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directed by J. Lee Thompson

Canada 1981

 

Popular high school senior, Virginia Wainwright (Melissa Sue Anderson), survives a freak accident but suffers from memory loss and traumatic blackouts. As she attempts to resume a normal life, something terrible is happening - her friends are being ruthlessly murdered one by one. But will she be the next victim or is she the killer?

Veteran director J. Lee Thompson's classic shocker was made during the period before the horror genre drenched itself in irony and self-reflexivity, and instead revels in the effective staging of terrifying set-pieces which drive it towards a terrifying climax.

***

Happy Birthday to Me stands out from the slasher movie pack of the early '80s because it pushes all the genre's elements to absurd heights. The murders, plot twists, and, especially, the last-minute revelations that are dished up in the final reel don't just deny credibility, they outright defy it. However, this quality doesn't make Happy Birthday to Me unwatchable. In fact, this film can be quite entertaining if viewed in the proper tongue-in-cheek frame of mind. The background performances suffer from the thin characterizations they are saddled with, but the lead performances are quite good. Melissa Sue Anderson wisely plays the material straight and comes off quite sympathetic, and Glenn Ford's solid work as Dr. Faraday lends the film a much-needed element of credibility. Behind the camera, J. Lee Thompson allows the pace to be a bit too slack, but brings an old-fashioned "studio director" sense of polish to the material and stages the film's show-stopping murder scenes with gruesome aplomb. Most importantly, the screenwriters work overtime to create a story line that will keep viewers guessing, despite its often ridiculous excesses, and pepper it with plenty of solid shocks (squeamish viewers should beware the infamous shish-kebab scene). The end result is often quite silly, but anyone with a soft spot for 1980s horror will find it difficult to take their eyes off the screen. Ultimately, Happy Birthday to Me is probably a little too over-the-top and relaxed in its pacing for most modern audiences, but it provides an interesting history lesson for new horror fans who think the slasher genre begins with Scream.

Excerpt of AllMovieGuide located HERE

 

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 15th, 1981 - Canada

Indicator (Powerhouse) initial slate of Blu-rays
Spine #001 Spine #002 Spine #003 Spine #004

Spine #005

Spine #006

Spine #008 Spine #010 Spine #012 Spine #013 Spine #019 Spine #020

 


 

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Millcreek (Double Bill with 'When a Stranger Calls') -  Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray

1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray LEFT

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Cover and purchase link

 

 

 

   

 

Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Indicator Spine #06 - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:50:43.053 1:50:47.349
Video

1.78:1 Disc Size: 40,020,013,900 bytes

Feature Size: 20,871,622,656 bytes

Total Bitrate: 20.29 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

1.85:1 Disc Size: 47,995,496,755 bytes

Feature Size: 37,876,772,160 bytes

Total Bitrate: 34.68 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: Millcreek Blu-ray:

 

Bitrate: Indicator Blu-ray :

 

Audio DTS-HD Master Audio English 3455 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3455 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3729 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3729 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Alternate Score:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps)

Subtitles English, None English (SDH), None
Features: Release Information:
Studio: Millcreek

 

1.78:1 Disc Size: 40,020,013,900 bytes

Feature Size: 20,871,622,656 bytes

Total Bitrate: 20.29 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
• shares disc with "When a Stranger Calls"

DVD Release Date: March 26th, 2013
Standard
Blu-ray case

Chapters 15

Release Information:
Studio:
Indicator

 

1.85:1 Disc Size: 47,995,496,755 bytes

Feature Size: 37,876,772,160 bytes

Total Bitrate: 34.68 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

 

Edition Details:
• Alternative score: experience the film with the controversial re-scored electronic music soundtrack, as used on the 2004 home video re-release
• Audio commentary by The Hysteria Continues team: Justin Kerswell (author of Teenage Wasteland: The Slasher Movie Uncut) Joseph Henson, Erik Threlfall and Nathan Johnson
• Image gallery: on-set and promotional material
• Original trailer (1:17) and 4 TV spots (3 X US, 1 UK)
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 24-page booklet with extracts from the original press kit, advertising and promotion guide, and selected film reviews
• DVD included
• Limited Dual Format Edition of 5,000 copies

 

Blu-ray Release Date: December 12th, 2016
Transparent Blu-ray case

Chapters 12

 

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray December 17': The new Indicator Blu-ray is dual-layered with a max'ed bitrate and in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio but has a shade cropped off the right and bottom edges as compared to the 1.78:1 (opened-up) Millcreek that includes "When a Stranger Calls" on the disc. The bright, clean, static images are pretty-much exactly the same. They are both 1080P but the Indicator looks superior in-motion because of the significantly higher bitrate. It's quite noticeable.

Both offer a 5.1 surround bump in DTS-HD Master (24-bit) that carries some intense depth (screams) but not so much crisp separations. The Indicator included the options for an authentic linear PCM mono track, plus a similar encode for the alternative score: a controversial re-scored electronic music soundtrack, as used on the 2004 home video re-release as another audio option. It sounds pretty funky and I preferred the original. There are optional English subtitles - (SDH) on the Indicator - and the Millcreek Blu-ray disc is region 'A' and the Indicator is region FREE - playable world-wide - but the Dual-format version with booklet is limited to 5,000 copies.

No extras on the Millcreek - save the second film - and the Indicator offers an audio commentary by The Hysteria Continues team: Justin Kerswell (author of Teenage Wasteland: The Slasher Movie Uncut) Joseph Henson, Erik Threlfall and Nathan Johnson that is fun and educational. There is an image gallery of on-set and promotional material, a trailer and 4 TV spots, plus this limited edition has an exclusive 24-page booklet with extracts from the original press kit, advertising and promotion guide, and selected film reviews. There is also a second disc DVD.

The Indicator Blu-ray a/v is an advancement - and the commentary and booklet, extras, add further value. Not a classic slasher flic but it carries its own charm/nostalgia and would have benefitted without some of its exploitive hokiness - but, of course that is what places it in its genre. Glenn Ford gives it some class, but he 's not in it enough. Melissa Sue Anderson is quite good, too. Happy Birthday to Me is definitely a product of its, early 80s, time, - much longer than the usual - but that's not necessarily a bad thing for lovers of this genre. Indicator continue to impress with complete packages.

Gary W. Tooze

Menus / Extras

Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Screen Captures

 

1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-rayy TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Indicator - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Cover and purchase link

 

 

 

   

 

Millcreek - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Indicator Spine #06 - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Indicator (Powerhouse) initial slate of Blu-rays
Spine #001 Spine #002 Spine #003 Spine #004

Spine #005

Spine #006

Spine #008 Spine #010 Spine #012 Spine #013 Spine #019 Spine #020

 


 



 

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Gary Tooze

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