Sunday, 7 October 2012



Go on - name five great teenie slasher movies of the late 70s and early 80s. Halloween, obviously. Friday The 13th, obviously. The Prowler/Rosemary's Killer's a good choice, as is The Funhouse. Some might say Black Christmas, some The Burning, some Madman, though I certainly wouldn't. My Bloody Valentine? Terror Train? Really? You'll be suggesting Pranks, Hell Night and Campsite Massacre next. Sadly there aren't that many genuine greats of the genre: a few standouts and a lot of formulaic dross, and falling into the latter camp is this less-than-classic teenkill nonsense that's far too long and deeply silly, though it has a few moments where it threatens, emptily, to turn interesting.

Happy Birthday To Me is absolute nonsense in which we're expected to give a damn when the elite students of the exclusive Crawford Academy start disappearing, but since they're all smug and obnoxious douchebags the world could quite happily manage without, it's physically impossible to care. In fact they're being bumped off in unusual ways by an unseen maniac - but who could it be? The prim and po-faced old boot of a headmistress who doesn't approve of their drinking and carousing? The geeky and slightly creepy-looking kid in the nerd glasses, who couldn't be more of a blatant red herring if he was actually a fish? Glenn Ford, on hand as the kindly psychiatrist? Might it have something to do with Melissa Sue Anderson's occasional flashbacks to her brain surgery and the death of her mother? What really happened that birthday night four whole years ago?

The revelation, when it comes, is absurd and implausible (and rather depends upon an oil rig exploding at precisely the right moment hundreds of miles away), and also takes far too long to arrive as the film runs a good 20 minutes longer than a B-grade slasher should. In the meantime, some of the charmless arseholes have been offed in slightly more interesting fashion than usual - one has his scarf tossed into a motorbike wheel, another drops his barbells onto his neck, a third gets a shish kebab through the back of his throat. Other than that, and wondering why a proper director like J Lee Thompson has plummeted from the likes of The Guns Of Navarone, Cape Fear and two of the Planet Of The Apes series to this sort of bunk, there's nothing of interest to be had from it.


No comments: