Happy Birthday to me

Made pretty much at the beginning of the slasher boom and released in 1981, ‘Happy Birthday to me’ is Canada’s answer to that American phenomenon and features “Six of the most bizarre murders you will ever see”.

Crawford Academy is a very select and posh high school where local girl Ginny Wainwright attends.  Ginny is a member of the ‘Top Ten’ a clique made up of your typical rich kids.  At the beginning of the film, one of it’s members Bernadette is murdered by an unknown assailant.  The rest of the kids are at a local pub and manage to cause some grief with a bunch of locals, the next day they are reprimanded by the school’s headmistress who wants to know where Bernadette is.

Of course with Bernadette out of the way, Top Ten members start getting picked off one by one by a mysterious black gloved killer.  Ginny is also dealing with the death of her Mother and is seeing a psychiatrist played by Hollywood Legend and the best ‘Jonathan Kent’, Glenn Ford.  Poor Ginny is getting flashbacks of an operation on her brain and is generally at times struggling with reality, is she the killer?

The on screen deaths are not particularly bloody, but are staged well by the film’s director J. Lee Thompson.  Thompson was a seriously talented director whose resume included The Guns of Navarone, the original Cape Fear, a couple of Planet of the Apes films and quite a few Charles Bronson action classics.  He was also born in Bristol, in fact just a few miles from where I live.  Thompson gives the film a nice ‘quality feel’ lacking in many of the scuzzy slashers of the day, in fact the film is actually a classic whodunnit mystery with a bit of blood not a T&A flick.

The Blu-ray has a commentary, trailers and lots of photos as well as a nicely produced booklet.  The crowning achievement is that you have two music scores for the film.  The original music from the theatrical release and a newer composition from the subsequent DVD releases.  The cover also features the great ‘kebab’ shot used in the advertisements around the film’s release and it’s first incarnation on video from the ‘Silver Series’ RCA/Columbia label.

Happy Birthday to me is a nice blast from the past with a fair bit of tension and a half decent plot, well worth getting if you’re a first time watcher.  If you already have it on DVD, there is an argument to ‘double dip’ due to the quality of this release from Indicator.

  • Starring Glenn Ford  Melissa Sue Anderson  Lawrence Dane  Sharon Acker
  • Director J. Lee Thompson
  • Distributor Powerhouse/Indicator