Valentine’s Day is under a week away! Maybe you hate Valentine’s Day on principal. Perhaps you’re single. Maybe you don’t want to be dragged out for an expensive dinner just weeks after Christmas. Or maybe you’re just a rabid horror fan looking for an ‘alternative’ movie to curl up with on the couch. Fortunately, the horror genre has something to offer for just about every calendar holiday. In this edition of Re-Animated, it’s all about Valentine’s Day, as we take a look at the two versions of semi-classic, My Bloody Valentine.
Oh Canada! A Great White North Slasher
Following the success of Friday the 13th, studios rushed to release cheaply made slasher movies that cashed in on the successful formula. One of the better B-level slasher films was Canadian entry, My Bloody Valentine. While it was a smaller movie, slasher fans cite it as one of the better examples of the sub-genre.
Director George Mihalka’s film also achieved some notoriety upon its release. Friday the 13th’s success had the unintended effect of attracting the attention of critics and moral entrepreneurs. The result was swift condemnation and censorship. Soon slasher films found themselves in a give-and-take with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to avoid an X-rating. As a result, six to eight minutes of footage from My Bloody Valentine was reportedly excised. Fortunately for horror purists, this cut footage was saved, restored, and included in the 2009 Blu-Ray release of the movie.
Even Masked Killers Hate Valentine’s Day
My Bloody Valentine is set in the fictional mining town of Valentine’s Bluff. Twenty years earlier, an accident left several miners trapped underground. Harry Warren, the sole survivor, murdered and cannibalized his fellow miners. Driven insane by the experience, Harry Warden takes revenge against the two supervisors who triggered the accident after skipping their duties to attend the annual Valentine’s Day dance. Warden, arrested and committed to an asylum, vowed to return and kill again if the town ever held another Valentine’s Day dance. When a group of young miners dismiss Warden’s warning as legend and decide to hold a Valentine’s Day dance the murders resume.
My Bloody Valentine A Surprisingly Efective Slasher
There’s a reason horror fans praise My Bloody Valentine. On the one hand, the story is formulaic even for this subgenre. Nevertheless, the movie’s low-budget aesthetics lend some authenticity to the familiar story. In terms of film quality, My Bloody Valentine looks much better than most of its B-level contemporaries. The killer’s ‘miner’ disguise is one of the better designs for a slasher antagonist. Mihalka also stages several effective scares and death scenes. You’ll never look at your dryer or a boiling pot of hot dog wieners the same way after My Bloody Valentine.
…the movie has a more creepy and claustrophobic sense of dread than what you’ll find in the typical slasher film.
This is a low-budget horror film, so we’re not talking about Oscar-calibre performances. But the actors are believable in their roles. Most importantly, My Bloody Valentine boasts characters that are actually likeable. It helps that the story focuses on adults rather than the slasher trope of horny teenagers. Mihalka also puts a lot more effort into developing an engaging atmosphere. The final third of the film takes place in an actual abandoned mine. As a result, the movie has a more creepy and claustrophobic sense of dread than what you’ll find in the typical slasher film. It’s the final act of My Bloody Valentine that elevates it above most of its peers.
The Right Movie, And the Right Approach for a Remake
By the latter half of the 2000’s, ‘torture porn’ movies were meeting with diminishing box office returns. In response, Hollywood began raiding dusty VHS shelves for 80’sslasher movies to re-make. Studios quickly worked their way through the classics. From The Hills Have Eyes and Halloween to Friday the 13th, it wasn’t long before directors moved on to the B-level entries. While most of these remakes were misfires, My Bloody Valentine is the example of how to do a remake right.
My Bloody Valentine Remake is Bloody Fun
Director Patrick Lussier and screenwriter Todd Farmer take the original’s basic premise and dial up the gore and nudity by ten. This time around there’s more emphasis on the mystery surrounding the killer’s identity. And the remake’s twist is certainly more over-the-top. Yet this is all in keeping with the remake’s overall tone. My Bloody Valentine is an intentionally and, quite frankly, delightfully insane remake. CGI blood is spilled with a manic energy. Not much makes sense, the characters are paper thin, and the dialogue is tone-deaf. Still it doesn’t matter because the remake clearly doesn’t want to be taken seriously.
…the My Bloody Valentine remake never takes itself seriously …
Lussier’s My Bloody Valentine is a pure popcorn flick that lets you shut off your brain. It’s the kind of horror movie best enjoyed watching with others. Horror purists will take issue with the CGI gore and 3D effects. In theatres, the 3D gimmick impressed, but it does look staged and gimmicky on television screens. Ultimately, the My Bloody Valentine remake never takes itself seriously and instead focuses on giving slasher fans a briskly paced, fun horror ride.
Make It a Double-Date Night
The original My Bloody Valentine is something of a minor 80’s slasher classic. If you asked me to recommend a slasher film not called Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, or Halloween, the original My Bloody Valentine would be my first suggestion. No, the remake doesn’t improve upon or even approach the original. Nevertheless, it’s gleefully over-the-top approach is a welcome change of pace for a remake. As compared to other remakes like The Stepfather or Prom Night, the My Bloody Valentine remake is Wuthering Heights. If you go into this one with the right expectations you’ll find a fun horror movie.