My Bloody Valentine (1981)

February 14th, 2009 by Anna McKibben

My Bloody Valentine (1981)   my bloody val dvdart1 85x120 reviews horror Director: George Mihalka
Writer: John Beaird, based on a story by Stephen A. Miller
Release Year: Theatrical Cut -- 1981 / Uncut DVD -- 2008

Harry Warden: He’ll mine your heart, then put it in a nice box and send it to the town mayor.

Twenty years after a Valentine’s Day massacre, the mining town of Valentine Bluffs is ready to host a dance in celebration of the lovers holiday. However, a grisly reminder of Harry Warden’s murderous spree puts the town on edge: Could Harry be back to finish his gruesome business?

(Spoilers follow…)

 

My Bloody Valentine (1981)   my bloody valentine title 300x177 reviews horror

Get it? "Valentine"? Hearts? Ah, screw it.


Admittedly, my excitement for My Bloody Valentine stems from the recently released remake, which I thought was one of the better horror films to come out in a while. It helps that it was released in 3D, which is a gimmick for sure, but a very well-used one in this case. If I had to rate the remake here, I’d go with a solid 4/5. However, I’m not talking about the remake at all. My interest lies in the original, a low-budget Canadian film released in 1981. Sadly, this film seems to have fallen off many people’s radars, but with a new special edition DVD which adds in a couple extra minutes of excised gore and the aforementioned 3D remake, My Bloody Valentine‘s popularity is on the rise again.

 

My Bloody Valentine (1981)   my bloody valentine vday 300x179 reviews horror

This seems…familiar. Is this happening in 2009?


Valentine Bluffs is preparing to have another Valentine’s Dance, twenty years after a careless accident kills a group of miners. The two foremen responsible for the collapse, in a hurry to get to the town’s annual dance, neglect to release built-up methane gas in one of the tunnels, causing a massive explosion. One miner, Harry Warden (Peter Cowper) is found still alive, having survived by eating his co-workers; a year later, Warden escapes from a mental hospital and, dressed in a miner’s outfit complete with gas mask and pickax, kills the two foremen. He leaves their hearts in candy boxes to serve as a gruesome reminder of the neglect that cost him his sanity. Let me sum that up: giant fart kills miners, lone survivor becomes cannibalistic murderer. Makes sense to me.

 

My Bloody Valentine (1981)   my bloody valentine the miner 300x184 reviews horror

Harry Warden? Is that you? How are ya’, you old so-and-so!


This charming tale comes to us, and to the main characters, in the form of a flashback provided, naturally, by a crotchety old bartender named Happy (Jack Van Evera). Just so you know, Happy isn’t happy. He’s kind of a jerk. There’s some character-name irony going on there.

Anyhow, the key characters in the story are really Jessie/T.J. (Paul Kelman), Sarah (Lori Hallier) and Axel (Neil Affleck, no relation to Ben). T.J. is the son of the mayor and owner of Hanniger Mines, Sarah was his girlfriend before he inexplicably left town a few years back, and Axel is Sarah’s new squeeze. There is a very good love triangle sub-plot involving these three, giving the film a bit more of a smart tone than a lot of other slasher films. Also, the supporting characters are very likable, making it that much more difficult to see them killed in all sorts of brutal, gruesome ways. One guy even gets the death of my dreams: drowned in a boiling pot of hot dogs.

 

My Bloody Valentine (1981)   my bloody valentine sarah and tj 300x202 reviews horror

Sir! May I please warn you: there are to be no ascots worn in the mine! Thank you!


With this new special edition release of My Bloody Valentine, we finally get to see more of these brutal, gruesome murders. Most of the original gore scenes were trimmed back upon initial release, although in my opinion, the film doesn’t suffer the loss terribly. It is still very effective, particularly the scenes in the mine. But admittedly, the newly-found footage adds a whole new level of cruelty to the picture. One scene in particular, Mabel’s (Patricia Hamilton) death in a laundromat, improves greatly with the gore: in the original film, her body just pops out of the dryer, seemingly of its own accord, and we get a glimpse of the severe burn damage. With the original footage spliced back in, we see that the police chief (Don Francks) notices a horrible smell, and then opens the dryer himself. We also get to see Mabel’s body spinning in the dryer as it falls out, the corpse tumbling around like a rag doll. Cut in some nice reaction shots from the chief and, bam, a whole new level of unease permeates the scene.

Another scene that is improved with the added footage happens late in the game when the gang is trapped in the mine with the murderous Miner. In the theatrical cut, we see T.J., Sarah, and Patty (Cynthia Dale) climbing a ladder to get out. A victim’s body falls, spraying blood on the ladies. We assume that the Miner somehow killed this unfortunate; however, in the uncut version we see that this fellow was actually hung and that the fall tore off his head.

Aside from all of that, this film is one of those slashers that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, along with The Prowler and Intruder. Part of me is a little sad that this didn’t spawn a franchise, seeing as how the look of the Miner is so iconic, but then I remember: who out there is really overjoyed that there are twelve Friday The 13th movies, each more mindless than the last? I mean, honestly, who? Okay, I like the fourth one a lot, but…see where this is going?

 

Rating: My Bloody Valentine (1981)   star reviews horror My Bloody Valentine (1981)   star reviews horror My Bloody Valentine (1981)   star reviews horror My Bloody Valentine (1981)   star reviews horror My Bloody Valentine (1981)   star reviews horror

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Theatrical Poster:

My Bloody Valentine (1981)   my bloody valentine reviews horror

 

Cut DVD version artwork:

My Bloody Valentine (1981)   my bloody val dvdart reviews horror

 

Vintage 80′s trailer:

 

Special Edition DVD trailer:

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