My Bloody Valentine (1981) – After a cave-in occurs during a time when people are partying their little Valentine hearts out manic miner Harry Warden flies off the pickaxe handle and kills a load of revellers. When we flash forward to many years later it’s no surprise that the town is still reluctant to hold any celebrations on that particular day. The grisly shadow cast by Harry Warden puts a dampener on proceedings but, this year, some of the younger residents are determined to have their own little bit of fun. That’s surely not the way to a long and happy life.
One of the better, albeit “lesser”, slasher/bodycount movies of the 80s, My Bloody Valentine (1981) has two big plus points. One is the use of the miner’s workwear (including facemask) as the killer’s costume. The other is it’s fun moments of nastiness. Not all of the deaths are particularly impressive but most of them have that sadistic, gritty quality that a lot of movies from the era seemed to do so well. Bodies are broken, hearts are removed, even eyes are traumatised when the violence starts to snowball towards the predictable, but no less enjoyable, climax.
The cast are all relatively unknown but everybody does okay, considering that everyone onscreen is little more than a potential victim for when the fun begins. Lori Hallier plays Sarah, the girl stuck in a love triangle with “T.J” (Paul Kelman) and Axel (Neil Affleck), while Don Francks plays Police Chief Newby and Larry Reynolds does just fine as the town’s mayor.
The script, by John Beaird, is passable enough as it hits most of the slasher movie notes and also keeps a nice whodunit element in the mix. Then we have the direction from George Mihalka, just as good as the script in it’s combination of workmanlike solidity and knowing playfulness.
Eagle-eyed genre fans may note that as events pick up again on Thursday, February 12th this means that the fateful Valentine’s Day is on Saturday, February 14th with a familiar Friday 13th sitting between the two.
There’s also a wonderful little song over the end credits entitled “The Ballad of Harry Warden”. Written by Paul Zazaa, and sung by John McDermott, it’s something that should be cheesy and quickly forgotten but somehow makes a very good impression and adds yet another point to a generic horror movie that, every step of the way, rises up to become much more than the sum of it’s parts.
My Bloody Valentine (2009) – Jensen Ackles (known to many from his role in “Supernatural“) plays Tom Hanniger, a young man who returns to his local town to sell off his father’s mine. He does so ten years after surviving a murder spree by Harry Warden, a disgruntled miner with a carefree attitude to swinging a pick-axe into anyone’s face.
Hanniger’s ex-girlfriend, Sarah (played by Jaime King) is now married to the local sheriff, Axel (played by Kerr Smith) and while they ALL used to be friends it’s clear nowadays that there’s a lot of tension as soon as Hanniger walks back into their lives. That tension is elevated when the killer miner appears to be back on the warpath too. Valentine’s Day is going to see more people than usual open up their hearts.
Starting off with an impressive killing spree, My Bloody Valentine (2009) never really lets the pace slacken all that much. There are plenty faces to familiarise yourself with before seeing them picked off and the kills are all surprisingly impressive in ways that remind you of squirming on the sofa all those years ago when you were allowed to watch a sneakily rented “video nasty”.
Some of the effects are a little fake but that only made me wish that I’d seen the film when it was released in cinemas in 3-D as opposed to watching it in plain old 2-D at home. Having said that, 3-D should not make or break a movie and this film does just fine in normal viewing mode too.
It has a great cast made up of popular, young faces (Ackles is a young actor I have enjoyed watching on TV and enjoy just as much in movies, much like his small-screen brother, Jared Padalecki) and genre fan favourites (take a bow Mr Tom Atkins . . . . oh yes) and everyone does well, especially considering they’re all simply running through a slasher movie with a higher budget than most.
With some nice touches and twists that should definitely please fans of the original movie I can tell you that this film is a lot of fun and certainly doesn’t shy away from showing off some eye-poppingly (sometimes literally), entertaining kills from a killer who makes a decent impression with the imagery that the miner’s mask/headlight provides. Well worth a watch.
DIRECTOR: GEORGE MIHALKA/PATRICK LUSSIER
STARS: NEIL AFFLECK, PAUL KELMAN, LORI HALLIER/JENSEN ACKLES, JAIME KING, KERR SMITH, TOM ATKINS
RUNTIME: 93 MINS APPROX/101 MINS APPROX
My Bloody Valentine (1981 ) Film Rating:
My Bloody Valentine (2008 ) Film Rating:
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