Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Melissa Sue Anderson, Glenn Ford, Lawrence Dane, Sharon Acker, Frances Hyland, Tracey E. Bregman, Jack Blum, Matt Craven, Lenore Zann, David Eisner, Lisa Langlois, Michel-Rene Labelle, Richard Rebiere, Lesleh Donaldson, Earl Pennington
Written by: John C.W. Saxton, Peter Jobin, Timothy Bond, based on a story by John C.W. Saxton
Directed by: J. Lee Thompson
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 111
Date: 05/15/1981
IMDB

Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Taking the Cake

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

At first glance, Happy Birthday to Me looks like another ripoff in the Halloween and Friday the 13th mold, with a Ten-Little-Indians-type plot and lots of slashings and killings. It's not particularly gory, scary or suspenseful, but it actually contains some good twists and a generally higher level of character and performance. Melissa Sue Anderson stars as Virginia, the newest member of an elite school clique called the Top Ten. She has survived a terrible car accident and some brain surgery and is still trying to get back in the swing of things. Before long an unseen fiend begins slaughtering the friends and spiriting the bodies away to parts unknown. None other than Glenn Ford co-stars as Virginia's psychologist. On the downside, the ten friends are pretty much interchangeable, and they don't seem to have much in common with one another (aside from wealthy, powerful parents). And, at 111 minutes, the movie is far too long. The director, J. Lee Thompson, actually made the original Cape Fear (1962). Anchor Bay released a 2009 DVD edition, complete with the restored, original score.

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