Director – George Mihalka
Cast – Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Keith Knight, Alf Humphreys, Cynthia Dale, Helene Udy, Rob Stein, Thomas Kovacs, Terry Waterland, Carl Marotte, Jim Murchison, Gina Dick, Peter Cowper, Don Francks
Release Year – 1981
Reviewed by John of the Dead
One year after we were given one of horror’s most staple slasher films, Friday the 13th, a moody and underappreciated slasher film erupted on February 11th, 1981, titled My Bloody Valentine. While I believe The Prowler, another 1981 slasher film, is the best horror film centering on Valentines Day, this film provides a nice blend of horror, drama, and bloody goodness to please anyone looking for a cheezy take on that bogus holiday.
My Bloody Valentine takes place in the small Nova Scotia mining town of Valentine Bluffs. 20 years ago a group of miners were trapped deep within the mine shafts while the rest of the town celebrated a huge Valentine’s Day party. Only one of the miner’s survived the six-week ordeal, but lost his mind in the process and was sent to a mental institution. However, he gave the town a grueling message to never again celebrate Valentine’s Day, or else. It is now present time, and the townsfolk are planning the very first Valentine’s Day celebration since that dreadful event from their past, and someone has taken notice to the party planning. One by one the townsfolk are being killed off, their heart stuffed in a heart-shaped box, and sent to the sheriff’s office. The sheriff knows what is going on, and despite his attempts to cancel the big celebration, a group of partying townsfolk hold a party of their own…in the very mines where the killer is waiting.
It is obvious that this film is one of the most well-known slasher films of all time, and Hollywood proved that with its 2009 3-D remake of the film. This flick gets things going right from the get-go with director George Mihalka’s moody and gritty cinematography and sweet kill sequences. The look of the killer, donning his mining suit and head lamp, was sweet and reminded me of the epic “Repo Man” from Repo! The Genetic Opera. Thankfully, this awesome killer is put to good use and makes many appearances throughout the film, satisfying my desire to get what I wanted from this character. The kill scenes were awesome, and Mr. Mihalka did not stray away from the gore at all, which lead to a well-known battle between Mihalka and the MPAA over the amount of gore involved in the film. In reference to mood and atmosphere this flick is a winner. Real mining sets were used for the scenes in the mines, which provided the perfect setting for the great kills and usage of such a spooky looking antagonist. Dark corners and shadows are everywhere, which by nature provides the viewer with even more tension due to the fact that he killer could lurk anywhere, much like the excellent usage of the cave setting in Neil Marshall’s The Descent.
Story-wise I really dug this flick, because it gave us one of the first horror films to take on Valentine’s Day. We have seen many horror films taking on Halloween and Christmas, but Valentine’s Day…that hardly ever happens. The idea is genius, given what better day to lay on the terror than a day of “love” and roses. The element of “love” does not really play a big part in this storyline though(something you might expect given the V-day reference) as this focuses more on revenge than romantic turmoil(as in The Prowler), but I did not really mind that one bit. You know I love revenge themed flicks, and the revenge element is high in this one. I really loved how the killer would stuff the victim’s heart in a heart-shaped V-day box, and use it to taunt the sheriff, who is trying desperately not to alert the town and cause mass panic. It is thanks to these cool kills and other elements that help this film pace moderately well, although things can get a bit slow when we are thrown into the protagonist character drama, which I felt came in a bit heavy at times and strayed away from the focus of the story.
Overall, this is an awesome early 80s slasher film that has stood the test of time as one of the most well-known of horror slashers. We get a sweet killer, awesome kills, moody direction, and a revenge-themed storyline that gets the job done.