19. Happy Birthday To Me (1981)
Part of the holiday theme cycle of slasher film inspired by the success of John Carpenter's Halloween, Happy Birthday To Me is a classic whodunit injected with a heaping helping of gore and an atypical mostly male victim roster. At the snobby Crawford Academy, Virginia's (Melissa Sue Anderson) group of friends start to go missing years after horrible events that happened to her as a child around her birthday.
At face value, you’d be forgiven for expecting the obvious. By the time this film was released we’d already had Friday The 13th, Graduation Day, My Bloody Valentine, et al; so what was left to terrorize in terms of notable calendar dates? Well hey; everyone has a birthday, right?
Whereas the majority of those aforementioned titles were more or less clones of the buzzing slasher genre’s former alumni, Happy Birthday To Me stands apart, simply because it has enough wit and, quite frankly, intelligence to display self recognition.
HBTM is now considered a verifiable classic to gore-hounds everywhere. Many of the genre’s rules/clichés that we now take for granted were forged by this opus and no real slasher fan should exclude this well wrapped gift from their collection. Whether you buy the outlandishness of the final reveal or not, the atmospheric and delightfully grotesque party scene is one for the ages.