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March 7, 2012

The Mike's Top 50 Horror Films Countdown: #50 - Happy Birthday to Me

(Note from The Mike: If you're a loyal reader of FMWL - and if you are, then God bless ya - you might have noticed that the tempo of this site has gone down a little bit over the last few months.  A combination of forces have slowed me down a bit, and the near future isn't looking much brighter.  So, to keep content coming and to (hopefully) be just a little interesting, I'm gonna start a list.  And I'm gonna keep it simple.  Here begins the countdown of my 50 favorite horror films (at the moment), with a brief post on each film to quench your appetite before I move on to the next.  These'll be short and sweet, but I hope they serve a purpose and provide a little entertainment.  In the meantime - Let's do this!)

Happy Birthday to Me
(1981, Dir. by J. Lee Thompson.)

Why It's Here: 
There are a lot of "Oh, it's not really that good but I just can't get enough of it!" horror movies that came out of the '80s, and Happy Birthday to Me is no exception.  With a plot that's one part Friday the 13th and one part Scooby Doo, the film offers self-proclaimed "bizarre" murders and a whodunit? plot that features a couple of odd twists and a dose of mental health concerns.  Little House on the Prairie's Melissa Sue Anderson stars as a unique high school girl, with (one of the great actors of all-time) Glenn Ford and (one of the most underrated actors of all-time) Lawrence Dane helping her along her journey.  The game of cat-and-mouse between killer and teens is always entertaining - if not pretty silly - and puts a smile on my face every time.

The Moment That Changes Everything:
A pair of garden shears and a blatant reveal stick out to me, even over the brutal shish kebab murder shown on the poster and other advertisements.  It's one of the few truly surprising moments I can remember seeing in a slasher movie (I saw the movie at a younger age, which helped), and it sets the stage for a pretty wild final act.

It Makes a Great Double Feature With: 
Most any '80s horror flick with plenty of kills and teen characters fits here, but I especially like the combo of Happy Birthday to Me and the 1986 slasher/comedy April Fool's Day.  Put both of these mysterious slashers together and you'll have a killer evening.

What It Means to Me:
Happy Birthday to Me has always been a special film to me.  I learned of its existence because it was on one of those "The Day You Were Born" things my family had on the wall when I was growing up (the oddness of a movie called Happy Birthday to Me being popular when I was born has never been lost on me), and it was one of my first experiences with slasher films that didn't feature Michael or Jason or Freddy.  It's certainly not a great film by any measure, but it's always made me remember why I love even the silliest of horror films.

1 comment:

Marvin the Macabre said...

This is bizarre. I had an inadvertant 80's slasherfest all last week, and this week, every one of the movies I watched have been covered by bloggers I follow.

This one's a great pick too. Just when I thought I was so clever at having figured out the ending, they pull out an utterly ridiculous twist that took me from, "Heh, heh, that movie was pretty cool," to "That movie was freakin' awesome! And stupid!"

I thought the first kill, while not as creative as the rest, was really well-done and disturbing. In short, it set the wrong tone for what was to come. Loved it though.