Another cult film to have been released in 1981, and criminally escaped me was Happy Birthday To Me.
In my defense, and I had to keep using this as my “Get Out Of Jail Free Card”, was the fact that it was lumped into the video nasties category, which meant that growin up in the UK, a lot of these movies were confiscated and hard to come by.
I do distinctly remember the video cover though, and finding the notion of death by kebab both, hilarious and intriguing.
Now that I’ve finally ticked it off my watchlist, I can see why it gained a cult following.
It’s not the most shocking or intelligent movie but it’s a hell of a lot of fun, plus it starred Little House On The Prairie’s Melissa Sue Anderson as its lead in a marked step away from her innocent portrayal of Mary Ingalls.
It’s most interesting premise was for Anderson to play Ginny, who suffered a brain injury when she was younger, and is now having blackouts. These temporary bouts of unconsciousness lead Ginny and the audience to question her actions when the bodies start to pile up and she has no memory of where she was at the time.
It doesn’t help that Ginny is part of the social elite called ‘The Top Ten’ that is made up of the most privileged students at the local high school, and that the members of this group appear to be the target of the killer.
There are plenty of twists and turns along the way to keep the audience guessing and the ending plays delightfully with the revelation, which pushes Ginny over the edge, with no hope of return. It would have been interesting to have seen how the original screenplay would have been received had it remained, as it played with the idea of possession, and sat more squarely with the original concept.
Having said that, I did like the off-kilter and downbeat ending that leaves the audience with little hope, despite the ending being neatly tied up.
There are some admittedly bizarre deaths that the publicity team took no hesitation to promote heavily upon the film’s release with some nice effects at play. It also marked another triumph from the minds of My Bloody Valentine, John Dunning and Andre Link, who managed to package a solid movie and a decent premise, albeit a little shaky on the payoff.
- Saul Muerte