My Bloody Valentine (1981)



T. J. Hanniger (Paul Kelman) is son of the mayor of Valentine Bluffs, a coal mining town in Nova Scotia. His family also happens to be the ones who own the mine. Despite all this, T. J. left the town and his high school sweetheart Sarah (Lori Hallier) to make his fortune on his own. Failing to do so, he has returned, finding himself working in the mine alongside his former schoolmates and trying to patch things up with Sarah, although she has moved on to Axel (Neil Affleck).

Complicating things is that a 20-year-old incident seems to be coming back to haunt the community once again. The men who were supposed to be supervising the mine left early to participate in the town's annual Valentine's Day party, leaving their posts unattended when an explosion trapped a number of miners. The only survivor, Harry Warden, was found eating the bodies of his comrades when he was rescued, and a year later escaped custody and murdered the supervisors, threatening more killings if the town ever had another Valentine's Day party. Warden was at that point committed to a mental institution. However, as plans for the first Valentines dance in 20 years work their way to fruition, the murders begin again. Apparently Warden may have escaped and come back for more revenge.

After a couple people directly responsible for the dance are murdered, the police chief and mayor decide to cancel the party. However, a number of the young miners have a different plan, and decide to have their own party in the recreation center near the mine. Drunk and in the mood for adventure, a number of them decide to take some of the women for a tour of the mine. However, Warden seems to have other ideas, murdering several people at the party before entering the mine to pick everyone else off.

My Bloody Valentine suffered a bit of an injustice when it was released. It was obviously made to cash in on Halloween and Friday the 13th, but didn't really follow a strict "have sex and die" routine (although this does happen in two scenes). The film was a bit more complex, and meant to be quite a bit bloodier. Unfortunately, it turns out that the version I saw happens to be the theatrical release, so I do look forward to seeing it on Blu-Ray so I can see the full scenes as they were meant to be.

As for these scenes, they are quite creative. We have a hook through the neck, a head impaled on a running shower head, murder by drill press and a body popping out of a laundromat dryer, among others. Unfortunately, much of it was cut by the MPAA to avoid an X-rating - despite the fact that there had been much nastier material in horror films the decade leading up to this movie. Bucking the trend, even the recent R-rated remake had more violence and nudity that the original. By the way, the endings of the two are different, so there is a reason to watch both (and, yes, the remake of this film is one of the few such worth watching).

For my money, I find Harry Warden, in his mining outfit and gas mask, to be a much more striking image than Jason Voorhees or Michael Meyers (and this was made a few years prior to Jason getting his hockey mask). The acting is about on par with other independent horror films of the time, but that's never really made much difference. This is one '80s slasher flick that deserves a proper restoration with all of its scenes intact.

My Bloody Valentine (1981)

Duration: 91 minutes

Starring: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck

Director: George Mihalka

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