Monday, August 4, 2008

My Bloody Valentine

The 1978 release of Halloween wasn't the first slasher movie, but its astounding success certainly kick-started a genre explosion. For years, movie after movie imitated its "psycho slaughters teens" formula, for the most part with disappointing results. Some of these films even sought to replicate Halloween's holiday motif (even though Halloween is the only holiday that really fits. Friday the 13th, Mother's Day, April Fool's Day and so on tried to carry on the tradition. One of the better movies in this sequence was the 1981 Canadian production of My Bloody Valentine. (A lot of movies are filmed in Canada, but MBV is one of the few which doesn't try to pretend they're not)

The town of Valentine Bluffs, Nova Scotia is a small mining town (it isn't clear exactly what kind of mine, since the people who made the flick didn't want to bog us down with unnecessary details). Twenty-two years earlier, it was the scene of a tragedy, when a miner named Harry Warden flipped out on Valentine's Day and started butchering people, removing their hearts and packaging them in Valentine boxes. He obviously had issues. Although Harry was caught and shipped off to an asylum, he warned the town to never hold another Valentine's Day party, and the creeped-out town has followed instructions.

But over two decades have passed, and the frisky kids of the town (all the guys work in the mine, which means the cast skews a little older than most movies of this type) are itchin' to put on their boogie shoes and party. Despite warnings from the adults, they decide to throw a shindig, ultimately at the mine. The only problem is Harry Warden seems to be back, and dead bodies and hearts start showing up. After an impressive body count, the last part of the movie occurs inside the surprisingly clean and spacious mine.

There are a lot of things to like about this movie. The killer, who stalks around in miner's gear including an identity-concealing gas mask, presents a fairly eerie figure. The kills themselves, important to aficionados of the genre, are pretty imaginative. The use of a gun used to drive spikes into the walls of the mine on one victim still gives me the willies. All in all, if you're the sort who likes slasher movies, you should check this one out, since it is definitely in the top ten percent.

There is one big complaint, though, which can't be blamed on the people who made the flick. Although it was rated "R", the only version of MBV currently available has had the violence and gore severely cut, to the point where several of the deaths are not seen at all, and at most we see the reaction shots of others, and try to figure out what happened. These cuts are so heavy, there's no disguising that things are missing, and it is a constant annoyance, and mutes much of the film's impact. The cut footage supposedly still exists, so maybe one day Paramount will release an uncut version.

The ending was designed so it would be easy to make a sequel, but financing was never secured for it. In January of 2009, Paramount will release a re-make (in 3-D!), and hopefully they will release a director's cut of the original to tie in with it.

No comments: