Original Release Date: May 15, 1981
Directed by: J. Lee Thompson
Produced by: John Dunning, Stewart Harding and Andre Link
Written by: Timothy Bond, Peter Jobin, John Saxton and John Beaird (uncredited)
This early 1980’s mystery horror film is about a girl named Virginia Wainwright who returns to her private school Crawford Academy a couple years after surviving a freak accident. As she attempts to get her life back on track, she struggles to do so when her preppy friends from the ‘elite top ten’ start getting brutally murdered. Virginia suffers from blackouts and memory loss as a result of her accident and starts to wonder if she has something to do with her friends disappearing. Is she the killer? Or will she be the next victim?
Six of the most bizarre murders you will ever see!
I chose to review this film because it’s very unique and original for its time. Happy Birthday to Me keeps you scratching your head from start to finish trying to figure out who the killer is. It’s unique kills separate it from the rest of the early 80’s slashers. The creativity with this movie can be compared to a late 80’s Friday the 13th, and it’s twisting plot of suspect after suspect leaves you in suspense similar to Scream. The story revolves around a girl named Virginia who suffered a freak accident a few years before the events take place. Throughout the film the directors gives bits and pieces of flash backs like little puzzle pieces of the story – except the puzzle pieces leave you jumping back and forth wondering if she is the innocent girl or whether she is the one behind the murders. If you’re a fan of 80’s horror this is a must see! Happy Birthday to Me delivers on every angle, with a twist ending that you won’t see coming. The flashbacks are extremely cheesy, especially the conclusion to the flash backs near the end of the film, but what 80’s horror doesn’t have that level of cheese? It’s part of what makes them great.
Did you know:
Columbia Pictures spent just as much on advertising as it cost to make following the success that Paramount Pictures had the year before with Friday the 13th. Their promotional strategy aimed to intrigue and confuse potential viewers with slogans like “Six of the most bizarre murders you will ever see”. Theatrical posters also mislead the public with headlines like “John will never eat shish kabab again” even though there is no character in the film named John and “Steven will never ride a motorcycle again” when it is Steven who gets the shish kebab. As unique as it was, the strategy worked because it did really well at the box office, pulling in over 3.7 million in its opening weekend and grossing 10.6 million in North America.
Kill count: 10
Movie Review: 6.5 out of 10
Gore Review: 7 out of 10