Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
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Certainly the low point in Glenn Ford's acting career, this Canadian production is, nevertheless, one of the slickest-looking slasher films from that subgenre's early-'80s heyday. The plot (what one can make of it) involves an unseen killer stalking a group of college students at the prestigious Crawford Academy.
The well-staged murders are mysteriously linked to the slightly off-kilter Virginia (Melissa Sue Anderson, formerly of Little House on the Prairie), whose disturbing past holds the key to the killer's identity. Though this film brought nothing new to the psycho-horror field, it did feature one of the more interesting ad campaigns of the period.
One-sheets loudly boasted, Six of the most bizarre murders you've ever seen! and barred all late-arriving patrons from entering the theater during the final ten minutes (a promotional stunt stolen from Psycho).
This hype proved less than apropos since the murders in question are not particularly bizarre or original (aside from the shish-kabob impalement depicted in the ads), and the film's climax is so painfully contrived that latecomers may be more able to comprehend it than those bemused viewers who watched the film from the beginning.
- Genre: Horror