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Happy Birthday to Me

3.6 out of 5 stars 184 customer reviews

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(Oct 26, 2004)
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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)

Special Features

  • Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Melissa Sue Anderson, Sharon Acker, Damir Andrei, Jack Blum, Tracey E. Bregman
  • Directors: J. Lee Thompson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, 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: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002HGRI96
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,963 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Happy Birthday to Me" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
One of the best slashers to come out of the early 80's makes its way onto DVD for the first time with the original scored music! Actually, Happy Birthday to Me was more than just a slasher. It was a psychological thriller/mystery with slasher tendencies mixed in. What made it stand out was that it came across as being more sophisticated and classy than many other films from the slasher era. For one, it had an Oscar nominated director (J. Lee Thompson, Cape Fear), respected veteran actor Glenn Ford and great acting by our leading lady Melissa Sue Anderson who plays Ginny (riding off her Little House on the Prairie fame). Other notable supporting roles by Sharon Acker as Ginny's mother, Tracey E. Bregman as best friend Ann and Frances Hyland as the head of Crawford Academy. As most people know by now, Columbia (Sony) released the film in 2004 with an altered music score and the worst DVD cover art you could possibly imagine. And this film deserves so much better than that. Music is so important in films because it sets the entire tone of the film. When Sony released the DVD with an upbeat, pop-ish number instead of the creepy, scored version we were all familiar with, it was unspeakable and quite frankly unwatchable. Anchor Bay who has a reputation for releasing popular horror films from the slasher golden age has corrected all the mistakes that Sony made with this new release. I've heard that a remake of this film is in the works to be presented in 3-D like the recent My Bloody Valentine. The original MBV shared the same producer's as this film. One severely underrated horror film still remains unreleased on DVD and that film is Curtains, also produced out of Canada. Perhaps Anchor Bay will be the saving grace for that film as well.Read more ›
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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
If I buy the DVD, how can I be sure I get one with the original sound...
You can tell by the cover. The one with an image of some miscellaneous girl holding a cake is the wrong one. You want the one with the closeup of the guy getting skewered down the throat.

The problem is, Amazon is prone to lump them all together. But if you can get the one I describe, that's... Read More
Mar 3, 2015 by G. Garner |  See all 2 posts
This DVD of "Happy Birthday to Me" is NOT subtitled in Engish - only... Be the first to reply
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