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  • TBC
  • 2009
  • 101 mins

My Bloody Valentine 3-D

My Bloody Valentine 3-D

Synopsis

A gory remake of the 1981 slasher, heralding the next stage in the 3D revolution. Wes Craven's favourite editor Patrick Lussier directs

About

"Did you ever worry that these wicked events might repeat themselves?"

When a TV reporter poses this question about the mining accident and subsequent Valentine's Day murder spree that afflicted the town of Harmony a decade ago, she may as well be talking about the status of Patrick Lussier's My Bloody Valentine 3-D as a remake.

George Mihalka's 1981 original might easily have been dismissed as just another 'calendar' slasher riding on the success of Halloween (1978) and Friday The 13th (1980), but its Canadian origins, its unconventional casting of adult characters (rather than teens), its use of atmospheric mine sets (and an iconic 'miner' killer), and its downbeat blue-collar milieu (screenwriter John Beaird has described it as "the Deer Hunter of horror films"), have all helped the film win a special place in the hearts of genre connoisseurs. No less than Quentin Tarantino has called it "the best slasher movie of all time."

Now, in this decade of horror remakes, the low-budget original has inevitably come back to repeat itself - buffed, retuned and brought right up to date, in a full 3D reimagining. Digital 3D may have been proclaimed the future of film by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner and his ilk in their keenness to get us away from our television sets and computer screens and back into cinemas, but for all the advances in the stereographic technology, this in-your-face format will always be little more than a gimmick, best reserved for horror, porn and children's cartoons.

Fortunately, My Bloody Valentine 3-D falls into at least two of these categories, with its comin'-at-ya gore and wildly gratuitous tits-and-ass. An eye-grabbing exercise in empty thrills, it is the film for which 3D was seemingly invented - and the effect has never looked better in a live-action movie.

Abstract away from the film's moodily rich depth of field, and what remains is essentially a copycat, but that is not to say that the imitation is slavish. On the contrary, while My Bloody Valentine 3-D remains true to the spirit of the original, it is gleefully false to the letter. The setting has moved from Nova Scotia over the border to Montana (although the director is still a Canadian), the action unfolds ten (rather than 20) years after the mining accident that is its 'primal scene', the gore level is very high in contrast to the relative tameness of the film released in 1981 (shorn at the time of a full nine minutes of footage by the MPAA), and there are enough new twists and turns here to keep even the original's most diehard fans on their toes. This is exactly how a remake should be.

A decade ago, one Valentine's Day, six miners were trapped underground in an accident caused by the inexperience of young Tom Hanniger (Jense Ackles), son of the mine's owner. A year later, sole survivor Harry Warden (Rich Walters) awakens from his coma, dons his miner's costume, and executes his crazed revenge with a pickaxe, killing 22 townsfolk before disappearing, gravely injured, into the depths of the mines. Tom escapes alive but, riddled with guilt and shame, skips town, leaving his girlfriend Sarah (Jaime King) and his best friend Axel (Kerr Smith) behind to "pick up the pieces".

Nine years later, Tom comes back to Harmony to sell his late father's mine and to catch up with Sarah. Too bad that she has married Axel, now the town's young police chief, and too bad that Axel is two-timing her with the much younger Megan (Megan Boone) - but there are bigger problems outside this erotic tangle, as once again a figure dressed in a miner's outfit begins slaughtering people all over town, and leaving macabre Valentine's messages for the police.

Tom finds himself prime suspect in a killing spree that has, after all, coincided with his own return to Harmony - but in a community full of bad blood, there are plenty of other potential perpetrators about, if only they were not all themselves being culled. Events inexorably drive Tom, Axel and Sarah back to the old mine, where they must confront the implacable spectre of Harry Warden, or die trying.

Like the film that is its model, My Bloody Valentine 3-D owes a greater debt to giallo than to the American slashers that this Italian genre went on to inspire. For here, alongside all the baroque slice-and-dice there is a genuine mystery whodunnit, as viewers are kept guessing to the end just who is behind the miner's gasmask (not a question that much bothered the audiences for such slasher classics as Halloween, Friday The 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street).

In order to keep its killer's identity under wraps, Lussier's film at times plays fast and loose with the rules of the game - but only in a way that has recently been made acceptable by other, similar films that it would be a spoiler of criminal proportions to name here.

In the end, the weaknesses of My Bloody Valentine 3-D are also its strengths. Sure, it is a vacuous trawl through horror's more sensationalist tropes, without the justification of any broader subtext - but that is just another way of saying that this is popcorn cinema at its most unapologetic and unpretentious, guaranteed to delight gorehounds and to bring young lovers closer together. Job done.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Megan Boone, Kerr Smith, Jaime King, Jensen Ackles, Richard John Walters, Joy De La Paz, Karen Baum, Edi Gathegi, Betsy Rue, Tom Atkins, Kevin Tighe
  • Director: Patrick Lussier
  • Screen Writer: Todd Farmer, Zane Smith
  • Writer (Story): Stephen Miller
  • Producer: Jack L Murray
  • Photographer: Brian Pearson
  • Composer: Michael Wandmacher

In a nutshell

Yes, it is another horror remake, but My Bloody Valentine 3-D looks fantastic, delivers on the grand guignol and feels more like a labour of love than a cynical cash-in.

by Anton Bitel

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