When I was younger the desire to be a bit more grown-up was always there. When I was allowed to sleepover at a friend of the family’s house or that friend came to the house to spend time with me, I magically somehow felt more grown up somehow. This was helped by the fact that the friend of the family brought some horror movies that she thought I would like and boy was she right!
One of those films from that night soon became one of my favorites. Happy Birthday To Me (1981). The film has a certain camp quality to it, which is probably what attracted me to it at the time. This is a film that could be dubbed as a cult classic now and one of those films that I was beyond excited to find out had finally made it to DVD. In fact, I was so excited about this, I actually asked for the feature for Christmas that year!
Since then my goal has been to show it to as many people as possible. This has not occurred nearly as enough as I would like by now, but that is neither here nor there. Regardless, I enjoy watching this one from time to time to be reminded of the greatness that is slasher films of the eighties. In fact, it might not be a horrible idea to start watching it on or around my birthday every year. Enough of that though. Let me get down to the nitty gritty of the film!
Happy Birthday to Me revolves around Virginia Wainwright (Melissa Sue Anderson). She is ecstatic to be apart of a clique that provides her with all the friendships of her dreams. However, before her eighteenth birthday, murders of that clique begin to take place all around her. Suddenly, she realizes that her friends are falling prey to a killer and slowly her birthday guest list is dwindling. In fact, soon after the killings take place there is a debate of whether Virginia is the one committing the murders! After all, she suffers from blackouts because of an accident she was in the year earlier so she could be the person committing the murders without even knowing it.
The acting within the feature is probably one of the better acted campy films that exists from the eighties. However, the truth is Anderson is the one audiences remember by the end of the film. She has an onscreen presence about her that cannot be matched by anyone else within the film. And if she looks familiar to to audiences upon an initial viewing, she is known for her portrayal of Mary Ingalls on the hit television program Little House on the Prairie. With that being said, there are no other true standouts within the feature, but the death scenes are beyond original, which makes them memorable.
Overall, Happy Birthday To Me takes a person on a trip through one’s mind and soul in order to slowly make discoveries, slowly figure out everything we have been watching. We begin to wonder what hints we have missed for the big twist ending reveal at the end of the film. For the ending alone, a person should take the time if they have not seen this feature and find this film on DVD, or rental.
Most people would probably dub Happy Birthday To Me as a cult classic and guilty pleasure and leave it at that. I cannot. Happy Birthday To Me is insanely original with the various death sequences portrayed in the film. Plus the ending is one of the most unique within the genre to me. In many people’s opinion, the film offers nothing new to the genre other than a few quirky killings that take place within the feature. If people do feel this way, they have not truly paid attention to film in the first place.