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Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

Melissa Sue Anderson , Glenn Ford , J. Lee Thompson  |  R |  DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Melissa Sue Anderson, Glenn Ford, Lawrence Dane, Sharon Acker, Frances Hyland (II)
  • Directors: J. Lee Thompson
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Japanese
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 26, 2004
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002VYOVS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,946 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Happy Birthday to Me" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Includes special insert with original theatrical art
  • Includes original theme song sung by Syreeta

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Happy Birthday to Me typifies the horror genre prior to the self-reflection and irony that saturated the genre in the late '80s and '90s. A solid cast, decent acting, a well-written script, and relatively high production values result in a solid movie that is engaging on its own in addition to offering a glimpse into the history of '80s horror. The plot follows the rules of the genre (later parodied in such films as the Scream and Scary Movie series). A number of teenagers (played by actors who appear visibly older than their characters) from an elite prep school get into mischievous sexual situations fueled by alcohol and pot smoking. As teens start to disappear, murdered in a variety of violent ways, the film suggests a number of suspects. Is the killer the troubled star played by Melissa Sue Anderson who lost her overbearing, social-climbing mother in a car accident that she survived? Or is it the stern school mistress, the wacky, cool social clown, the social misfit, or none of the above? The film keeps you guessing until the final scene. Happy Birthday is a must-see for serious fans of the horror genre and this release is a solid digital mastering of the movie. Hardcore fans should note that the DVD release was not able to secure the rights to the original soundtrack so this version features an alternate soundtrack of largely nondescript '80s electronic music. --Brian Saltzman

Product Description

This birthday is anything but a party, as a group of teens at an exclusive private school are killed in a variety of gruesome ways, from suffocation to shish-kabobing. But are the murders linked to a grim secret from a new student's past, and can the slaying be stopped? Classic 1980s slasher flick stars Melissa Sue Anderson, Matt Craven, Lawrence Dane, and Glenn Ford. 111 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital Surround stereo; Subtitles: English (SDH).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good movie, but the DVD... February 9, 2005
Format:DVD
Hollywood is a tough town. All one need do is look at the career of J. Lee Thompson to prove this statement. This is the guy who directed "Cape Fear," not the remake with Nolte and De Niro but the frightening original with Peck and Mitchum. As the years went by things began to turn south for Thompson. Things got so bad that he ended up directing pictures for Cannon, the company that churned out all of those low budget, ultraconservative shoot 'em action films in the 1980s with the likes of Chuck Norris, Michael Dudikoff, and Charles Bronson in the lead roles. In fact, Thompson and Bronson worked together on several of these potboilers, including "10 to Midnight," "Death Wish 4: The Crackdown," and "Kinjite: Forbidden Secrets." By the time Thompson passed away in 2002, only critics remembered him for his earlier, more important efforts. But Thompson made another crucial contribution to American film, specifically American horror films, when he lensed the 1981 slasher flick "Happy Birthday to Me." Why is this motion picture worth mentioning? Because it is one of the few giallo films made outside of Italy--and made by an Englishman.

Virginia Wainwright (Melissa Sue Anderson) just wants to fit in at the Crawford Academy, one of those noxious private schools filled to the rafters with snotty rich kids. Ginny, as Virginia is known to her friends, does manage to worm her way into a group called "The Top 10," which apparently refers to the ten biggest jerks in school. It's a bit surprising Ginny pulled off this social coup since a car accident that claimed the life of her mother put her in the hospital with a brain injury. Only now is she slowly reintegrating herself back into society, with the occasional help of her psychiatrist Dr.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's My Party and You'll Die if I Want You to. September 15, 2010
Format:DVD
Arriving in the wake of such holiday themed slashers as "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th", "Happy Birthday to Me" put a surprising twist on a tried-and-true genre upon its release in 1981, even if audiences and critics alike ignored it. With Oscar nominated director J. Lee Thompson (the original "Cape Fear") at the helm, there's a certain touch of class to the film not seen in much of the lower-rent slasher fodder that was released around the same time. The plot twists and turns in unexpected (and sometimes confusing) ways as the body count rises, paving the way for an ending that you truly never see coming.

Melissa Sue Anderson plays Virginia, a troubled teenager on the verge of her 18th birthday. Virginia is part of a tight-knit clique known as the Top Ten. Rich, snobby and selfish, these are the sort of characters whose deaths are more than welcomed in a horror movie, but rather than being stalked by a guy in a hockey mask or a freak with a chainsaw, this crew appears to be under attack by one of their own. Meanwhile, poor Virginia is having as much trouble sorting out her troubled memories as she is trying to fit in. Her psychiatrist, played by Glenn Ford, tries his best to counsel her, but as the bodies piles up, Ginny grows more insane and unstable by the minute.

Although the artwork depicting a man being stabbed in the throat with a shish-kabob indicates that this is a bloody gorefest, nothing could be further from the truth.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cry blasphemy!! October 28, 2004
Format:DVD
I, like every horror movie enthusiast, eagerly awaited the arrival of "HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME" on DVD. After repeated viewings, I've grown to appreciate this early predecessor to Wes Craven's "SCREAM". That film gave absolutely no credit to this as being one of the rare horror films that redefined the many plot twists, in-jokes and even a few red herrings so popular now in this genre. Now, Columbia/TriStar did the unthinkable: they completely ditched the chilling Lance Rubin/Bo Harwood score in favor of a pointless, even cliched new score. How bad is it? They even play a mock-Olivia Newton-John song to run in the opening credits!!!

How dare they?! This film had one of the finest scores for any horror film and then some! Did Columbia/TriStar completely assume that we, the smart buying public, wouldn't notice? Or did they have so little faith in the buying power of this film, that they decided to take us for idiots!!

I accepted the cheesy "girl posing with a knife in the birthday cake" art on the cover because, by today's standards, the original 1980 cover design is a little too disturbing. (They at least had the good sense to include it in the DVD's case) But why in the sweet name of Peter, did they foul up a perfectly good score?! It almost makes the film unwatchable.

P.S. Anyone reading this, should start a letter campaign to Sony Pictures, demanding they release "HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME" with the original score! Whose with me?
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pray you're not invited to the party... December 2, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you've seen this film before, and recently purchased the DVD release, popped it into your player, and got the creeping feeling of something being not quite right, you're not alone... the movie on this disc is not the same as when originally released as the studio releasing this film to DVD has changed some of the musical scoring (substituting an inappropriate disco-like score in some parts)...I'm having the strangest sense of déjà vu...oh wait, a similar thing was done on the recent DVD release of Return of the Living Dead II (different studio). Seems kind of sad that for what has to be one of the biggest markets for DVDs (the United States), you'd think companies could see fit to try and preserve the original elements of a film, rather than changing it (for whatever reason), releasing it (without any warnings or notice of change on the packaging), and slapping a hefty price tag on the box (this DVD is one of the more expensive one's I've seen in awhile).

Happy Birthday to Me (1981), directed by J. Lee Thompson (The Guns of Navarone, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Death Wish 4: The Crackdown), stars Little House on the Prairie's own Melissa Sue Anderson in one of her few film appearances (she mostly works in the medium of television).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars MODERATE
Great 80's slasher. The gore isn't over-the-top. The suspense is moderate. The film seems to run a bit long. Seems the editor on this film fell asleep at the cutter. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Stefan Hayes
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun Twist
A good 80's style horror movie. Its suspenseful. It had some plot twists which kept you guessing. If you like 80's horror style movies you'll enjoy it.
Published 26 days ago by Lisa Sommers
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent movie in every single way.
This is, in my opinion, one of the pioneer slasher films. It taught us, like Prom Night and Halloween, that all bids were off. Anything goes. And oh my that ending! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars CLASSIC 80'S HORROR
GREAT CLASSIC 80'S HORROR MOVIE THAT NEVER LOSES ITS TOUCH. THIS IS UP THERE WITH APRIL FOOLS DAY, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, AND MOTHERS DAY. Read more
Published 4 months ago by TRACY RUCH
2.0 out of 5 stars Great death sequences, but not much else.
Make sure to check out my horror review blog at: brandoncsites.blogspot.com

Happy Birthday to Me (1981) **
D: J. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Brandon Sites
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy Birthday to Me
I must admit that I have not watched this movie yet but I will soon. Its in the same genre as Bloody Birthday &Prom Night. It looks like a good horror classic.
Published 5 months ago by Goddess Anjanee
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Unusual Birthday Party
I loved this movie for a long time now. If you're a fan of gory stuff, this is for you. The shish kabob killing is the one that really stands out!!
Published 5 months ago by Richard De Cora
1.0 out of 5 stars 2004 SONY RELEASE REVIEW IS 1 STAR!
This only applies to the 2004 Sony release of the film. The 2009 Anchor Bay release and recent Blu-ray release are both fantastic. Read more
Published 6 months ago by nolaboy2003
2.0 out of 5 stars Birthday
One of glenn fords last movies. Plot was thin and bloody! Not worth buying. DVD was fine just movie content poor watch. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Carolyn Ziede
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit far fetched, but enjoyable
Many years ago, I watched Happy Birthday To Me with a sort of glee that only comes from watching every horror film tossed out for general consumption. Read more
Published 6 months ago by David M. Rossi
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Way to choose three major SPOILERS for the STILLS!
I watched this tonight, and they did, as promised, restore the original musical score. In fact, if anything, it's even more melodic and beautiful, owing to the greater clarity of the sound on a dvd as compared to the old vhs copies. All in all, this was worth a lot more than they were charging,... Read more
Oct 21, 2009 by G. Garner |  See all 9 posts
This DVD of "Happy Birthday to Me" is NOT subtitled in Engish - only... Be the first to reply
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