My Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine is available on Amazon Prime

My Bloody Valentine (1981)

“There’s a big Valentine’s day party planned in the little mining town of Valentine’s Bluff. It is the first Valentine‘s party in 20 years, because then there was an accident in the mine, and the accident happened because the men responsible for the security were at the party. The sole surviving miner killed them, and told the town NEVER to arrange a valentine party again. The party begins, and so does the killing.”

“From the heart comes a warning, filled with bloody good cheer, remember what happened as the 14th draws near.”

“We’ll have a party in the mine! “

Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom and Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (both 1960) were the progenitors of the slasher movie. Strangely Peeping Tom was reviled and ruined Powell’s career while Psycho was quite popular and a departure from Hitchcock’s standard. There were other proto-slashers that followed in the wake but it was not until John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) that the slasher became popular.

Sadly directors did not understand what Carpenter had created and only took away from it, ‘masked maniac kills teenagers’. Friday the 13th (1980) took that formula and added scenes from Italian giallo films, courtesy of budding makeup artist Tom Savini.

By the time 1981 rolled around the slasher genre was in full swing. Tom Savini turned down Friday the 13th part 2 because he was busy working on The Burning. George Mihalka was supposed to direct a slasher called “The Secret” but naturally the title was changed to cover one of the holidays.

Unfortunately the MPAA, perhaps due to the rising popularity of slashers and/or backlash from the death of John Lennon (yes I know he was shot and not stabbed but still), had stiffened their guidelines. My Bloody Valentine had to cut part of each of the kill scenes just to get an ‘R’ rating. Mihalka claimed that 8-9 minutes overall had to be trimmed (though the restored version only adds about three minutes – I’m not sure how that math works). The Amazon version certainly brings the gore.

My Bloody Valentine is a prime example of the slasher genre. It is a simple formula – gather a group of people in an isolated location and kill them off one by one, preferably in a gruesome manner with sharp implements. One thing that sets Valentine apart is that instead of teens, we have working stiffs (admittedly most of them are young) in a mine.

The cast does just fine, not as bad as in some slashers but no standouts either. Paul Kelman plays T.J. Hanniger. Lori Hallier is Sarah, our love interest without a last name. Neil Affleck, who plays Axel Palmer, has gone on to some success behind-the-scenes with a little show called The Simpsons.

A large part of the success of My Bloody Valentine is the setting. The real life mines make a great chase location and the equipment not only provides our requisite mask for the killer but also supplies handy pickaxes. Another reason for the success is probably the volume, frequency and tone of the killings. This was a pretty brutal film back then, even with the MPAA mandated cuts.

Remake-itis: My Bloody Valentine was remade as My Bloody Valentine 3D in 2009. It starred Jensen Ackles from Supernatural which is funny because his Supernatural co-star Jared Padalecki starred in the Friday the 13th reboot. Valentine 3D was good cheesy fun with lots of gore and nudity. specifically designed to take advantage of the 3D.

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