Wednesday, November 2, 2011

#443. My Bloody Valentine (1981)

Directed By: George Mihalka

Starring: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck

Tag line: "Cross your heart...and hope to die"

Trivia:  According to makeup effects artist Thomas R. Burman one of his gory creations was realistic enough that director George Mihalka threw up at the sight of it

I've never actually complied a list of my favorite 80's slasher films, but if I ever do, 1981's My Bloody Valentine will be right up there at the top!

Unable to make a go of it on the West Coast, TJ (Paul Kelman) returns home to the small mining community of Valentine Bluffs. He's none too happy that he has to once again work in the mines, but TJ has an even harder time dealing with the fact his old girlfriend Sarah (Lori Hallier) is now dating his best friend, Axel (Neil Affleck). 

With Valentine's Day approaching, however, lost love and romantic rivalry are the least of everyone's worries. 

The trouble started twenty years ago, when a Feb. 14th accident killed five miners and trapped one - a man named Harry Warden - below ground for several days (to survive the ordeal, Harry was forced to eat the remains of his co-workers). Left mentally deranged by the incident, Warden escaped from a state institution exactly one year later and murdered several of his former supervisors. 

What's more, he vowed to return each and every Valentines Day unless the town's annual dance was permanently canceled. 

After 20 years, both the sheriff (Don Francks) and Mayor (Larry Reynolds) feel enough time has passed to once again hold their community's beloved Valentines dance. But are they tempting fate by doing so?

As Michael Myers was patrolling the streets of suburbia in Halloween, and Friday the 13th's Jason Voorhees set up camp in the picturesque woods of upstate New York, the killer in My Bloody Valentine was bringing chaos and carnage to a working class district, a place where life was already far from easy. 

Instead of horny teens, My Bloody Valentine gives us hard-working guys who risk their lives in the mines day in and day out, and while we realize holding the Valentine's Dance, in spite of the obvious dangers, might be the wrong thing to do, we know why the town was doing it. 

For the men and women of Valentine Bluffs, this party meant more than an opportunity to get drunk and act crazy; it was an escape from the humdrum of their everyday lives. My Bloody Valentine featured (for the most part, anyway) a cast of relative unknowns, yet all of them do a fine job capturing their character's general malaise, as well as the desire to break free of it. We may not agree with their decision to party, but we sure as hell understand it!

I liked the characters in My Bloody Valentine, yet I was also blown away by the shocking nature of the film's gorier sequences. One of the first victims, an older lady named Mabel (Patricia Hamilton) - whose only crime was helping out with the decorations - is murdered in the town's laundromat. Her heart is torn from her chest, and her body stuffed into a clothes dryer, which is then switched on. As you can imagine, by the time poor Mabel was found, she was in a terrible state. And compared to what happens to a few later victims, I'd say 'ole Mabel got off easy!

With gruesome kills carried out in a working-class setting, My Bloody Valentine is a "cut" above the rest (pun intended..and my apologies).


Page said...

A nice review of a film I saw as a teen. Well, I couldn't get through the entire film. Not a fan of scary films. I blame my parents for taking us to the drive-in to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Hills Have Eyes. (the originals)


DVD Infatuation said...

Page: Sorry you couldn't get through's a slasher classic (but then, I guess I can understand, especially if you were traumatized by Texas Chainsaw Massacre! That would be a TIUGH movie to watch as a young kid).

Thanks for the comment, and the kind words.