My Bloody Valentine (2009)

The late 2000s saw a number of classic horror films being remade.  Although a lot of attention was on the biggies - Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween - the rush to make some extra money on existing properties didn't end there.  There were remakes of everything from the relatively obscure 1940s horror film Ghost Ship to some of the also-ran slasher films, such as My Bloody Valentine 

Released in 1981, the original film was a Canadian entry into the holiday slasher genre and told the story of a survivor of a mine cave-in that goes on a killing spree.  With the killer supposedly dead, the killings pick up a number of years later when the mine owner's son returns to town.  It's largely memorable for the mining outfit, complete with pickaxe and gas mask, with the killer making for a  striking image.  Unfortunately, it was the movie itself that was butchered.  While it had a pretty typical plot - prodigal son returns and is blamed for killings in a small town - it also had a number of inventive kills.  Unfortunately most of it was left on the cutting room floor in order to get an R rating in the U.S.

Part of the goal of Patrick Lussier's 2009 remake seems to be to atone for what happened to the original.  I am sure that a fair amount was cut to make it to an R rating, but I am quite surprised that with Betsy Rue's extended full-frontal nude scene and the actual amount of violence that made it to the theaters.  On top of that, all this mayhem was originally in 3D, courtesy of being the first horror film to take advantage of the Real3D format.  I guess if one is going do a remake and try to get it as nasty as can be that they might as well pull out all the b-movie gimmicks. 

In the mining town of Harmony a number of miners are trapped in a cave-in on Valentine's Day when the owner's son, Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles), forgets to bleed the lines.  The only survivor is Harry Warden (Richard John Walters), who it is soon discovered lived through the ordeal by murdering the other miners with his pickaxe to conserve oxygen.  After a year in a coma he wakes up, murders the staff at the local hospital and then goes after a bunch of teenagers having a party at the closed mining tunnel where the incident happened.  The only survivors are Tom, his friend Axel (Kerr Smith) and their girlfriends Sarah (Jaime King) and Irene (Rue).  

10 years later Tom returns after the death of his father with the intention of selling the mine, much to the community's disgust.  Axel, now the sheriff, is not happy to have him back due to the fact that he married Sarah after Tom left and believes his wife still carries a torch for her ex-beau.  Also, the killings begin again, something that former sheriff Burke (Tom Atkins) and the elder Hanniger's business associate Ben (Kevin Tighe) believe impossible since they tracked Warden down and killed him themselves.  Axel begins to be suspicious of Tom as the murders increase while Sarah starts to have her own doubts about Axel. 

I honestly didn't remember Jensen Ackles was in this.  It is probably because, at the time I saw this, which was not too long after it showed up on cable, I had no idea who he was.  I was one of the late-comers to Supernatural, finally getting curious about it while it was in its 12th season or so (although I started at the beginning) and finding out it wasn't just something for teenage girls.  That probably explains while Ackles, although he is first-billed, isn't in the movie nearly as much as Jaime King or Kerr Smith.  This was made at about the time that Supernatural was truly hitting its stride, which is most likely the reason for his casting, but I'm sure it also played havoc with the schedule.  After all, Supernatural ran on the classic television schedule of about 23 episodes a year. 

It doesn't matter too much because no one here is given anything to do other that look troubled, look angry or look scared.  My Bloody Valentine was made for one reason only and that was to give the audience a truly modern exploitation film without being self-referential or act like it was clever.  Once it gets going it's largely one set-piece after another, which honestly can get a little tedious, but Lussier also doesn't drag this out forever.  The main complaint is that the CGI effects were cheap when it came out and they look worse today, especially since they were mixed with some well-done practical effects that, except for a few bodies looking like mutilated CPR dummies, largely looks good.

On the gore side it was probably the cheapness and the unrealistic tone that got much of it past the censors.  On the nudity side there is only one major scene, but it is quite memorable, and probably survived largely intact as Betsy Rue was the one who came up with many of the crazier ideas for it.  Still, despite everything that Lussier and his writers (including Todd Farmer, who has a cameo as a trucker) got away with this version of My Bloody Valentine still feels quite robotic.  There is no emotional investment in any of the characters or the story which, although this was made purely to be a splatter film, would have in some ways added that a needed amount of grit that the last third of the movie is missing.  

Despite that it is one of the few remakes from that period worth watching, as most didn't even put in this much effort.  Even better is to give the original another try as, from what I understand, there has been at least some attempt to add in surviving footage that was cut.  

My Bloody Valentine (2009)
Time: 101 minutes
Starring: Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, Kerr Smith, Betsy Rue, Tom Atkins, Kevin Tighe
Director: Patrick Lussier



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