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Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

Melissa Sue Anderson , Sharon Acker , J. Lee Thompson  |  R |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Melissa Sue Anderson, Sharon Acker, Damir Andrei, Jack Blum, Tracey E. Bregman
  • Directors: J. Lee Thompson
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 13, 2009
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002HGRI96
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,143 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Happy Birthday to Me" on IMDb

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  • Trailer

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Welcome to upscale Crawford Academy, where everyone – especially new student Ginny (Melissa Sue Anderson of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE) – wants to be part of the school’s most popular clique. But now somebody has begun butchering the group’s members. Could a deadly accident from Ginny’s past be connected to the brutal killings? And as her 18th birthday approaches, will Ginny be the guest of honor at the most horrific party of all? Matt Craven (DISTURBIA), Lawrence Dane (SCANNERS) and Hollywood legend Glenn Ford (THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, 3:10 TO YUMA) co-star in this twisted slasher shocker from Oscar®-nominated director J. Lee Thompson (THE GUNS OF NAVARONE) that features – as its infamous poster promised – “six of the most bizarre murders you will ever see!”

Stills from Happy Birthday to Me (Click for larger image)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good movie, but the DVD... February 9, 2005
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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11 of 11 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
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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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cry blasphemy!! October 28, 2004
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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25 of 31 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy Birthday to Me DVD.
Great classic 80's horror movie. I enjoyed it very much. Must have for any horror fans collection.
Published 27 days ago by Jonathan Crick
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love this movie
Published 27 days ago by Kris Sexton
1.0 out of 5 stars FREDDY'S COMING
I SAW THIS. "have you checked the children" "go to sleep" "I'm your boyfriend now".
the best part is the end. the worst part
the beginning. Read more
Published 29 days ago by gcd
5.0 out of 5 stars One birthday present any horror fan would love to get..
I watched this movie when I was growing up and loved it. As a fan of horror movies some of the best came out in the 80's when they weren't worried on the best effects or stars but... Read more
Published 1 month ago by T
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVED THIS
Published 1 month ago by Theodore W. Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a little slow but still I enjoyed it
Published 2 months ago by Derrick Redd Sr
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Awesome, its my birthday
I love this stuff. A lot.
Published 3 months ago by Ron Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT "bad" 80s horror/slasher flick with plot twists and integrity.
This is truly a "great" bad horror movie and it has more integrity than others of its generation. Read more
Published 4 months ago by John's Horror Corner
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 7 months 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 7 months ago by Lisa Sommers
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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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