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My Bloody Valentine Review (1981)

My History With the Film:
I first watched My Bloody Valentine in May of 2018 (and have patiently held this review in draft status for the past nine months!). I’d seen the remake previously, but never the original. I was set on watching the extended cut, but it’s been out of print for years and copies online go for well over $25. One day while browsing in FYE, I saw a copy sitting on an end cap used for $3.99. They had marked it as a copy of the 2009 re-make, because the first date you see on the back of the case is 2009. I was thrilled at my luck and I took home my prize where it sat for six months before I finally got around to watching it.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A small mining town is tormented leading up to a Valentine’s Day dance by a miner who was once left abandoned after a tunnel collapse.

What I Liked About It:
-The town of Valentine Buff’s felt like a real place. The town seemed like a place you could actually visit instead of someone’s interpretation of what a small town is like. This made a huge difference in caring for the characters and believing the tale of the miner.

-The Miner has an incredible look. He’s menacing and is truly something of nightmares. I especially love the look of the light that blinds the victims or at least skews their eye sight from what’s coming.

-I watched the Extended Cut with all the gore added back in and man what an impressive film this is. I thought the effects were amazing, especially the laundry mat scene.

-The mine scenes have a very creepy ambiance to them and you can tell it’s a real mine.

-The cast was great. A lot of them played the dumb teenager/young adult role, but they didn’t feel cliché like so many other slasher films from the time period. I think making all the males miners really helped in breaking that feeling of having “the smart guy”, “the dumb guy”, and “the horny guy.”

-One of the scenes I most appreciated came towards the end of the film when Sarah (Lori Hallier) is running around trying to keep Patty (Cynthia Dale) alive. Patty is distraught at the situation and keeps trying to quit on life and complaining. It gets annoying and Sarah lets her have it over and over again, telling her to shut up and dragging her around. It’s refreshing to see a horror film where the whiner isn’t immediately killed or we are forced to listen to them for a long period of time. I caught myself thinking, “Shut up” and at that exact moment Sarah goes, “Shut up!” I loved that.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-The opening scene contains an almost Three Stooges style joke where all the miners are running for their cars and it was not a good way to begin a horror film. I groaned at how cheesy it was and assumed I’d probably be turning the film off in the next twenty minutes. Luckily, that was a one-off scene and the rest of the film doesn’t contain that type of humor.

-I don’t factor this into my review, but most of the “extended cut” scenes have no been restored and are in horrible, scratched shape. Watching them placed back into the movie is jarring and its a shame that no one has cleaned up these scenes and made it match the rest of the movie which had a very nice restoration. The effects were amazing for its time and I feel like had they remained in 1981, My Bloody Valentine would had been better received and made a “must watch” by all horror fans.

Additional Notes:
-The DVD contains a twenty minute documentary that does a great job of summarizing the creation and release of the film, along with some quick publicity stuff for the remake. During this documentary I learned that the cast was brought into this small mining town a week earlier in order to observe how small town life existed and to give them time to assimilate into the culture. It works wonders because it’s one of the most realistic settings I’ve experienced in a horror film.

-The movie was shot in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia because the mine had just shut down and still had all sorts of rustic charm. Unfortunately, once the townspeople heard about the film, they spent $50,000 to clean up and paint the mine, thus ruining the location for the film. $75,000 was spent of the film’s budget to restore the mine back to it’s dirty and rundown condition.

-The movie was actually shot inside the mine and could only be lit by 25 watt light bulbs which gave the film it’s distinct and creepy look.

-The film was created solely to be sold as a holiday horror film. The producers picked Valentine’s Day and then gave the direction, George Mihalka, around five months to write a script and film the movie.

-In 2001, George Mihalka approached Paramount about making a sequel, but due to poor box office receipts from the first film, they declined.

-Nine minutes of the film were cut to satisfy the MPAA which was coming down hard on Paramount following Friday the 13th’s success. All but one of the gore scenes were found and restored for the extended cut. The one scene not included was an impalement scene that had deteriorated too much. Six additional minutes were lost, but they included no gore or special effects, just character development.

My Bloody Valentine surprised me. It was really good. Sometimes when watching the early 80’s slashers I feel like I don’t appreciate them as much as others because I didn’t grow up with them. But My Bloody Valentine holds up a lot better than many of the others and its a shame it hadn’t ever been given the proper recognition and appreciation that it deserves. I doubt we’ll ever see a better cut than what was released on the extended release DVD and Blu-Ray in 2009, so if you are wanting to see this film make sure you dig up a copy. The footage looks terrible when added back in, but it provides so much better gore and backstory to the killer.

I’d rate My Bloody Valentine a four out of five, and say it’s worth a rental.

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