Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981). Director: J. Lee Thompson.

Virginia Wainwright (Melissa Sue Anderson) belongs to a school clique called "The Top Ten" at the Crawford Academy. But as her 18th birthday approaches, someone starts wiping out her friends one by one in gruesome, startling ways [one poor guy is sort of shish ka bobbed to death]. In the way of Italian giallo director Dario Argento, the movie works up considerable suspense as to the identity of the killer and his or her motives, although director Thompson's style is nothing like Argento's. Glenn Ford is the biggest name in the cast and is fine as Virginia's psychiatrist, and there are good performances as well from Anderson, Tracy Bregman as one of her friends, and Lawrence Dane and Sharon Acker as her parents, among others. You may groan at certain aspects of the denouement but at least it's suitably macabre. 

Verdict: One of the better mad slasher-type movies that proliferated in the 80's. ***. 

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