Friday, February 14, 2014

Quickie Retrospective: My Bloody Valentine (1981)

My Bloody Valentine
Director: George Mihalka
Starring: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Don Francks, Cynthia Dale, Alf Humphreys
Rated: R

Beware of what you make fun of, you little asshole!

Happy bloody Valentine's Day readers!  Time to celebrate with the essential holiday classic!  This film is likely my favorite non-Jason/Freddy/Michael slasher film of all time.  In fact, its better than most of those guys entries.  Its even been enhanced for a better experience in recent years.  It came out at the very height of the slasher craze back in 1981.   But for me, it was one of those late night tv and video store VHS staples that was grounds for constant watching.  Funny enough, I never owned it own VHS, I had a recording of it off of TV from USA Up All Night (man, I miss that era).  The night they showed it was Saturday, which meant Gilbert Gottfried was the host.  So every commercial break or intro back would lead to him saying "Moi Blawwdy Vahhhlentinnne".  If I've not noted before, USA Up All Night, be it Rhonda Shear or Gilbert was a staple of my youth, introducing me to a lot of horror, cult and schlock films.
My Bloody Valentine was a small Canadian production that decided to cash in on the slasher craze going on.  And, yeah, its REALLY Canadian.  There's Moosehead bear all over the place.  But, the best part is the accents.  The actors challenge themselves with trying to hide them, but at a certain point they just don't give a rip and let loose.  It seems the greater the intensity gets, the more the Canadian spills out of them.  I didn't really notice it all too much as a kid, but damn if it isn't a little bit silly and extremely charming when watching it as an adult.  It also doesn't help that the 2 people who have the hardest time disguising their accents are our two male leads.  But, like I said, it adds more charm than anything.
Censorship was a key factor is building the legend of this film.  It was rumored back in the day that 9 minutes were cut from the film.  Paramount, who ended up picking this up for distribution, was overcautious after Friday The 13th - Part 2 and succombed to every demand the MPAA had.  And the MPAA demanded every kill scene in the movie be edited.  It's been theorized that the MPAA was out to cut down violence in film as a result of John Lennon's death, which occurred a few months prior to My Bloody Valentine's release.  When this film was released it was a largely bloodless affair.  Normally this type of footage for a production of this manner is tossed out, but somebody held onto it and for years people were demanding Paramount put it back in and release an uncut version.
Without being in its proper format, the film was still quite a fun little affair.  The story is built around 2 former best friends fighting over a girl.  One of them has just come back after taking of for reasons unexplained.  We have a final girl here, but in a unique turn she's largely in the background as our focus is these two guys struggles with the current situation and past friendship.  She's more just caught in the middle of it.  One of the greatest strengths of the film is its unique location.  It's set in a mining town and all the characters work in the mine.  For the final section of the film it takes place in the mine.  And its not just fluff either, they make full use of the mine and its kind of its own character.  The cinematography on the film is quite awesome for a production of this stature as it really gives a 3 dimensional look to everything and you get a full sense of a location that you really probably have never been to.  So, without the blood and guts, it still has fun characters with an interesting story outside of the killings, a great look and location for the danger, and it still has that great twist ending and mystery.
Luckily, Lionsgate came in with the save when they acquired the home video rights for the film in 2009.  They restored what ended up being 2.5 minutes back in the film.  And the film finally can be a true king of the slashers now.  It also helps that this has a JAW-DROPPING video transfer.  Seriously, while I love this film, it does not deserve to look THIS GOOD.  This new footage has some awesome, very brutal kills the features some exception make-up and effects work that its a damn shame didn't get to be seen and appreciated back then.  There's a difference in quality when this blu-ray edition switches to the cut stuff, but it helps show just how damn much they cut from the film.  And it really was an excessive amount.  Literally every time some teeny act of violence happened, seconds were excised.  There were some amazing death scenes in My Bloody Valentine, some of the all-time slasher best, and they were never truly seen until 2009.  But, luckily its out there now for us to enjoy.
Every Valentine's Day this is a bloody fun tradition.  I really love this little movie.  I think it still could scare at the right age, but for me its just about all the fun.  It really sucks this never got sequelized.  I would have loved to have seen a My Bloody Valentine 5 at the least.  The Harry Warden outfit is one of the greatest in slasher history and only got used one time.  The gas masked, coal miner slaying with a pick axe was chilling and horrific.  It was a golden idea and it worked so well on celluloid.  But alas, another film never got going.  Its crazy when you think what DID get multiple sequels and this didn't.  Plus you'd think Paramount would have been wanting to double up and have another Jason (maybe we'd have had a Harry VS Jason movie).  But, also Harry Warden never got the overkill.  So, we're left wanting more, and I guess that's how you know you went out on a high.

NEXT TIME:  We did get a remake, though, so one more pick axe adventure awaits!  In the meantime, listen to this badass song from the original!

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