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List of Shame: Happy Birthday To Me

happy Birthday to me poster

@TigersMS78 checks his list...

Everybody has a list of shame, those things you did that will haunt you forever…but I digress. In horror its to do with films you should’ve already seen, gore classics, 70’s shockers and satanic possession films that for some reason or another have slipped through the net and remain on your list of shame taunting you. Every time a film on the list is brought up in conversation, all you can do is sip your whiskey sour and stay in the shadows praying someone doesn’t ask you a question about the film about lest your shame bubbles to the surface and you realise that Carrie’s mother was right – They are going to laugh you. Well, no more – the shame list is being whittled down which brings me to - Happy Birthday to Me - a film that I had long seen the cover art for yet never actually watched. I remember seeing it just about every time I was at the video store (which was a lot) and now finally I can lay it to rest.

You can read on for my review of the film but in the meantime leave a list of films on your shame list in the comments – there is no judgement here!

Review

80s horror, especially 80s American slasher horror and even more specifically - a teenage cycle horror film – all have a certain look and feel about them and Happy Birthday to Me absolutely fits this look. The film begins with a stalk and slash sequence that is pretty suspenseful and has a few surprises, the killer is seen on screen by the victim but not by the audience as an immediate way of creating suspense. As the film takes place in around a college there are plenty of people wearing the same coloured scarf the killer wears and so from an audience point of view, everyone is a suspect.

happy birthday to me image

Ginny is part of the college’s elite ‘Top Ten’ a rich kid clique, all the other kids are all rich kids who give or take one or two people are total assholes. Ginny has a secret…she blacks out and lost some of her memory as a result of an awful bridge opening car crash that killed her mother. Now, one by one the ‘top ten’ are being picked off.

happy birthday to me image

Happy Birthday to Me plays the thriller/mystery card early and often with fake out after fake out after fake out, which is fine because you never quite know what is real, fake or imagined in Ginny’s head. However, the kills aren’t very graphic (with the exception of a totally disproportionate amount of blood from a small strike). The much talked about climax which was re-written (or as rumour has it, made up during production) to include a twist, was interesting. I thought the lead up into the climax was fantastic, with the birthday party at the end of the film being, in my opinion, one of the best moments in any of the 80s slasher films. Its macabre and for the first time in the film, the was an uneasy feeling which crept into it. Happy Birthday to Me doesn’t actually make much sense but it has a certain charm and manages to entertain.

Ryan Morrissey-Smith

Twitter: @TigersMS78

Images: IMDb, Cinemadumeep.com & triskaidekafiles.com

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