I’m always in the mood for a good cheesy 80s slasher film, they give me a warm fuzzy feeling when I watch them (my doctor says it’s normal). Happy Birthday to Me is one of these films. A Canadian slasher film (filmed in Montreal, Quebec) and so full of red herrings, you’ll be able to feed a family of ten. Let’s read on and slash our way through this review…
Short nitty-gritty plot description from me/IMDb is as follows: Virginia is proud that she belongs to the best clique at a private school. That is, till a gruelling set of murders take place and her friends are the ones who are falling prey.
Happy Birthday to Me isn’t your normal slasher from the 80s. Yes we get your violence (sadly edited), a mysterious killer POV with black leather gloves stalking victims from the bushes, dumb jocks and beautiful ladies. What makes it different is that it tries so hard to throw the viewer off on who the killer is and will keep you guessing till the absolutely shocking, but confusing ending. The movie goes overboard on tricking you. You’ll have characters in the movie do a complete 180° and put off this creepy vibe. Next scene? Happy and friendly again. This is ratcheted up to almost comical proportions. In the end the payoff is worth it though, as the ending will have you shaking your head and yelling “bahhwhattt??” out loud.
Let’s go back to that edited violence for a second. The film is obviously trimmed so you don’t really see much gore. Some of the kills suggest a violent and painful death (weight lifting…the silent killer), but the cutaways just before the good stuff is irritating and disappointing. Speaking of disappointing, wheres the nudity?!? We have on our hands a film that came out in 1981, a “violent” slasher with tons of babes and not a bit of nudity. For shame Happy Birthday to Me, for shame.
It’s nice to see that the acting is actually above the bar when compared with other films of it’s kind. Melissa Sue Anderson, who you probably know from Little House on the Prairie, plays Virgina Wainwright. She manages a solid performance as an irrational buzzkill. Any time her group of friends are having a good time (be it jumping a car off a bridge or faking your death or even a friend’s death), she has to get all moody and run off. True, she was involved in a violent/tragic accident when she was younger that nearly killed her, but come on, live a little. What about Glenn Ford as Virgina’s doctor and Lawrence Dane has her father? Two men who look like they have the hots for Virgina. I’m sure doctor/patient confidentiality was in overdrive during their sessions and trust me, scenes between father and daughter should never have sexual tension in them. All sexually driven scenes aside though, the acting from everyone involved get’s an A-OK from me.
You might think I’m being overly negative with the film, but honestly I’m just poking fun at movie I had a great time with. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, misdirections, crazy ending and all. If you like a good cheesy slasher film every once and awhile, you’ll be pleased to know Happy Birthday to Me is your kind of gift.