FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE...beware yon spoilers!

Feb 15, 2006

I Heart: My Bloody Valentine

I'd been toying with the idea of making some sort of list of my favorite slasher flicks, but then I came up with a sweeter alternative: the "I Heart" series. Every once in a while I'll write about/review one of my super faves, and I'll stick "I Heart" in front of the title like a stamp of approval. Then I won't have to deal with that whole pain in the arse numbering system...I mean, lists are so 2 weeks ago, you know? I'm like that lady Kool & the Gang sang about: I'm fresh and exciting.

The inaugural entry in the series hails from the magical far-away land known as "Canada": 1981's My Bloody Valentine. Made early-on in the slasher heyday, MBV is obviously an attempt to cash in on the "holiday" craze prevalent in the genre. While the movie does hold with certain conventions of the slasher flick, it's a polished and mature effort that's a cut above most.

20 years ago, in the sleepy town Valentine Bluffs, an explosion trapped several miners thousands of feet below the earth. It was the night of the town's annual Valentine's Day dance, you see, and a few supervisors were so hot to trot that they left their posts unattended. Of the miners, only Harry Warden survived...and when he was finally rescued weeks after the accident, he was a stark raving nutso who had stayed alive by eating his fallen brethren. Harry was rightfully committed to an asylum, but got out and took his revenge on the neglectful supervisors years later- on the night of the Valentine's dance. Harry warned the town that so long as they held the dance, people would die. The town cried 'uncle' and has been danceless ever since...until now! The townspeople felt it was finally time to stick a metaphorical middle finger up at Harry Warden and get on with the V-Day festivities. Soon after the red construction paper hearts get taped up, however, folks end up getting killed. It seems that Harry's back and mighty pissed off at Valentine Bluffs...

Sounds by-the-book, right? Sure it does. But as I said, there's some small touches in MBV that set it apart from the pack.

First and foremost, the characters aren't your typical horny zit-faced teens. The men in MBV spend their days toiling away in the coal mines, and when 5:00 rolls around, it's Miller Time. These characters seem to have real lives, and the movie captures the feel of a small working-class town and its inhabitants quite well. It's as if these young men and women find themselves saying "is this IT?" regarding their lives, but they chug along anyway and do the best they can. Ex-lovers TJ and Sarah (Paul Kelman and Lori Hallier) are very real, very well-drawn characters- surprising in a slasher movie. TJ has returned to Valentine Bluffs after attempting to get away for good. He doesn't elaborate, but it seems he failed miserably at starting a new life in California. Now he's back and resigned to a life working in his father's mine. When TJ and Axel (Neil Affleck) come to blows over who's going to be Sarah's main squeeze, Sarah says, quite downtroddenly: "I just don't care anymore". These aren't simply nameless teens trying to score in a sleeping bag- My Bloody Valentine feels much more authentic. As screenwriter John Beaird said, he and director George Mihalka were trying to make "the Deer Hunter of horror films".

The setting of MBV also works to set it apart from the pack. A majority of the film was shot inside the Sydney Mines, near Cape Breton- it's not simply "the woods" or a soundstage. Low-wattage lights had to be used during filming to avoid explosions, which simply adds to the atmosphere. Harry Warden fades in and out of darkness as he stalks the mine shafts, his single head-lamp shining through the smoke. It's a fantastic place to film a horror movie, and Mihalka uses the mine to maximum effect: characters get lost, hear unidentifiable sounds...it's all exceedingly creepy.

Shot under an extremely tight timeline with a budget of around $2 million, My Bloody Valentine looks and feels better than movies with more money to play with. The cast, largely unknown, is above average in the acting department. While every single death scene was cut-up to meet MPAA restrictions, MBV still has its share of gruesome gore. Someday, hopefully, the restored footage will find its way onto DVD.

The wide-open ending sets up a sequel perfectly, and apparently there's one in the works, tentatively titled My Bloody Valentine 2: Return of the Miner. In the proposed sequel, TJ and Sarah are married with kids...Sarah's the sheriff of Valentine Bluffs, and the killings begin again.

This often over-looked entry in the slasher genre deserves more attention, and I'd certainly welcome a sequel. It was one of my favorite flicks when I was a young-un, and still...I Heart My Bloody Valentine!

For more info, check out the absolutely huge interview with director George Mihalka over at Terror Trap. They've also got a MBV gallery for your viewing pleasure.

16 comments:

Chris Hopper said...

Never seen it, but you have convinced me. I'll give it a shot if I can dig it up.

Stacie Ponder said...

People seem to be pretty well-divided down the "love it/hate it" line with this movie.

It's not earth-shattering or profound- it does fit right into the slasher formula. I think it's better than most, though, so if you're in the mood for a quality genre flick than you should dig it!

Be sure to chime in with your thoughts if you catch it sometime.

Ali P said...

I have never seen it but I will now.

Anonymous said...

I sasw the movie years ago when it first came out and thought it was great. When it comes out on dvd I'll pick it up for sure. Worth watching.

Chadwick H. Saxelid said...

This one is definitely one of the better slasher movies. It manages to have some real character (both visually and content wise) to it. Unlike, say, Joe Zito's The Prowler. (I liked The Prowler, but that doesn't make it any less by-the-numbers in its approach.)

Lunchmeat said...

My favorite movie of all time.

Anonymous said...

The first horror movie I sat all the way through and I can remember how powerful it was. The ending is just eerie and sad all at the same time. I really wasn't a horror fan growing up, but seeing this film started me down the road to becoming one. Plus, it inspired one of the greatest musical acts of the 80s/90s!

John Barleycorn said...

Just saw this last night. Excellent film!

Robbblog said...

I was at the filming site two years ago on the way to a Beach Boys concert. The location is Sydney Mines in Nova Scotia, Canada. The buildings at the mine are torn down, but around the town you spot things, the bar is still in operation, the buildings that housed the laundrymat and the police station are still in town and the streets from the film are very recognizable.

Christine Collins said...

St. valentine day is the best holiday!

Jason Macdonald said...

I recently discovered that this movie was filmed in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, a town near the one where I was born and raised. Its not too often I get to see my local area used as the fictional setting of a movie so I was immediately intrigued, lol. I decided to rent it to watch with my girlfriend on Valentine's Day since we enjoy a good slasher flick from time to time. We had a great time picking out the recognizable filming locations and ultimately enjoyed the film. The setting gives the movie a creepy feeling and the storyline is better than most movies of this genre. We also got a kick out of the notion of a group of teenagers throwing a party and serving boiled hot dogs, lol.

Anonymous said...

Looks like there's going to be a remake...My Bloody Valentine 3-D.

http://www.shocktillyoudrop.com/news/topnews.php?id=5504

One Winchester brother is off to fight Voorhees in Friday the 13th. The other, it was announced today, will go head-to-head with Harry Warden in Lionsgate's My Bloody Valentine 3-D.

Jensen Ackles, of Supernatural, "will play Tom, a handsome, principled man who returns to his home in Harmony, Mo., 10 years after 22 people were murdered on Valentine's night. Back in Montana, Tom finds he still is smitten with his first love, Sarah, and is now a murder suspect." Sarah, it has already been announced, will be portrayed by Jaime King.

Patrick Lussier is helming this remake of the '80s Canadian slasher film.

In Supernatural, Ackles is Dean Winchester who, with bro Sam (Jared Padalecki) take on freaky, paranormal cases. Ackles' other credits include 2005's Devour.

Anonymous said...

They are filming MBV-2 as we speak in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.I watched some of the filming last night.supposedly a Lions Gate production. Cant wait!!!!

Anonymous said...

That movie was wonderful.
I'm dissapointed with the remake, but I dunno, it might revive it, and Jenson Ackles..ooo wee ! he's good looking :D

hitay said...

I will watch this for sure.


http://www.directgamez.com/flash/pwf2.htm

Erik said...

Love this movie also,love your blog also. Just picked up the new edition of MBV.

http://nyraveryandmovies.blogspot.com/