Wednesday, January 6, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

Anchor Bay adds another vintage Eighties slasher to its stable with the recent DVD re-release of 1980’s HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME.

In her Senior year, pretty Virginia is proud that she has finally become part of the most popular clique that occurred a year earlier and resulted in her mother’s death. Now she’s about to turn 18 and the members of her clique are starting to die in horrible ways. Could it be her?

Another popular stalk n’slay that I missed back in my youth, I have to say that I liked HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME better than I expected. Competently helmed by journeyman director J. Lee Thomspson, whose credits include everything from the original CAPE FEAR and THE GUNS OF NAVARONE to BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES and DEATH WISH 4, and starring LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRARIE's Melissa Sue Anderson (in an unsuccessful bid for feature film stardom), HBTM is a fairly effective little thriller that may not have much splattering of blood and viscera, but does have a moderately clever script that managed to keep me guessing until the end.

The "kills" are imaginative, though clearly trimmed to minimize gore and appease the ratings board, and the young cast acquits themselves well. Hollywood icon Glenn Ford even shows up in an important supporting role, bringing a little class and acting gravitas to the low budget, tax shelter Canadian production.

AB’s DVD features a remarkably fine for the vintage 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a clear, 2.0 Dolby Stereo audio mix that restores the original music score missing from the out-of-print Columbia/Tristar DVD from a few years ago.

It's not a great movie, but it's not bad, either, and entertaining enough couple hours of formula fun.

BUY: Happy Birthday to Me