After the success of slasher movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th, the screens were filled with movies about mysterious killers stalking and brutally killing teenagers. And several Canadian movies followed suit. 1981’s Happy Birthday to Me is one of the more interesting ones.
Directed by British director J. Lee Thompson who made such films as the original Cape Fear, The Guns of Navarone, two Planet of the Apes sequels and a really bad Casablanca remake called Cabo Blanco the movie follows an elite group of teenagers as someone starts to kill them off one by one.
One night when the elite clique “Top Ten” goes to meet at the local bar one of the members finds herself being stalked by a mysterious killer. She plays dead until the killer leaves and then runs into someone that she recognizes. She asks for help but whoever that person is kills her. The rest of the Top Ten are unaware that one of their members is dead.
Virginia “Ginny” Wainwright (Melissa Sue Anderson) is a member of the Top Ten but she only just joined the group. Her mother is dead and she is currently seeing Dr. David Faraday (Glenn Ford) after she was in a terrible accident on a draw bridge. Soon more members of the group start meeting gruesome endings. As the group starts to thin out it’s starting to look like Ginny might be responsible.
Happy Birthday to Me has a bit of twist ending to it and while clearly a slasher movie it does tend to be similar to the Italian giallo genre with who is the killer kind of mystery rather than unstoppable Jason, Michael, etc. is after the kids again.