Happy Birthday To Me (UK - DVD R2 | BD)
Marcus is super late with the review for this cult weird but wonderful 80s slasher.
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. [Taken from Official Synopsis]
The presentation here is clean with fine detail and a great use of colour. Reds are particularly strong but blue eyes and other odd elements pop out of the deep, dark blackness the presentation also does well with.
Daytime set scenes actually look a bit hazier than the night ones with more noticeable grain from time to time and not as interesting to look at without the various clever use of lighting. Speaking of lighting, light sources are great, from streetlamps to the reflection off of the ominous switchblade victims get to see before they're offed. This really lifts the film from looking all that dated and gives the film a fresh appearance that's HD overhaul should please fans with.
The 5.1 track does a good job at expanding the original mono track's already solid audio presentation. Everything sounds balanced with neither the front or rear hogging the weight, but sharing the load extremely well.
The strong score fills the room well, with dialogue remaining clear and crisp with little to fault. From screams to slices, leather gloves tightening to conversations about the events unfolding this track does the cult favourite a great service and upgrades the audio presentation for an HD audience without messing around with it too much.
The first extra enables you to view the film with an an 'Alternative Soundtrack' presented as LPCM 1.0.
The audio commentary with podcast crew The Hysteria Continues is clear fans of the film talking through the psychological mystery horror in the fun ways friends tend to with lots of facts as well as a few fun observations along the way. It's well structured and well paced and well worth a listen.
Filing out the extras is a theatrical trailer, 4 TV Spots and an image gallery. There's also a booklet but I never received that for this review.
Happy Birthday To Me is maybe too long for a conventional slasher but its weird approach offers a bit more to deal with that the usual slasher fare and actually requires that bit of extra runtime to unravel itself. It's fun, takes itself seriously but retains the required tone for this to remain fun. The disc looks fantastic, the audio is equally impressive and the commentary just about covers the lack of real extras. Fans will love this release (and no doubt already are - sorry for the late review everyone) and newbies will get a real kick (or skewer through the mouth) out of it.
* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer. Additionally, at this time we do not know the actual release date for the Blu-ray.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 12th December 2016
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Englisjh, LPCM Mono
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Extras: Alternative Soundtrack, Commentary, Trailer, TV Spots, Image Gallery
Easter Egg: No
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Cast: Glenn Ford, Melissa Sue Anderson
Length: 110 minutes
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