Everyone who knows me knows I love a good "bad" movie, and if there's a few bucket-fulls of blood, guts, and maybe a lung or two on screen, then all the better.
They also know I like 'em as whack-a-doo as they can be.
Why would I want to watch something shiny and happy when there's dark and crazy to be had? I look at it as, would you rather watch Kate Hudson or Edwige Fenech?
Kate will screw up her mug in the most adorable manner (the hot chick as cute little puppy) and learn important life lessons while sparkling. Edwige will take her top off and run from bad guys. (Boys, trust me, you'd rather watch Edwige- in some movies it's like she's built out of...hmm, va-va-voom-flavored scoops of ice cream?)
Anyhow, I'll probably talk frequently about the movies I watch here. Probably, it'll be more impressions than full-on reviews... we'll see what happens.
So last night, happy hour was cancelled (I go to one or two a year just to "keep a toe in" with the co-workers) so I had a freebie night to fill with hard-core vegetating. I finally dug into "Happy Birthday To Me." It finally came in from Netflix this week after a couple months of "Very Long Wait" status.*
You'd know this one even if you haven't seen it. It's the one you saw in the video store with the picture of the guy skewered in the mouth with a skish-ka-bab on the cover. Such a shame that they changed the marketing image to some generic anemic carrying a cake with a big carving knife in it. To go from such a so-sick-it's-kinda-funny image to something that looks like a still from "Supernatural" is just so ... blah.
I had never seen this one all the way through, and hadn't seen any bit of it in well over a decade. I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed. For what I require out of a movie, this is one damn fine flick. Gloriously whack-a-doo, it brought the lungs by the bucketful -- even if they're mostly edited out (the 80s slasher flicks were made for gore hounds but distributed trimmed down for mass consumption).
The "Top Ten" (at being incredibly unlikable) rich kids at a private high school** are disappearing, much to the vague-seeming consternation of the community, school authorities and one another. We-the-audience know that they're actually getting creatively picked off by someone in black gloves that they're shown to know and trust. One gets throat-slashed, one gets his face run into a spinning motorcycle wheel like it was the meat slicer at the deli counter, one's stabbed through the mouth with an overly-complicated midnight snack, one's crushed by barbell --(I have no sympathy for him after he's shown to be (a) lifting without a spotter and (b) a douchebag), and one's fleetingly shown as being disemboweled by what look to be kitchen shears. My scissors can barely work chicken-gristle so these must've come from William-Sonoma or something...
Everything seems to circle around Ginny - blank-faced, spooky-eyed, flat-voiced Melissa Sue Anderson - an amnesiac after brain-surgery who may or may not be the killer... (who actually was really good in this and the High School witch movie "Midnight Offerings" -a MUST SEE if you can find it - she really should have made more of this type of picture, and still could today, you could empathize with her while finding her credible as a possible sociopath)
Anyhow, the kids get picked off and the killer invests what must be massive amounts of time into moving bodies and cleaning up after himself. Ginny recovers her memories thanks to the creepy-casual bedside manner of Glenn Ford. He's one of those doctors who lets hot-girl-patients one-third his age call him by his first name as he hangs out in their house rockin' the open necked shirts -he really shoulda had a gold medallion in his chest hair -- while these vulnerable-cum-nubile girls nap. But, being trustworthy, stalwart Glenn Ford, it's all cool and above-board (he was Pa Kent, fer chrissake, we could catch him wrist-deep in her and we'd be okay with it). It all builds to an ending that's overcomplicated and makes absolutely no sense. Even with hiring a (New York collapsible) construction crane, you can't suspend your disbelief high enough to believe the Scooby-Doo shenanigans at the end.
I've been reading up on the movie this morning and it gets all the more fascinating, too.
Evidently, they made up the ending while they were making the movie.
Now, this makes me love it all the more. It makes me retroactively forgive the plot holes. It also marks the point where I'll spoil any plot points-Ne'-holes I haven't already revealed.
As the story goes along, it's a slasher gloved killer style picture... then there's the mystery of "what happened to that poor girl that she can't remember"... to the poor girl had sci-fi experiments performed on her so she's crazy (eww, pulsing brain?)... so she's the target... there was a tragic accident... oh wait, she's the killer?... is she a psycho?... she doesn't remember!...so she's the innocent by-standing victim of her mother's slutty, social climbing ways being punished by karma... it's kind of a tragic accident really... she's the killer... she's taken the time to dig up a coffin (which would be really time consuming and would totally make a mess and wreck your lower back, yet it's never shown that way in the movies)... oh, she's a crazy bitch... oh, it's an oedipal thing... wait, she's not the killer... eww, where the hell did that come along?
So bland little loony Ginny, who's pretty much implied to be the killer thanks to her black-out brain damage is actually the bastard sister of her best friend, who decided to get back on this ignorant victim that no one knew was really her sister by dressing up as Ginny -an amazing waste of time unless you're hoping that either your victims survive or there's witnesses-- and killing most of their mutual friends, dragging them back to a cabin... next to a Cemetery... that may or may not be in Ginny's back yard... and staging them to resemble a party she never could have seen since she was never there, then killing Ginny's dad, and digging up Ginny's mom.
Then, when Ginny wakes to see herself and all her murdered friends at the table, the killer pulls of the incredibly convincing until removed latex mask, explicates the plot in her best James Bond villain manner then lets her last victim get the upper hand and kill her...
You hope it's because she's masterfully planned the ending of Ginny getting caught literally red-handed with all the bodies and blamed for everything although in reality it's pretty stupid to cap it with suicide-by-victim not to mention the waste of a lot of energy put into the plan to wind up not being able to gloat over it.
Why not just not become "friends" in the first place and get the friends to shun her too or knock off this chick you're annoyed with at one of many multiple opportunities, or... oh wait, then we wouldn't have had a movie and gotten to see crazy-stupid sci-fi science involving brain regeneration through the application of a giant wired metal donut to cause the human body to develop Salamander-like properties... or cool, rich kids hang out with a creepy introvert that plays with mice and makes convincing severed heads in his spare time (Because that's a hobby to have in High School that'll get your dork ass laid) or, ah... the rhapsody of seeing a uvula-spearing shish-ka-bab...
When you read that they changed the ending to add a twist, the fact that the twist isn't hinted at at all makes more sense. Part of said twist is implied in the final flashback, but it still doesn't make jack-shit sense.
It's fun, it's crazy, it makes no sense, I can't recommend it highly enough.
* I hate "Very Long Wait" status. I had Jess Franco's "Faceless" in my number one slot for a year (and yes, it WAS worth the wait). Someone, I'm thinking my Bizarro or Anti-Universe Doppelganger looks at the movies most appetizing to me and gets Netflix to buy only one copy of them. (I'm not a complete heathen, my current number one "Very Long Wait" slot is the Claude Chabrol "Madame Bovary," with Isabelle Huppert, so I'm classy... oh, wait, number two is "The Virgin of Nuremberg" with Christopher Lee, but we won't talk about that right now...)
** High School? College? It's another case of "Movie Adolescents" All the actors are in their 20s and the characters mostly hang out in a bar together (an Irish-style pub called "The Silent Woman" who's logo is a headless St. Pauli Girl... yeah, that's in no way misogynistic) and drink beer... which an 18 year old could do back in the good ol' days...