Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Jennifer Esposito Is Your Newest NCIS Agent in Season 1...
Critics Are Split on Ghostbusters Reboot ...
'Respect is key': The Game, Snoop Dogg lead march to LA...
Kristen Stewart's Sheer Dress At 'Equals' Premiere -- S...
"A Slow Slipping Away"-- Kris Kristofferson's Long-Undi...
Fox News' Roger Ailes Sued for Sexual Harassment by Ous...
Garrison Keillor Retires from 'Prairie Home Companion' ...
Jennifer Aniston is Pregnant: Star Steps Out in Loose D...
Hiddleswift Is One Big Song Promotion -- A Theory...
Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley files for ...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Happy Birthday to Me (1980)

"It may be very painful, but we've got to find the link between your trauma and your friends."
- Dr. David Faraday (Glenn Ford)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: October 25, 2004

Stars: Melissa Sue Anderson, Glenn Ford, Lawrence Dane, Sharon Acker
Other Stars: Frances Hyland, Tracy Bregman, Lisa Langlois, Jack Blum, Matt Craven
Director: J. Lee Thompson

MPAA Rating: R for (violence, gore, language, surgical scenes and disturbing imagery)
Run Time: 01h:50m:36s
Release Date: October 26, 2004
UPC: 043396060142
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BBB- D+

DVD Review

In the wake of the huge success of Halloween (1978), cheaply- (and poorly-) made teen slasher movies poured forth by the dozens. But some entries into the genre stood well above the others, and Happy Birthday to Me falls into that select group thanks to some ingenuity in the scripting and some solid talents behind and before the cameras.

Seventeen-year-old Ginny Wainwright (Melissa Sue Anderson) is part of the Top Ten clique at the exclusive Crawford Academy. But Ginny was badly injured in the car wreck that killed her mother a few years before, and she has suffered from blackouts and memory losses due to an experimental brain surgery that brought her out of a coma. Dr. David Faraday (Glenn Ford) attempts to treat Ginny and retrieve her lost memories. But in the days before her 18th birthday, her friends start to disappear one by one, and Ginny has visions of gory murders of them. Is she only hallucinating, or is someone really disposing of the Top Ten in creative ways as she believes she's seeing?

Melissa Sue Anderson had already spent years before the camera, having grown up on Little House on the Prairie through the 1970s. She makes for a good lead, never quite sure whether she's become a homicidal maniac or just having disturbing delusions, or both. A slumming Glenn Ford makes for a sympathetic ear as the psychiatrist who tries to help Ginny but seems just a little too interested in seeking out the secrets of her past. Director J. Lee Thompson had a solid track record from such classics as the original Cape Fear and The Guns of Navarone, and he treats the story seriously, even though it's in a genre that gets little respect.

But the real star here is the clever script, which not only features some bizarrely creative murders (including the poster image of a shish-kebab through the back of a character's throat, among others). The script anticipates the postmodern horror of Scream in more ways than one, and the denouement certainly seems to have been a direct influence on that film, though the final unmasking is a bit weak. The inevitable birthday party finale is truly demented, with a tableau that would not be out of place in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There's a clear reference to the Italian gialli as well, with the black-gloved killer motivated by psychosexual incidents that happened in childhood.

Alas, the film has been released to DVD with the cuts demanded by the MPAA to receive an R rating, which means that much of the blood and mayhem is gone missing. Reports on the internet also indicate that much of the score has been replaced for some reason; that would seem to be true since substantial chunks sound like a refugee score from a circa 1978 porn film. Syreeta's rendition of the theme song over the ending credits is, however, intact. This classic of the genre really deserves much better than it gets here.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture generally looks fresh and colorful. The picture is a bit soft, probably to disguise the age of the supposedly teen actors. A little ringing is visible, but there doesn't seem to be any substantial edge enhancement. The picture is rather grainy, with mild speckling visible throughout. Otherwise, the source print has no noticeable defects.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono is undistinguished, with moderate hiss and noise audible in quieter segments. Dialogue is plain enough, but the replacement score sounds fairly cheesy. Some sound effects, especially during the brain surgery sequence are unsettling and well rendered.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, Japanese with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring I Know What You Did Last Summer, Identity, Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The extras are scant on this release. The box cover art is hideous and inexplicably makes the film look like an Exorcist retread. Thankfully, one of the extras is an insert that reproduces the original poster art. It nicely slips into the keepcase cover and makes for a much superior cover to the monstrosity that Columbia has seen fit to use to sell these DVDs. The only other extras are three unrelated horror film trailers, with I Know What You Did Last Summer in nonanamorphic widescreen format and the others presented with 16:9 enhancement. Chaptering is quite inadequate for the nearly two-hour length of this film.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

A classic of the slasher genre, with some clever twists but much of the gore remains scissored. The transfer is acceptable but there are no significant extras.


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


television, jennifer esposito, blue bloods, ncis, mark harmon. duane henry, wilmer valderrama, michael weatherly, bull, movie, ghostbusters, comedy, chris helmsworth, melissa mcarthy, kristen wiig, celebrity, rap, game, shoop dogg, jayceon terrell taylor, alton sterling, kristen stewart, equals, jonathan simkhal, nicholas hoult, music, kris kristofferson, country music hall of fame, alzheimers, lyme disease, fox news, gretchen carlson, fox and friends, steve doocy, roger ailes, the real story with gretchen carlson, radio, garrison keillor, a prairie home companion, jennifer anniston, baby bump, justin theroux, taylor swift, tom hiddleston, calvin harris, lisa marie presley, michael lockwood, riley and benjamin keough, danny keough, michael jackson, nicolas cage, tom affleck, boston fan, bill simmons, hbo show, any given wednesday, tom brady, deflategate, hamilton, lin-manuel mianda, periscope, heart tweet machine, hamilton mixtape, cable, hbo, curb your enthusiasm, larry david, bernie sanders, saturday night live, maya and marty, christina grimmie, murdered, plaza live, before you exit, marcus grimmie, nashville, cmt, president brian phillips, the tonight show, jimmy fallon, president obama, the roots, hillary clinton, tim mcgraw, faith hill, maggie mcgraw, humble and kind, ellen degeneres show, titi pierce, coldwell banker robbins & free realty, hairspray live!, tracy turnblad, york theatre company, john waters, jennifer hudson, harvey fierstein, martin short, derek hough, j.k. rowling, harry potter and the cursed child, noma dumezweni, emma watson, judd apatow, paul freig, melissa mccarthy, romance, history channel, roots, remake, anika noni rose, t.i., malachi kirby, josh duhamel, transformers, fergie, black eyed peas, axl, double dutchess, abc, music city, grand ole opry, chip esten, lennon stella, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store