My Bloody Valentine: Special Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (7th December 2009).
The Film

When you have such a huge amount of slasher movies based on different holidays, it’s fairly easy for some movies to get lost in the clutter. Early 80’s slasher movies had a movie for pretty much every day of the week and every major holiday, all that was missing was a slasher named “4 p.m. Sunday Afternoon” to carry the naming trend to it’s obvious conclusion. “Halloween” (1980) definitely started the trend and is one of, if not the best, in the genre. Until the remake I had barely heard anything about “My Bloody Valentine” (1981), as it fills up the naming trend too easily and lacks the huge amount of sequels that you expect out of the true classics. What I missed out on is easily one of the most creative and different slasher movies to come out of the 80’s.

Rather than some privileged suburban town or any summer camp, “My Bloody Valentine” is set in the blue-collar mining town of Valentine Bluffs, getting ready for the Valentine’s Day dance. In the 1960’s the town experienced a Valentine’s Day tragedy as a group of five miners got trapped in the mines on Valentine’s Day during a methane gas explosion thanks to the incompetence of two supervisors who had left early to go to the town’s dance. The only survivor of the disaster was Harry Warden (Peter Cowper), who managed to stay alive by eating his dead coworkers. That next year Warden returned to murder the two supervisors, warning the town never to hold another Valentine’s Day dance. Twenty years later the town has dismissed Warden’s warnings as urban legend and gets ready for a new dance, only to see the return of the Miner and Valentine’s Day murders.

While it doesn’t exactly deviate from the slasher formula, the subtle changes are what make this movie so different and so entertaining. Many killer’s backstories present a cold heart of pure evil, Michael Myers is pure evil, Jason is an unstoppable killer from within the lake and Freddy is the evilest dream jokester you’ll ever see. The Miner of “My Bloody Valentine” is not supernatural at all, he’s a spirit of crazed vengeance from the lack of safety within the mining industry. It’s almost like he’s a rallying cry for stronger union standards within the industry since it was the ignorance of safety standards that made him resort to cannibalism and go insane. And he doesn’t exactly kill senselessly or just go after the sexy teens either (though the opening tries to say otherwise), in Warden’s original turn as killer he just wanted the Valentine’s Day dance that had lead to such a terrible disaster. Sure it’s a little extreme, but you think the town would show some respect by changing their dance standards.

His rage though is one of the more creative examples of killing in the 80’s slasher genre. Not only that, but in the "Extended Cut," they’re really visual and a great display of effects work. Sure you get your pickaxeing, but watching someone get pushed onto a pickaxe slowly, getting a pickaxe through the chin and out the eye as well as getting pickaxed and put into a dryer? That’s some serious effects creativity and it’s pulled off well for the time.

Even the acting is slightly better than I would have expected, even though all their Canadian accents strike me as a little funny, it’s not awesomely bad acting. It’s pretty entertaining. The script only has one big jokester in town and he isn’t funny at all, but otherwise the movie is really well put together around the story of the Valentine’s Day killing and the Miner. What’s genuinely suprising is that the Miner doesn’t attack kids having sex or just because they’re drinking, its’ that they had a valentine’s day party on the very mine of the killings.

Going back to revisit this early slasher was a real treat, especially after seeing the way it was remade in 2009. There’s not anything really wrong with the remake, it’s an awesomely bad fun time in 3D so how can I complain? But it’s just shockingly different from the original, there’s no ridiculously predictable twist. This twist kinda comes out of nowhere, and the way the killer escapes at the end makes the entire ride even better. The kills are original and though it may lack the more gratuitous nudity of its peers it makes up for the typical moments with an atypical presentation that sets it apart.

Video

As the second of the recent set of lionsgate Blu-ray remasterings, I’m still very impressed by their quality of work, the 1.78:1 1080p 24/fps transfer with AVC MPEG-4 encoding at about 30 Mbps looks incredible considering the relative obscurity of the film and the time since it was filmed. The colors of the mining town come through well, with of course all the blood reds set against the grey and gloomy coalmining town itself. Still the black levels, contrast and everything about the film look great in high-definition with no sign of upconversion problems or any loss of clarity. This is easily the best the film has ever looked and may even be the best could look. The only real problem comes in with the extended scenes, the quality experiences a steep dropoff and works as a huge tipoff of a scene that wasn’t preserved with the "Theatrical Cut." Colors muddy up and the contrast falls apart, but it’s still clear enough that you can see the sweet gore sequences.

Audio

Presented primarily with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (48kHz/24-bit/2.1 Mbps), the sound remastering comes through crisply and cleanly as you would expect. Ambient noises move around as they sould and the audio comes through really nicely, but it still feels a little out of sorts considering it was intended to be a 2.0 mono audio track. Thankfully an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (48kHz/224 kbps) track is also included, giving you the original feel of the sound. I don’t quite mind when they upgrade the sound, but I’m more of a person to hear it as it was originally intended just cleaned up a bit. Both ways you get a clear sound that has the breathing, pickaxe swinging come through nicely, it’s just a matter of whether or not you have the need for master audio HD.
Also included are English, English for the hearing impaired and Spanish Subtitles.

Extras

There’s a good amount of extras on the disc, but lacking an audio commentary, I could use a little more. Still the featurettes, deleted scenes, an interactive history, theatrical trailer and a bonus trailer are good additions.

First off the disc contains two versions of the film. The "Theatrical Cut" runs for 1 hour 30 minutes and 25 seconds while the "Extended Cut" runs for 1 hour and 33 minutes.

“My Bloody Valentine” runs for 20 minutes and 36 seconds. Using footage of old slasher movies and “My Bloody Valentine” this featurette effectively works as a making of for the film, as well as doing some good coverage of the genre past and future. There are still good interviews with actors from the original film, the original producers and directors, but around the 12 minute mark it diverges into the new movie, which would be nice if it were part of a double pack, but I would have liked to hear more about the original.

Next are the deleted scenes, 10 in all, which are playable with director, cast and crew introductions, though are all unfortunately in standard definition. These run more like extended scenes including the remastered version of the regular scenes with the deleted parts cut back in. If anything these show off how good the movie looks in Blu-ray compared with DVD. The titles are fairly self explanatory, but the introductions are worth watching, their runtimes are in parenthesis:

- “Opening Scequence” runs for 5 minutes and 32 seconds with introduction by director George Mihalka that runs for 2 minutes and 35 seconds, he discusses the idea behind the film and the opening scene.
- “Mabel in the Dryer” runs for 2 minutes and 40 seconds, this introduction that runs for 36 seconds and features the effects designers Thomas R. Burman and Ken Diaz talking about how they rigged together the Mabel mannequin in the dryer.
- “Happy’s Surprise” runs for 2 minutes and 13 seconds, introduction that runs 55 seconds with author Adam Rockoff and effects designers Thomas R. Burman and Ken Diaz, looking at the eye pop out sequence with happy.
- “Dave Gets Dunked” runs for 1 minute and 15 seconds, introduction that runs for 34 seconds with the actor who played dave, Carl Marotte, discusses getting his face dipped into boiling hotdogs.
- “Sylvia in the Showers” runs for 4 minutes and 42 seconds, introduction runs for 1 minute 22 seconds with actress Helene Udy along with the director George Mihalka, the effects designers Thomas R. Burman and Ken Diaz and author Adam Rockoff discuss the shower impaling sequence.
- “Nail Gun” runs for 2 minutes and 27 seconds, introduction runs for 48 seconds with director George Mihalka, who talks about the special effects while designer Ken Diaz talks about the development process.
- “Beheading” runs for 3 minutes and 40 seconds, introduction runs for 1 minute 10 seconds with designers Thomas R. Burman and Ken Diaz talk about designing the beheading sequence.
- “Pick Axe to the Torso” runs for 1 minute and 39 seconds, introduction runs for 35 seconds with the director George Mihalka who talks about the shock of the scene and the enjoyment out of making the audience jump.
- “Axel’s Flashback” runs for 2 minutes and 12 seconds, introduction runs for 47 seconds with effects designer Ken Diaz who talks about the blood recipies they used for the scene and his new company for making fake blood.
- “End Sequence” runs for 2 minutes and 28 seconds, introduction runs for 1 minute 2 seconds with actor Neil Affleck talks about discovering who the killer was by the end of the shoot and having the ending spoiled for him through prosthetics.

“Bloodlines: An Interactive Horror Film History” is a series of text-based features, they are menus dedicated to text explanations of all the different genres of horror movies. There are some interesting points brought up about movies, and are reasonably well written, but I would rather have seen these put together into a video produced segment that could bring together clips, or actually make connections between the different genres within the text as all these genres are connected. The described genres are:

- “New Wave Slashers”
- “Torture Porn”
- “The Rape-Revenge Film”
- “The Psychological Thrillers”
- “Mini-Hitchcocks”
- “Slasher Parodies”
- “Postmodern Slashers”
- “Sequels Galore”
- “Classic Slashers”
- “Backwoods Bloodletting”
- “The Godfather of Gore”
- “Psycho”
- “Slasher Remakes”
- “Rubber Reality”
- “Slasher Godfathers”
- “Gialli”

The theatrical trailer runs for 2 minutes and 10 seconds.

There’s also a bonus trailer for “Also on Lionsgate” which runs for 1 minute and 6 seconds.

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: A- Audio: B+ Extras: B- Overall: B+

 


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