HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981) Reviews of Canadian slasher

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‘John will never eat shish kebab again.’

Happy Birthday to Me is a 1981 Canadian slasher horror film directed by J. Lee Thompson (10 to MidnightCape Fear) from a screenplay written by John C. W. Saxton, Timothy Bond, Peter Jobin and [uncredited] John Beaird. Produced by John Dunning and André Link (My Bloody Valentine).

The Cinépix production stars Melissa Sue Anderson, Glenn Ford, Lawrence Dane, Sharon Acker, Frances Hyland, Tracey Bregman, Jack Blum, Matt Craven, Lenore Zann, David Eisner, Lisa Langlois, Michel-René Labelle, Richard Rebiere, Lesleh Donaldson (Abnormal Attraction; Swamp Freak; Curtains; Funeral Home).

The film’s make-up effects were the work of Tom Burman (Cat People; The Beast Within; Prophecy; The Devil’s Rain; et al).

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At the Crawford Academy, Virginia’s group of friends start to go missing years after horrible events that happened to her as a child around her birthday…


“Directed by journeyman Thompson in a ponderously academic style, full of crane shots and shock cuts, and boasting expansive production values, Happy Birthday to Me is a lacklustre addition to the teenage horror cycle initiated by Halloween (1978).” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

“Shameless in its conventionality and ludicrousness […] it assaults/cheats us with, Happy Birthday To Me is a moderately entertaining ‘old-school’/vintage slasher which makes attempts at originality with its wildly implausible twists and turns, moments of gothic horror, macabre humour and gruesome kills.” Behind the Couch

“It’s an above-average slasher, although it overstays its welcome at 111 minutes. While I appreciate the character-building – something that many slashers lack – many of the characters are nothing more than irredeemable brats waiting to be killed. With so much fat that should have been trimmed, the pacing suffers.” Broke Horror Fan

“A slasher audience wants insane (but not cheesy) violence, young hot naked females, blood, gore, a fun story and a badass killer. HBTM has none of those things. There’s very little violence, the killer is weak, zero nudity or even attractive females, only a handful of blood, zero gore and the story is long-winded and overly complicated.” Happyotter
“The performances hit the mark, with Anderson showing a darker side to the sweet daddy’s girl most know and the ‘top ten’ giving us fairly believable (if not necessarily loveable) teenagers, with taxidermy fanatic Alfred, easily the most intriguing. Whilst the running time could be trimmed slightly, the film manages to maintain its momentum…” UK Horror Scene

” …there’s nothing to be said for the acting, direction or story, which is monumentally stupid, dependant throughout on a frail girl to kill and carry the bodies away so they can’t be found, taking time out along the way to dog up a casket and haul away the contents.” Variety, May 13, 1981 HappyBirthdayToMe
“On the one hand, this is one handsome devil of a horror film, with well-crafted photography and characters drawn beyond the airhead regulars associated with sharp-object wielding killers. The Yin to this Yang is that it thinks above its station to some degree, attempting to spread its wings beyond the boundaries of what the audience most probably expected back in the day.” Vegan Voorhees

they came from within caelum vatnsdal canadian horror cinema

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