by Anthony King
I'll be celebrating my 39th birthday on April 20th, and with that comes the end of “Two for One” and the beginning of a new column I'm calling “52/82,” wherein I'll be covering 52 movies from 1982 to commemorate the last year of my 30s. I think it's important for us to celebrate birthdays. Not just for kids, but adults too. I've survived 39 years! You've survived (fill in the blank) years! If you're reading this, you've survived a global pandemic! Celebrate with me! And there's no better way to celebrate by cozying up for a double feature of two birthday horrors.
While Bloody Birthday is shockingly violent, and the fact that Debbie, Curtis, and Steven are spawns of Satan, I wasn't phased because I know how cruel children can be. Have you ever given a speech to a group of kids, or sang a song, or told jokes, and you get nothing but silence and blank stares in return? I have and it made me want to die. And I was a grown ass adult. So when Debbie and her boy-toys from hell beat her father to death with a baseball bat, I thought to myself, Of COURSE they did.
Birthday celebrations continue with Happy Birthday to Me from director J. Lee Thompson, whose career trajectory I adore. Probably best known for directing Gregory Peck in The Guns of Navarone and Cape Fear in the early 1960s, Thompson had a very respectable run of “traditional” pictures all the way through Battle for the Planet of the Apes in 1973. Then he met Charles Bronson and teamed up for some of the greatest exploitation movies of the 1980s like 10 to Midnight, The Evil That Men Do, Murphy's Law, and the ultra-sleazy Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects. But shortly after his collaborations with Bronson began in the late 70s, bringing us back to our double feature, Thompson directed the slasher Happy Birthday to Me.
Bloody Birthday is clearly a Halloween rip-off, all the way down to tracking shots of high school girls walking through a quiet neighborhood, but does goes its own way by including three minions from Hell. HBTM is prime J. Lee Thompson sleaze and feels innately Canadian because it was shot in Canada and primarily features Canadian actors (a la My Bloody Valentine). You may get these movies confused, and why shouldn't you? All these 20- something white girls looked the same to me and I couldn't keep them straight. But you'll be watching this double in honor of my birthday. So happy birthday to me!