Monday, October 31, 2011

31 Days Of 80's Movie Slashers: 10/31 - Happy Birthday To Me (1981)

Day Thirty-one: Happy Halloween, kids!

Happy Birthday To Me
From Columbia Pictures
Original Theatrical Release Date: May 15th 1981
DVD: Yes

Plot: Poor Virginia (Melissa Sue Anderson). She just might go bonkers. Someone is giving her the rather nasty gift of killing off her friends just in time for her Birthday.

You might remember that I love a good Scooby-Doo Slasher every now and then. Well my friends, it doesn't get any better than Happy Birthday To Me if that's what you're also looking for.

The elite Top 10 students at Crawford Academy are a strange bunch. They all seem to only want to party and act as if they are completely guilty of murder. I suppose the pressures of school and success can do that to you. I love that these crazy kids go to a pub called "The Silent Woman" and I love that they take the time to play pranks and upset the local senior lodge members. Why have endless scenes of academia when we can have moments of mice in beer? And when we do have some moments of Academia, thankfully it's hair raising moments like this:

Melissa Sue Anderson's Ginny (Definitely not to be confused with Amy Steel's Ginny from Friday The 13th Part II and my way of just mentioning Amy Steel once again in these posts) is a bit more aloof and serious than her friends. She tries her hardest to fit in as she's not from money like everyone else but has seemingly inherited her mother's crazy genes. Because these kids seem wacko themselves, they never take notice of her strange behavior. Melissa Sue Anderson does a great job in a very complicated role. She could have easily been unlikeable. Instead, we do care about Ginny and her mental health. But also, we can't help but wonder what she may be up to.

Okay, let's run this down again quickly...

I have a head wound.

I see a psychiatrist who was once a classy actor named Glenn Ford.

And my friends are weird. 

Am I losing my mind? Or did I stumble upon a lifestyle that just might be so much more awesome than yours. 

Happy Birthday's world is awesome and strange, indeed. We get treated to what the tagline calls "Six of the most Bizarre Murders You Will Ever See". Three of which taught such ever valuable lessons in life, like:

Never ever wear a scarf while fixing your motorbike, even if you think you're the biggest preppie stud on campus. It does not ends well. 

Always wear an athletic cup when you're lifting weights. There are many people out there who are just simply tempted to drop a heavy weight onto your package. 10 times out of 10 this will distract you and the heavy weight from the bar will crush your neck. This also hurts like balls.

And don't you dare sit by the fireplace and eat Shish Kebab with anyone you think you might be so comfortable with that they insist on feeding you food from a long, sharp poker. Secretly people don't like you, and this is their chance to let you know.

You know, I may have made it sound that way, but, High School isn't all fun and games that include motorbikes, working out and a good stick in the mouth. It's also about beheadings, brain surgery, bell towers and panty stealing. But then, all the best movies have at least some of those qualities. And if they don't, they really should get on that.

Happy Birthday To Me was produced by John Dunning and Andre Link, the Canadian geniuses behind My Bloody Valentine and Death Weekend. They hired Director J. Lee Thompson (The Guns Of Navarone, The Reincarnation Of Peter Proud, 10 To Midnight) to orchestrate this madness and the Film ends up with a polish so unlike other Films of it's kind of the time. With a great cast and a higher than usual budget for a Film of it's type, Happy Birthday is a step above it's other Slasher cousins and I tend to come back to it time and time again like an old friend. There's an indescribable comfort of watching a well crafted movie about some crazy nonsense that it ends up becoming even more therapeutic than the Hot Tub from Halloween II or watching Glenn Ford's open shirt and gold chain.

Hamlet this also isn't.

You do not have to question your sanity when you love a Film like Happy Birthday To Me. You might as well have come from a parent who was impossible to deal with and ends up drowning in her crazy sorry, or you might have the urge to act like Quasimodo for no good reason, and you may even feel the need to don a mask that just so happens to look exactly like a good friend or relative of yours that you hate. You do absolutely have to be in the mood for the classiest, sharpest cheese you can find at your local grocery or video store or wherever you happen to shop. The aromas, the texture, the aged beauty of a 30 year old Slasher Film is a wonderful thing. They can easily be paired with a good Red Wine in the Cabernet, Pinot Noir family or whatever you might have on hand. I myself prefer a nice single malt scotch. The more developed the flavors such as a good nutty or peaty quality seem to work well. I can sit around in the dark admiring Ginny's eyes as she looks off into the none too distant crazy future. I can watch as her friends drop away, coming back to say hello in the final act with their best birthday wishes (which they really should have done all those years ago). I can also learn to play "The Game"... I wonder if my car would make it off the bridge in time.

Watch Happy Birthday To Me no matter if it is or isn't your Birthday. If you do end up watching it alone, don't get too upset with the friends you invited that didn't show up. It's not good to hold a grudge. And someone just might want to frame you for their murders. I won't say who, but, you just might want to check to see if their face is real or not. I sometimes have to do that in life. Call me crazy, but, you just never know.


For more Happy Birthday To Me Lovin' please see The Hysteria Continues' inaugural podcast which covered the Film. The show is hosted by 4 loving fans of the genre and their coverage on the Film for their first show which was back in January of this year is superb. Check it out on iTunes. Just scroll down to episode #1 right here: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME/HYSTERIA 

As for more 80's Slasher Film Recommendations, here's just a quick list of Favorite Films I wanted to cover this Month, but just couldn't get to. 31 Days is just not enough!

Fade To Black
Friday the 13th
Funeral Home
He Knows You're Alone

Bloody Birthday
The Boogeyman
Dark Night of the Scarecrow
Deadly Blessing
Friday the 13th Part II
The Prowler
Strange Behavior

Death Valley
Don't Go to Sleep
The Dorm That Dripped Blood
Hospital Massacre
The Slayer

10 to Midnight
Night Warning
Sleepaway Camp
Sweet Sixteen

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Girls Nite Out
A Nightmare On Elm Street
Scream For Help
Silent Night, Deadly Night


A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge

Psycho III

Blood Rage
Blood Sisters
Hunter's Blood

Return to Horror High
The Stepfather
Slumber Party Massacre II

Bad Dreams
Child's Play
Evil Laugh
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Hell High
Rush Week
Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland

Happy Halloween everybody!

1 comment:

thevoid99 said...

Great marathon man. What's for next year, the 70s?

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