Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- This movie is going to hit pretty close to home, I’ve been singing that to myself every day of my life.
- Girls, never start a car by yourself at night. Have a man do it for you.
- This broad Bernadette nearly gets strangled in the car, escapes, DOESN’T FLEE THE AREA, then gets her throat cut. She totally deserved that.
- A group of private school kids is upset at the rowdy behavior of some older folk in the bar. That’s new.
- All these kids are wearing the same scarf. They seem like real douchebags. One of them puts a mouse in a beer stein meant for the Shriners. What a little prick. I’m glad he’s gonna die.
- Then they all decide to drive their cars over a drawbridge that’s going up. The last guy barely makes it and trashes the front end of his sweet Trans Am. Nice move, needle dick.
- So apparently these scarf-wearing rimjobbers are a clique called the Top Ten. That’s just so super cool.
- That blind chick from Little House on the Prarie (who plays the lead, Ginny) is in her bra but you know she’s too prudish to show anything.
- She’s going to take a bath, which is off her bedroom, but puts a robe on first. Who does that?
- Really? A cartoon lightning bolt coming out of a guy’s finger for a static discharge? Really?
- I hate all of these kids. They’re such insufferable assholes. Even worse than the pricks on Terror Train. I’m glad most if not all of them are going to die.
- So Ginny had some kind of bad accident and had her brain electrically experimented on. Just like Blackenstein.
- Soooo this guy steals Ginny’s panties for some reason, then wins a dirt bike race and keeps the panties in his shirt, then pulls them out and shows her! WHYYYYYYYYYY????????
- Good, a killing. These kids need killing so badly.
- The killer puts the dirt bike guy’s dumb scarf in his dumb dirt bike wheel and it wraps around and spokes his face off. GOOD.
- So this nerd, Alfred, is apparently in the Top Ten but nobody seems to like him. It’s being implied that he’s the killer so he’s probably not. He’s into taxidermy, like most college kids.
- Oh, Bernadette’s head is in his room. Never mind.
- Wait, it was a joke head? I don’t get it. How and why?
- The head of this school looks just like the Sorceress from He-Man.
- The Top Ten hate society, but they hate each other most of all.
- I hope we get to find out what any of this has to do with birthdays.
- The weightlifting douche gets a taste of his own strength when the killer refuses to give him a spot and instead drops a weight on his boner, making him drop the bar on his throat. Pretty awesome.
- It seems like Ginny is clearly the killer but let’s see if they throw us a curveball.
- Just when I was about to state that there were no non-white people at this school a black dude and an Asian girl run across the screen. So that’s two non-white people at this school.
- I literally cannot wait until this guy Rudi gets shishkebabbed, as seemingly depicted on the poster.
- Rudi loves the bell tower. Why.
- Apparently Ginny knifes Rudi with his own knife? It’s not too clear.
- Ginny remembers her brain operation, during which she woke up. Nice job, anesthesiologist.
- Rudi’s ok, just cut his hand in the bell tower while trying to cut the bell rope as a prank. What a bastard.
- So Rudi buries a scarf and a science class skull under some flowers and everyone finds it. His girlfriend says, “I thought that was you.” You thought he turned into a fucking skeleton in a few hours?
- Ginny makes out with Rudi even though he’s a colossal prick, already has a girlfriend and basically threatened her with a knife yesterday. Everyone deserves everything they get in this picture.
- I can’t even describe how fast-paced everyone’s an asshole in this.
- Ginny stabs Alfred in the gut at her mother’s graveside. He just wanted to give her a flower in the creepiest way possible. So know we know she’s the killer, and there’s still 40 minutes left. So I guess she kills all her friends and there’s no one left to tell her happy birthday?
- The Top Ten switch partners like a light switch switches its switch.
- Wait. There’s Ginny. There’s kebabs. But that ain’t Rudi! False poster advertising! Still an awesome kill.
- It’s weird seeing an early ’80s slasher movie where the killer is fully revealed and seen killing.
- Man this chick’s brain is fuuuuuuuuuucked.
- So Ginny was in the car with her mom driving drunk and they get stuck on the drawbridge and fall into the water. It’s a cool practical effect that they show four times, and the last time the car lands completely differently. Then Ginny flat leaves her mom and swims to the surface only to smash her head on a huge garbage scow. Smooth move, Ex-Lax.
- Ginny apparently drowns her friend in the tub, but Glenn Ford comes over and there’s no one in the tub. So she’s hallucinating all this?
- Glenn Ford wishes Ginny a happy birthday, rendering the title moot.
- Then it kind of looks like they show the shishkebabbed guy’s body burning in the fireplace? They can’t smell it? Maybe it’s just logs with a big nose. I don’t know.
- Is Glenn Ford cleaning up after her murders I guess? I’m very confused at this point.
- Ginny’s mother was a real beech.
- So none of Ginny’s friends showed up at her birthday party the day of the accident a couple of years ago. Why was she having a party like a 5 year old?
- Her mother wanted to make all these rich assholes pay. Don’t know why.
- Ginny bashes Glenn Ford in the head with a fireplace poker and about 10 gallons of blood spray out.
- Man this movie is long.
- Ginny’s dad comes home, one of the other Top Ten girls is standing outside in the pouring rain with a birthday present. OK. (that part never gets explained)
- I really hope this is all a prank on the dad.
- We’ve been Rudi-less the last half hour.
- Birthday party time! Ginny’s been keeping the bodies of her dead friends in the cottage, now they’re all gathered at the table for cake. Even her mother is there, freshly dug up! What happened to Rudi?
- She cuts her dad’s throat and he ruins the birthday cake with his blood.
- Ohhhh, the old crazy twin sister switch. I had an inkling.
- So Ginny… pulls her sister’s mask off… revealing Ann, the girl she thought she drowned in the tub. Apparently Ann’s dad boned Ginny’s mom and produced Ginny and a scandal. Ginny stabs her in self-defense and then a cop conveniently comes by at that moment and it seems like Ginny did it all. Good. She deserves to go to jail just for being in the Top Ten.
Is It Actually Scary: It’s unsettling I suppose. There aren’t even really any jump scares, just surprising moments.
How Much Gore: Buckets of birthday blood, especially when Glenn Ford gets his head bashed in, which produces enough blood to fill a vampire’s hot tub.
Best Scene: You can’t beat a good shish kebab (although, why did they ditch the dance to go back to her house to eat shish kebabs?)
Worst Scene: Toward the end, right before the big climax, things get incredibly confusing to the point where I was totally lost as to what was going on. But I suppose that’s better than it being completely predictable?
Any Nudity: No birthday suits in this one.
Overall: You know, I didn’t have high hopes for Happy Birthday to Me, but I came away pleasantly surprised. It’s a little different that out of the Top Ten, only five were killed (with another one being the killer, Ann, who is killed at the end by Ginny). So aside from Ginny, that leaves three survivors, apparently. But it makes sense because the kids who died were the kids who didn’t attend Ginny’s original party. I still don’t understand exactly why Ann killed everyone. They did go her party after all. And why kill them now? They had been friends for years. Apparently, in the original ending it just turned out that Ginny was the killer, but the filmmakers thought that it was too predictable and changed it to the twist with Ann being the killer, even though doing that kind of left a lot of plot holes. It made sense for Ginny to go nuts all of a sudden because of her head trauma and her flashbacks, but Ann’s motivation just escapes me. And the perfect Ginny mask Ann was wearing is just too much of a stretch. Ginny being the killer definitely would have been predictable, but at least it would have fit the narrative. But anyway, that aside, this is a really enjoyable movie with creative kills, twists and turns (for good or bad) and a good story. It’s pretty long for a slasher movie, but there wasn’t really any point where I was bored or bemoaning how much time was left. As Gene Shalit would say, don’t turn down the invitation to this birthday party!
Score: 7.5 delicious shish kebabs (out of Top 10)