Final Destination 2 – Highway Nightmare Still Induces Anxiety

Ginny’s life is perfect, but as the audience slowly learns over the course of Happy Birthday to me, It has not always been the case. And as the title of the 1981 film suggests, Ginny’s growing sense of dread has everything to do with a traumatic anniversary from her past. Unfortunately for Ginny, another dreadful birthday awaits her in the near future.

According to his memoirs, the way i see it, Melissa Sue Anderson was excited when she landed her first big-screen role; she was excited to play someone other than the tragic Mary Ingalls when she joined the cast of J. Lee Thompsonof the Cinepix production. Her role in the popular television series little house on the prairie had already been significantly reduced, so vacation planning was also not an issue. Between June and August 1980, the cast and crew of Happy Birthday to me shot in Montreal, Canada. Little did they all know they were doing what would become one of the weirdest and best ’80s slashers to come out of the decade.

Set in and around Crawford Academy prep school, the film follows Anderson’s high school character, Virginia “Ginny” Wainwright, as she navigates her way through her senior year. Ginny is the latest addition to an elite group of students called the Top Ten. When they’re not racing across a double-swing drawbridge, the Top Ten cause trouble at a local pub. Everyone puts up with this juvenile behavior because of the privileged status of the students, but someone in town is less forgiving. Ginny and her friends are soon hunted down one by one by a mugger who surprises their identities until the climactic end of the film.

The early 1980s was a good time to be a slasher fan (and a bad time for less interested film critics). This distinct stream of sinister thrillers, however, had essentially dried up the gimmick well by the time Happy Birthday to me came out of. Summer camp, graduation, prom, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day – it seemed like there were no special events or holidays left when the producers John Dunning and Andrew LinkThe film finally took off. They ultimately chose birthdays – producers may not have made another slasher called bloody anniversary was in the works around the same time – and their screenwriter, John Saxton. Of course, the script underwent major rewrites later, including changing the antagonist.

Even with a different killer, the story continually points to Ginny as the culprit. Ginny’s innocence is in the air from the start as she shows up late to a Top Ten rally after Bernadette (Lesleh Donaldson) disappears. The clique outcast and admirer of Ginny, Alfred (Jack Blum), is also a suspect; Ginny and Anna (Tracey E. Bregman) stumbles upon his lair of eerily realistic replicas, including one of Bernadette’s head. Between the two characters, however, only Ginny is physically murdering her friends. She is unmistakably the one who stabs one victim in the gut with shears before later delivering a shish kebab skewer to another’s mouth. The uninitiated viewer has no choice but to trust their eyes before the formidable conclusion brings the house down.

Ginny’s guilt is reinforced by a series of blackouts and an unshakeable, repressed memory. The experimental brain procedure she underwent four years ago causes Ginny to randomly pass out, and now she wakes up with no memory of her activities. Ginny even finds herself near Ann’s corpse in the tub before it conveniently disappears without a trace in the next scene. Viewers get suspicious when a movie reveals its cards so early, but eIt all starts to make more sense when the clock strikes midnight on Ginny’s eighteenth birthday.

A potent cocktail of red herrings and misdirection of the plot convinced everyone, including Ginny herself, the Last Girl is also the villain with a spotty memory. Slashers largely refrain from this kind of a-ha twist because it feels like a betrayal. Fortunately, Happy Birthday to me is not one of these exceptions. Vincent Canby’s 1981 review for The New York Times draws attention to the film’s confusing story. In his defense, that’s why Thompson’s film is so memorable when pitted against other slashers from the same time period.

The convoluted narrative has a lot to do with Timothy Bond and Pierre Jobinmajor reworking of Saxton’s script. As Anderson notes in her memoir, she “was so compelling as a nice girl that they didn’t want to sacrifice public sympathy” when it turned out that Ginny was the killer throughout the story. original. This mid-production change required a plaster cast of Anderson’s entire head so that the effects team could then fabricate a latex mask of his face. The rewrite was shaping up to be something unique, but that spark of creativity was lost on critics already tired of slasher oversaturation at the time.

Top Ten deaths are never as collectively bizarre as promised in Columbia Pictures promotional material, and very few of the aftermath of the killer’s work are ever shown on screen, if at all. Photos from the set, however, prove that the special effects artist Tom Birman – who replaced Stephan Dupuis before filming began – had prepared bloody eye candy. Fans of hands-on viscera will be disappointed by their absence from the individual executions, but the fruits of Burman and his team’s three weeks of hard work can be seen in the planned anniversary party. The film’s fodder is gathered around a scalloped table for a macabre celebration of Ginny’s birth and the unveiling of the real killer. The revelation is, suffice it to say, shocking. Found here is perhaps the most scooby-doo-ish of killer unmaskings with a viscous self-motivation similar to Wes Craven’s debut Scream.

“Now that everyone is gathered here, sing loud and clear
Happy birthday: ‘Happy birthday’ to me…”

With the outcome always in mind and SyreetaThe haunting ballad playing over the end credits, viewers are reminded that not all slashers live by the “go big or go home” rule. Happy Birthday to me shunned convention long before metatextual stories and increasingly fearless sequels became the norm for the subgenre. So while Golden Age slashers are enjoyable overall, the epic and singular quality of this movie is the icing on the cake.


Horror contemplates in detail how young people deal with outsized situations and all of life’s unexpected challenges. While the genre forces characters of all ages to face their fears, it is particularly concerned with how young people might fare in life-or-death scenarios.

The column new blood is dedicated to horror stories for and about teenagers, as well as other young people on the brink of terror.

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