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MELISSA SUE ANDERSON 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME' WITH GLENN FORD

year: 1981 cast: Melissa Sue Anderson, Glenn Ford, Matt Craven, Jack Blum rating: ****

A thoroughly entertaining horror flick starring Melissa Sue Anderson as Virginia Wainwright. Beautiful blue eyes and a soft-spoken, delicate countenance, Virginia seems so normal – but she has a dark back-story, shown in effective flashes, while her college pals get picked off one by one...

Her sympathetic fatherly shrink, played by veteran icon Glenn Ford, tries to figure out her problems having something to do with a frantic (and now dead) mother.

Melissa Sue Anderson in HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

Directed with steely precision by J. Lee Thompson, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME is a genre gift with just about everything. The death scenes are creative... including a shish kebab snack you'll never forget... and suspenseful despite there being too many fake-outs: thinking someone's a goner when it's really a practical joke.

Melissa Sue Anderson does a fine job as the vulnerable starlet who grows more and more intense... winding up a very bloody birthday party. This scene is fine till an 11th hour plot twist corny enough to make soap opera fans wince. But let’s not blame a bad ending on an underrated gem providing slasher flick deaths with effective suspense, and some dark humor for good measure. 

Meatballs actors Jack Blum and Matt Craven in HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
Melissa Sue Anderson in HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
Melissa Sue Anderson in HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME with Glenn Ford
Melissa Sue Anderson in HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
Melissa Sue Anderson in HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
Melissa Sue Anderson in HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
Melissa Sue Anderson in HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

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