October Horrorshow: My Bloody Valentine

The town of Valentine Bluffs, Nova Scotia, has a problem. Despite being deep in the heart of Canada, only two people in the entire town seem to have wicked accents. Apparently, the native population has been replaced by a bunch of pod people from the Toronto area, or even possibly the States. The local sheriff is doing nothing. They may have already gotten to him!

Seriously, though, evil things are afoot in Valentine Bluffs, the small mining town that is the setting for My Bloody Valentine, a classic slasher shitfest from 1981.

It’s getting near Valentine’s Day, a holiday that is understandably of some significance in a town with such a moniker. But, the town’s relationship with the day of romance was soured twenty years earlier, when negligence at the local coal mine led to the deaths of a group of miners in a tunnel collapse on Valentine’s Day. There was one survivor, dug out of the mine after six weeks in the dark. His name was Harry Warden, and he survived such a long stay trapped in the mine by eating the flesh of his fallen comrades. The experience drove him insane, and he was committed to an insane asylum. But a year later, on the anniversary of the accident, he returned and brutally murdered the men responsible. Afterwards he laid a curse on the town, warning them that if they ever celebrated Valentine’s Day again, he would return to kill once more.

Now that it’s twenty years on, the wounds have healed and the memories have faded. The town decides to hold a Valentine’s Day dance, against the better judgment of a crotchety old bartender who gets his rocks off on telling the tale of Harry Warden over and over again to all the town’s youths. And who should return, as promised? Harry Warden.

Wow. That is some creative stuff for a slasher flick.

Directed by George Mihalka, My Bloody Valentine is an early generation entry into the slasher genre, and it has all the hallmarks one would expect. The budget was miniscule, and the cast was largely without skill. But, boy, does this film have life to it. Sure, for the first half, a viewer has to put up with clich├ęs reminiscent of 1950s teen flicks, but when the action moves towards the climax, My Bloody Valentine shines. The will was there, truly. It’s only the execution that keeps this movie mired in the shit.

What happened to fun slasher flicks, anyways? Did the genre really get tired out? Did filmmakers run out of tricks? Or was it run into the ground by a slew of carelessly made sequels that were shameless cash grabs? Probably a combination of all three, but I think most of the blame goes to turning the most popular movies into brands, extending their lives well after putrefaction set in. Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street...all these franchises overstayed their welcome, and did more to take down the genre than any of the foibles in the early films themselves. (A quick note. In keeping with tradition, the last film I’m reviewing this month will be a Halloween flick. Number five, in fact. I am NOT looking forward to watching that piece of shit. I’m dreading it as much as Donald Pleasence probably dreaded being in the damn thing.)

My Bloody Valentine looks cheap, in fact is cheap, and exploitative, and derivative, and did I mention cheap? But I got a hell of a kick out of this shitty movie. Don’t watch this movie with a quality cinematic experience in mind. Please, go elsewhere. But if you’re curious about what happens to a pretty little blonde when she’s turned into a working showerhead, or what happens when someone is stuffed in a dryer overnight, then by all means, check out My Bloody Valentine. Stay away from the remake, though.

On the surface, My Bloody Valentine is not as well made as Alien: Resurrection, but it wins out on style and genre points.