After many years and tears, slasher movie aficionados can finally rejoice. The Canadian classic, MY BLOODY VALENTINE has finally been released fully uncut as was originally intended many years ago by its creators. There are some slasher movies that you enjoy because they are genuinely frightening (BLACK CHRISTMAS, HALLOWEEN) and then there are others that you enjoy based on its interesting premise, killer, or death scenes. Though MY BLOODY VALENTINE generally falls into the second category, the new Extended Cut strengthens the film considerably, and as far as I’m concerned, is the ONLY cut of the film to watch now.
Twenty years ago, five miners died in an un-supervised accident below the Earth’s surface. The sole survivor, a man by the name of Harry Warden, was taken to a mental hospital for recovery. On the first anniversary of the event (while decked out in his mining gear) Harry Warden escaped and went to claim revenge on the supervisors who chose to attend the Valentine’s Day dance instead of watching their posts in the mine. Nineteen years later, the Valentine’s Day dance is making a return to the sleepy town of Valentine Bluff. Someone dressed in mining garb is sending bloody human hearts to the police and making threats about stopping the dance. Is Harry back in town, or is someone taking a local legend a little too far?
Having seen many more slasher movies since my initial review, I can now say that MY BLOODY VALENTINE is definitely among the best of the early 1980s slasher efforts. For me, it ranks right up there with MADMAN and THE BURNING, but being honest with myself, it is much better paced than either of those films. The Canadian cast is a great troupe of realistic blue collar types who you’d want to hang out with, take home to meet your mom, or even have a beer with. Thus, when they are finally offed one-by-one, you genuinely feel for them. One interesting thing of note is that the film’s token fat guy character (played with charm by the late Keith Knight) is dating the absolute most gorgeous lady in the film. Nobody in the film even makes a big deal out of it either. It’s just the way it is. You accept it. This was a welcome bit of casting that you don’t always see in movies, as most pair supermodel-ish bimbos with football team captain types. The film has a lush use of color and is generally well-photographed. The mine location is used to great effect for isolation and ups the creepy factor substantially. I also liked the killer’s gimmick: wearing an eerie miner’s mask, helmet, and clothes while killing people with, among other things, a pick-axe. Very unique indeed.
The main flaw with the film was that at one time, it was very, very badly edited. Not anymore! Having endured one of the most savage of the MPAA hack jobs at the bequest of snooty critics who didn’t even like horror movies to begin with, MY BLOODY VALENTINE’s uncut form was almost considered a lost film until the excised footage was finally recovered by one of its producers. Much to my surprise, added footage isn’t just blood and gore. The footage is all death scene related, but not entirely of the “money shot” variety. What I mean is that the deaths themselves are all extended. These victims don’t just get quick stabs or impalements followed by a quiet closing of their eyes as they die. No. Now, the victims of The Miner twitch after the back of their head has been impaled on a shower pipe, their badly scalded lifeless body flails creepily when its discovered in a Laundromat dryer, and in what I think is one of the most brutal additions, a nail is put through one character’s temple who then staggers dazed and just sort of stands there unable to move or fight back as The Miner coldly and methodically reloads his nail gun for another shot. These victims die horrible, horrible deaths, adding a mean and somewhat intense streak to the film. If you once watched MY BLOODY VALENTINE and thought how tame of a film it was, prepare to watch a completely different movie now. Seriously! The added footage makes it that much stronger of a horror film. I can’t even imagine watching the old cut now, except to laugh at it. The newly added footage looks a bit rough transfer-wise, but is much better than similarly added uncut footage in releases like Anchor Bay’s SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT. It’s certainly more than watchable. By most accounts, this version of the movie was lost and should not exist, so the fact that we can finally experience it is truly remarkable.
The MY BLOODY VALENTINE SPECIAL EDITION is presented anamorphic, in its original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio. I’m not sure if the existing Paramount transfer from the previous release was used again (most likely) or if a new transfer was created, but it certainly doesn’t look any worse than it did a few years back. It’s a truly gorgeous DVD transfer and among the very best of any 1980s slasher movie I can think of. The scenes look crystal clear and the colors (especially reds and blues) look extremely vibrant. The audio for the MY BLOODY VALENTINE SPECIAL EDITION is the original mono track and a 5.1 Dolby Digital track. I started listening to the 5.1 track, but decided it was kind of pointless, as the film was originally shot for mono and thus, that is the correct way to experience it. There’s not a lot you can say about how effective a slasher movie is in English mono, but MY BLOODY VALENTINE sounds pretty decent. The jump scares are all greatly effective. Odd, with the film being Canadian, that no French track or subtitles were included on this release, as in the previous one. Instead we get Spanish subtitles and English for the hearing impaired.
On the extras front, we don’t get a jam-packed release, but certainly enough to warrant a double dip purchase. As if the uncut footage alone weren’t reason enough to snatch up this disc, Lionsgate has given us a few featurettes to enjoy. First up, we have “Bloodlust: My Bloody Valentine and the Rise of the Slasher Film”. This featurette is pretty much a brief history of the subgenre interspersed with interview bits about the making of MY BLOODY VALENTINE. I wish the featurette had been solely about the making of the film, as the bits we have here, while interesting, don’t completely cover the film adequately. The stuff about the slasher subgenre in general could’ve been trimmed completely, as despite the presence of author Adam Rockoff, not much new ground is broken here. Plus, toward the end, a considerable chunk of attention is given to the new Lionsgate 3-D remake. Of course, this remake has made this entire Extended Cut re-release possible, so I won’t hold that against them. Oh, and once the credits come up after this featurette, don’t hit “next” on your remote. For there is a brief post-credits interview with composer Paul Zaza regarding the legendary end credits song from the film. Any MY BLOODY VALENTINE fanboy will definitely want to check that out.
Next we have ”Bloodlines: An Interactive Horror Film History”. An essay with a few pictures from key movies, this basically, would be a throw-away feature if it weren’t so well written. I don’t recall seeing an author listed, but whoever wrote it out, seems to fully grasp the slasher subgenre. I always get tired of people using “slasher” as just a generic term for any horror movie. No, THE EXORCIST is not a slasher movie. The author even goes into why NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET really isn’t a slasher movie in the traditional sense. A worthwhile read, for sure. I list the deleted scenes last because really, if you just watch the extended cut of the film from this point on, you would really never need to watch the deleted scenes alone EXCEPT…if you watch them again in the bonus features section, there are introductions to each clip by the crew and actors! Also included on the disc are trailers for Lionsgate releases SAW V, A HAUNTING IN CONNETICUT, and REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA. Things I think the release could’ve used would include a commentary by George Mihalka. He seems so energetic, informative, and passionate about the film that I would’ve loved to have heard a running feature-length commentary with the film. Perhaps one pairing him with one of the actors or actresses would’ve been in order. Also, a photo gallery would’ve been a welcome addition to the disc, as the film has had a variety of interesting artwork associated with its releases, both good and bad. But really, the strength of this release is that we finally have the film in an uncut version. Anything else is definitely icing on the cake, and what Lionsgate has provided for us is more than sweet to the taste.
I can’t recommend this disc highly enough. Definitely, the horror release of the year (hell, maybe even the decade!) and I dare other studios with unreleased gems to try and take the title. For years, fans of MY BLOODY VALENTINE have sort of had to defend it to other horror fans. “Well, yeah, I know it’s not really gory but it’s good! It really is!” Now, with the Extended Cut finally existing, the film can finally speak for itself. I urge all horror fans, whether you’ve seen the film or not, to give this disc a spin. Maybe you too will finally be won over by its charms and consider it more seriously in company with films like THE BURNING and FRIDAY THE 13TH. It happened once (barebones, R-rated release), it happened twice (barebones, R-rated release paired with APRIL FOOL’S DAY), the dance is on, my friends… because it didn’t happen thrice! (Wes Ray)
If you enjoyed MY BLOODY VALENTINE and want to see more of the gore, there are plenty of free films to watch online at the LOVEFiLM website.
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