Friday, February 14, 2014

My Bloody Valentine (1981)

The year was 1981, the place was your local theater and the silver screen was turning blood red in the wake of the 80’s slasher boom. Theater goers were treated to over twenty slasher films that year. That is pretty crazy when you think about. I have to wonder what the body count might be, cinematic-ally speaking. Black Christmas (1974), Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980) has opened up the flood gates for these types of films that seemed to enjoy being centered around some type of holiday. I remember a Mad Magazine parody of the genre titled “Arbor Day” that gave me a good chuckle even though I was still just a fledgling slasher fan.

My Bloody Valentine is one of those early slasher films that I hold dear to my knife wielding heart. For years it was an underrated classic that was usually only mentioned by the die hard slasher fans. When talk of a DVD release came about with extra footage that was excised from the theatrical and home video prints, pick axe carrying fans rejoiced. In 2009 a 3D remake was unleashed unto theaters with pretty good success. One of the few remakes that didn’t completely rewrite or ruin what had been made before.

Drinkin' the 80's.
The town of Valentine Bluffs is preparing for the Valentine’s Day dance. A celebration that had not taken place in the last twenty years due to a mining accident that had occurred the night of the dance. Five miners had been trapped in the mine after an explosion due to the negligence of their supervisors. Four of the five miners died and only one survived. The survivor was a miner named Harry Warden. He had been able to keep himself alive by eating the corpses of his dead coworkers. One year later the mentally disturbed Warden took his revenge on the two supervisors whose negligence almost killed him. He repaid them by cutting out their hears with a pickaxe and placing the hearts in heart shaped candy boxes. He also warned the town that if they ever had another dance, he would kill again.

Twenty years later the Mayor (Larry Reynolds) decides that the town should hold another dance. After all Warden has been locked up in an asylum so what could go wrong right? Well, just about everything really. It doesn’t take long for Harry’s mark to emerge when the Mayor and the Sheriff (Don Francks) find a heart shaped box containing a human heart. Another body turns up at the local Laundromat cleverly stowed away in a dryer and missing its heart. The Mayor and Sheriff have no choice but to cancel the dance. They also inquire about Harry Warden’s incarceration in the asylum but a phone call to the asylum turns up empty. There is no record or trace of Warden. Fearing that Warden has come back to fulfill his “curse”, the town is on edge.
"De-wrinkle, Permanent Press...oh here it is....corpse roasting!"

A group of young miners and their friends decide that since the dance is cancelled they will hold their own party in the mine and in secrecy. Introduce the patented love triangle into the picture! T.J. (Paul Kelman) is the Mayor’s son. He has recently come back to Valentine Bluffs after being gone for a year. His old girlfriend Sarah (Lori Hallier) is now in a relationship  with his old friend Axel (Neil Affleck – no relation to Ben). So now there is plenty of tension and testosterone to go around while a pick axe wielding maniac is officially on the loose in the town.

Whitmans' eat your heart out......oh...
So now that we have gone through four gears on this hot rod, it’s time to shift it into fifth with a series of well played grisly murders. This is an aspect that I really like about the film. Warden not uses a pick axe to dispose of this victims but also a few well placed implements of death. One prankster gets a pick axe to the head. One female victim is impaled on a shower head in the shower room, another party goer is drowned in boiling water and has his heart cut out. His heart makes it back to the Sheriff in a candy box with a note stating “you didn’t stop the party”.

"I really want to be a dentist, mind if I take a look?"
 Meanwhile some of the remaining partiers decide to take a trip down into the mine to impress their girlfriends. More mayhen takes place as a couple is impaled with a mining drill and another gets a few well placed nails driven into his skull via a nail gun. T.J. and Axel go down into the mine to get Sarah after discovering the bodies of their friends upstairs. Upon finding Sarah and another girl Patty they try to ascend the shaft. They are out of luck because the elevator and mining cart have been disabled, leaving no choice but to climb up the access ladder. Another murder takes place during their climb as their friend Howard is thrown down the shaft with a noose around his neck decapitating him. Fearing that Warden is above them they retreat to find another way to escape. While fleeing from the miner Axel seemingly falls into a well as the others heard his scream and find his mining helmet beside the deep opening. 

When Valentines Day goes wrong....tonight on FOX!
Continuing their escape they run into Harry Warden and he dispatches Patty. T.J. struggles with Warden only to reveal that it is actually Axel. It is then explained, in a flashback, that Axel was the son of one of the supervisors that Warden killed and had witnessed his father’s murder. This caused him to eventually snap mentally and go on a rampage. During the fight however some support beams are damaged by a mislaid pick axe blow and the tunnel begins to collapse. The cave in traps Axel and apparently kills him. However as T.J. and Sarah leave they hear Axel scream. Sarah turns back to find Axels' arm in the rubble. She holds onto to but the arm pulls away from the debris because Axel has severed his own arm with a hunting knife. Through the hole they see Axel stumble away into the darkness giggling maniacally and saying “Sarah, be my Valentine!”. 

Lemme just mop the driveway here....
Thus the end of our bloody little feature. The ending really left it opened for a sequel but it never came to fruition which in my opinion is good. The movie is fine as it is and will never need another chapter. For a low budget film (filmed in Canada) , it’s very solid with some decent acting and some fine bloody effects. Sadly though several minutes of gore were trimmed upon theatrical release. One of these effects involves a pick axe to the chin with one end of the pick exiting the eye socket. Luckily in 2009 Lionsgate, who had secured the rights to the Paramount film, released it uncut with the missing footage inserted. This went hand in hand with their 3D remake which I highly recommend if you haven’t already checked it out. It’s also available on DVD/Blu Ray in 2D and 3D formats.

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