The Curator of Schlock #79: Happy Birthday to Me

The Curator of Schlock #79 by Jeff Shuster

Happy Birthday to Me


No. No. It’s not my birthday. Happy Birthday to Me is this week’s featured exhibit in the Museum of Schlock. With another impending Friday the 13th, I’ve decided to review slasher movies all month. I guess I’m going for a holiday theme so first up is a slasher movie based around birthdays. Not that birthdays are really holidays for anyone. I don’t remember ever getting the day off for my birthday. Life is unfair, but at least I didn’t have to sit at a table with a bunch of mutilated corpses of my best friends on my birthday. To those of you who have had to deal with that situation, I apologize for not offering a trigger warning sooner.

Happy3According to Wikipedia, Happy Birthday to Me is “a 1981 American-Canadian slasher film directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Melissa Sue Anderson and Glenn Ford.”

Now I want to dispute with Wikipedia that there’s no such thing as American-Canadian. You’re either one or the other, and this film is strictly Canadian. I find that I keep reviewing one Canadian movie too many these days, and I don’t know what horrible crimes I committed in my past life to deserve this fate. Not that I have anything against Canadians. We have our way of doing things, and they have theirs. We have American bacon, and they have Canadian bacon, which is neither crisp nor flavorful, but round and rubbery so that more than makes up for it. Sometimes, I’ll get a Canadian quarter in my change which is fine except when I take into account that I’m now 25 cents poorer, but I’m sure our quarters get mixed up with their money too. Of course, our quarters end up becoming real collector’s items like that 50 States series we had going on a few years back. So, the Canadians actually luck out in that scenario.

Happy4Wikipedia says that Happy Birthday to Me is a slasher movie. They’ve got that right. There’s plenty of slashing going on, but the scene that stands out the most to me is when one of the doofy teenagers is lifting weights and the unseen killer is serving as the guy’s spotter. The killer removes the guy’s weight stand leaving the guy struggling to keep his grip on the weights. Then the killer drops about 50 pounds on the guy’s sweet spot. You can imagine what happens next in all the gory detail. Or you can just watch the movie, which doesn’t leave much to the imagination. This is one of the few slasher movies from the era that made it to theater uncensored.

Happy2I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that I didn’t care for slasher movies that contain an unseen killer versus some freakshow that’s stalking the kids. I don’t like to have toguess who the killer is during these movies. Stop making me try to solve a mystery. I don’t want to think! Funhouse kept it nice and simple. The killer was some circus mutant. It wasn’t the protagonist’s long lost uncle who the family thought died in a gardening accident on Arbor Day. I give Happy Birthday to Me points for the twisted ending. I didn’t see it coming. To quote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

Five Things I Learned From Happy Birthday to Me

  1. Don’t pick a fight with Shriners. They’ll be out for blood.
  2. Don’t drive across a bridge while they’re raising it. You might actually go in the water!
  3. Making creepy, decapitated heads of your friends is not a normal hobby.
  4. Soccer is the game of choice at ritzy, private schools.
  5. Don’t get in the car with your drunken mother while she’s still sipping a martini and ranting about your deadbeat dad.


Jeffrey Shuster 3

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102, episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA candidate at the University of Central Florida.

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