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My Bloody Valentine
As I write this review, My Bloody Valentine 3D is scheduled for a theatrical release in just a couple weeks. The remake has had an interesting promotional campaign, with a well-designed poster highlighting the miner killer's pickaxe, and the commercial trailer promising 1950s-style 3D thrills.
As is often the case with big budget movies with antecedents, there's a home video component to this promotion. Lo and behold, Paramount teams up with Lionsgate to finally release what slasher film fans have been clamoring for, a special edition of the 1981 original that includes an extended version with all the scenes censored out of its theatrical cut. And big surprise, there are extras on the disc meant to whet the appetites of those looking forward to the imminent remake (more on this later on in the review).
In 2002, Paramount released a bare bones DVD of My Bloody Valentine. This double dip is definitely an upgrade and recommended to collectors who own the original DVD. While Lionsgate's release highlights the extended version of the movie, the original theatrical version is also included.
For the uninitiated, My Bloody Valentine exists somewhere in the twilight area of cult classic-hood. It was released during the heyday of the slasher movie, on the heels of John Carpenter's immortal Halloween and the iconic Friday the 13th. It has quite a few hallmarks of traditional slasher movies: it involves a holiday, an anniversary of a murder, a masked killer who breathes heavily as he stalks his prey, obnoxious young people, and a sharp murder instrument (in this case, a pickaxe). And yet, despite a novel spin on the formula with its location at a mining town and unique slasher garb, the movie never quite "caught on" like many of its contemporaries.
My Bloody Valentine involves the denizens of Valentine Bluffs, a mining town that has not celebrated Valentine's Day for 20 years due to an unfortunate tragedy on that day two decades ago. This year, however, the townsfolk have decided to celebrate the holiday with a dance at the local union hall. The town is decked out in colorful Valentine's Day decorations. However, someone isn't happy about the Valentine's Day festivities. This individual, garbed in a miner's outfit and bearing a pickaxe, begins offing townspeople left and right, leaving Valentine's notes demanding the festivities be put to a stop. And they are, by the worried old folks of the community. But, this is a slasher movie, and young people have to do the most stupid thing possible or else My Bloody Valentine won't be a movie; thus, they decide to have a semi-secret Valentine's Day party at the mine all the guys work at. The inevitable bloodbath ensues until the final characters unmask the killer at the end of the movie.
While I'm a fan of slasher movies, I've never thought much of My Bloody Valentine one way or the other. It seemed like a competently made slasher film for its time, but the characters never really appealed to me and the storyline seemed strictly standard. This newly released extended cut didn't change any of this, of course, but the added footage does add some outrageousness to the goings-on. Some of the kill sequences are more memorable, especially a murder early in the film that involves a dryer at a Laundromat. It's no Halloween, but for a genre with a lot of questionable entries, one can do much, much worse than the original My Bloody Valentine. Recommended.
The theatrical cut of My Bloody Valentine looks terrific: Lionsgate / Paramount gives it an anamorphic widescreen presentation. Colors and details are strong, with only minor video noise noticeable. The extended version has deleted scenes edited out of the original theatrical cut. These scenes are not in as good condition. Details are lacking, and a lot of dirt can be seen. It's great to have the extended version of the movie, of course, but the shifts in video quality are fairly stark at times.
My Bloody Valentine beats with two different audio options: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. The 5.1 seems to be the default setting, so if you want a "classic" feel to the movie, you'll have to switch over to the mono track. I did this, since it's the original track, and found it to be quite strong with dialogue always clear.
Subtitles are also available in English and Spanish.
Bloodlust: My Bloody Valentine and the Rise of the Slasher Film (20:35) is a featurette that is actually a couple different things awkwardly edited together. It starts off as a simple primer on slasher films with Adam Rockoff. This is the most interesting aspect of the featurette, as Rockoff wrote a well-written and accessible book on the slasher film titled Going to Pieces a few years back (a definite must-read for horror film fans). The featurette also provides some background on My Bloody Valentine with several members of the cast and crew participating. Unfortunately, the second half of the featurette devolves into an infomercial on the soon-to-be-released My Bloody Valentine and that becomes a bloody bore. So, all in all, an okay featurette - at least it's presented in anamorphic widescreen.
Bloodlines: An Interactive Horror Film History is a text-based overview of various subgenres of the horror film presented as a navigable branching tree. I liked this featurette, although the information is rather basic and horror film fans won't learn much new from it.
My Bloody Valentine's cut footage is presented individually in another extra, with brief introductions from the cast and crew. This was nice, but if you watch the extended version of the movie, this extra can probably be skipped.
Finally, trailers precede the main menu for The Haunting in Connecticut, My Bloody Valentine 3D (wow, big surprise there, huh?), Saw V, Repo! The Genetic Opera, and Disaster Movie. They're also accessible - en masse - in the menu system via an Also From Lionsgate link.
While I wouldn't categorize it as a classic of the genre, My Bloody Valentine is an entertaining - and rather silly - entry from the heyday of the slasher film. This double dip from Lionsgate and Paramount is recommended, as the extended cut is more entertaining than the original theatrical cut released on DVD in 2002 (though that cut is available here too).