersey town bent on reliving a 35 year-old double murder by focusing on a group of college kids holding an annual Spring Dance.
While trying to understand a frightening reoccurring nightmare, a pledge is coaxed into breaking into her father's department store by her sorority sisters, where a deranged killer targets the girls and their boyfriends.
Five campers arrive in the mountains to examine some property they have bought, but are warned by Forest Ranger Roy McLean that a huge machete-wielding maniac has been terrorising the area.... See full summary »
Virginia Wainwright is a spirited young woman who has returned to a private school having survived a deadly accident and regenerative brain surgery. She is proud that she belongs to the Top Ten - the school's inner circle with the best students - and attempts to resume a normal life. But her friends are falling prey to a grueling series of murders, and soon there will be no one left to attend her 18th birthday party. Could it be her? Striving to rekindle the memory of her nightmarish accident, Virginia suffers from memory loss and traumatic blackouts. We soon learn the horrible truth behind her accident and what is going on before her birthday party...Written by
Joseph Henson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Many posters for the film utilized a marketing gimmick that had been used for Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). They featured a warning that read: "Because of the bizarre nature of the party, no one will be seated during the last ten minutes . . . Pray you're not invited". See more »
When the car flies over the drawbridge it sustains immense damage. The damage vanishes later. See more »
[to her attacking dog]
Winston! Winston! Winston, just stop it, bad boy. Sit down. Sit!
Oh, Mrs. Patterson.
Bernadette O'Hara, do you have any idea what time it is? Where are you going?
Well, I, I was just going up to the village to meet some of the kids at the inn.
You mean the second home for the Crawford top 10, don't you?
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The 1986 RCA/Columbia VHS release features the original print. The 2004 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD (with the "birthday girl" cover) uses a print with library music tracks and some differences in sound editing (possibly a temp soundtrack from the original production), though the closing Syreeta song is intact. The 2009 Anchor Bay/Starz Home Entertainment DVD (with the "shish kebab guy" cover) has the theatrical soundtrack, as does the Blu-ray from Mill Creek. See more »
Reasonable slasher with a silly finalé that takes the cake!
With seasoned pro J. Lee Thompson behind the camera, well known TV actress Melissa Sue Anderson in the lead role (hoping to make the transition from the small screen star to movie star), and veteran actor Glenn Ford giving able support, Canadian slasher Happy Birthday To Me is a far more competently made film than many of its contemporaries: the direction, cinematography, editing, lighting and acting are all top notch.
Unfortunately, it is this very slickness, along with the rather convoluted plot, lack of gore, and very silly finalé, that prevented this from being as enjoyable as I had hoped; I guess I just prefer my 80s slashers to be simpler, cheaper, nastier, and just a little more willing to shock!
Anderson plays Virginia Wainwright, newest member of the 'Top Ten', a clique of rich kids at exclusive private school, The Crawford Academy. After a game of chicken almost results in a terrible accident, Virginia begins to have flashbacks to a similar incident which claimed the life of her mother and left her with terrible injuries to her brain. When a gloved killer starts to stalk and kill the 'Top Ten', Virginia begins to wonder if she is the person responsible for the grisly murders...
Thompson, the director of highly regarded classic Cape Fear, puts his obvious skills to use, making the most of the silly script and delivering some well executed scenes of mayhem: the road race at the beginning wouldn't have looked out of place in a modern action movie, whilst the first death is worthy of an Argento giallo. However, the plot is so silly that even a skilled director like Thompson, with over thirty years experience, struggles to hold things together. The film eventually becomes a mess of disappointing gore-less deaths (the MPAA apparently cut some of the bloodier moments before its original release) and silly red herrings, and at times it also feels rather restrained (there is no nudity, despite there being the obligatory shower scene).
Thankfully, there is a sufficiently twisted ending, with the manky murder victims assembled around a table to take part in a macabre birthday party, although the final revelation is so daft that any suspense or terror is quickly dissipated.
After Happy Birthday To Me, Anderson returned to TV, Ford was given flack from critics for his appearance, and Thompson's career went downhill (King Solomon's Mines, anyone?); despite all this, the film isn't THAT awful, and should be of some interest to fans of the genre, if only for the infamous shish-kebab scene that featured on the excellent poster.
5.5 out of 10, rounded up to 6 for IMDb.
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