FEBRUARY 13, 2008
Fuck you, Paramount. Fuck you in your mountain’s ass! The atrocity that is the Friday the 13th boxed set is nothing compared to the criminally weak treatment that My Bloody Valentine was given for its DVD release. I hope whoever decided “they don’t even need the trailer on this disc” was promptly fired and then shot for good measure. At least some of the F13 movies had commentaries and such. Christ.
See, unlike most of the other slasher films from 1981, My Bloody Valentine is actually quite good even without all of the gore. Something like The Burning or even Halloween II pretty much rely on their gore setpieces to keep viewer interest. But MBV is great fun even with almost zero splatter (with one minor exception, the only blood you see in the film is on already killed folks), all of which was removed by the MPAA (rumored to be around 9 minutes of footage!) for theatrical release, and never restored. Some of the kill scenes are rendered wholly incomprehensible, particularly the death of Howard (which is that one exception to the splatter I mentioned). Instead of, you know, what is happening, you just see a few drops hit the face of one of the heroines and then Howard’s body fall down a shaft. Huh? After about a dozen viewings now I am pretty sure that his body was hung from his neck and then thrown from above, and the impact caused his head to be severed, but when you’re talking about a genre that more or less exists primarily to showcase effects work, cutting it to the point of confusion seems a bit counterproductive.
Luckily, as mentioned, the film works without it. There is quite a lot of character development, but the film never feels slow (there are 3-4 kills by the 40 minute mark). And it’s still one of the only slasher movies with a cast of folks in their late 20s or early 30s (whether they are SUPPOSED to be teens is unknown, everyone refers to them as “kids” but maybe that’s just Canadian slang). I also consider Chief Newby, despite his stupid name, one of the best slasher movie cops ever, up there with Sheriff Garris in F13 part 6 and of course, the patron saint of the horror police force: Sheriff Leigh Brackett.
Also I am forever in love with Cynthia Dale, aka Patty, the hottest slasher victim ever (sorry, Vicky from F13 2):
It also works on a suspense/scare level, which is again, ironically not a strong point of any of these early 80s slashers. The scene of the Miner smashing all of the lights as he heads toward our heroines continues to impress, and the vicious attack on the poor old lady at the Laundromat (and who the hell is Jake, by the way?) is a great setpiece. I also think the mystery holds up, even on repeat viewings there aren’t a lot of “oh why didn’t I notice THAT!” moments, something that cripples Scream on a 2nd viewing (check out how many times Stu and Billy give each other weird looks).
So besides the abhorrent editing, is there anything I don’t like? Well, not really, though a couple things sort of bug me. One is the driving in this movie. Every scene of someone driving involves a car nearly swerving out of control. What the hell is up with these Canadians? I wouldn’t want to drive anywhere near a single character. Also, the accents are distracting, because they are thicker than any other Canada-lensed movie I can remember. I don’t think they ever specify that the film takes place in America or Canada (the town of Valentine Bluffs is fictional, so that’s no help), but still, hearing Axl say “We didn’t knooo waarrr you were!” sort of lessens the impact of the scene. Since they don’t say it’s Canada, I have to assume they are supposed to be Americans (don’t forget, 90% of all movies filmed in Toronto try to pass themselves off as being New York, Boston, etc). I also never got why TJ was so delighted to be climbing that ladder after finding some of his friends dead:
You may wonder why I haven’t mentioned the theme song. For 14 years now (literally half of my life!) I have been trying to find out who sang the damn thing. No one knows, and the internet doesn’t help, because if you Google “My Bloody Valentine song” all that comes up is either the Irish band or people asking about who sang it. I’ve just about had it. SOMEONE HAS TO FUCKING KNOW!!!
(*Robert Stack voice* UPDATE! Paul Zaza, the film's composer, confirmed via Email that he is both the composer and artist behind the theme song, which is titled "The Ballad of Valentine." I consider the matter closed.)
Speaking of my long association with this film, yes, I first saw it when I was 13 or 14 and have watched it every year since, on my illegal dupe, then on a VHS, and now DVD (maybe next year will be a Blu Ray?). I even wrote a treatment for a sequel when I was like 15, which would involve the staff of the mental hospital where the killer was locked up having a party and then, shockingly enough, being killed when he got out of his room (OR DID HE?). It was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.
Anyway, I hope you celebrate tonight or tomorrow with a viewing of this classic. Butchering aside, it remains the all time best non-franchise slasher movie and serves as a reminder that you don’t need to have a lot of splatter (or any, in fact) to make an effective one.
What say you?