My Bloody Valentine (1981) review

My Bloody Valentine posterDirector: George Mihalka

Starring: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Keith Knight, Cynthia Dale, Helene Udy, Alf Humphreys

“Roses are red, violets are blue, one is dead… and so are you.” (killer’s note, My Bloody Valentine)

Valentine’s Day can be a pain in the arse at the best of times.

If you’re single it can be a thoroughly depressing affair as you hear countless tales of lovebirds wooing each other with gifts and other tokens of their adoration.

Meanwhile, being one of said lovebirds is no picnic either, what with the stress of having to buy your partner a present and hoping it’s the right size, or the right colour, or the specific type they asked for.

All of this pales in comparison to the small rural American town of Valentine’s Bluff, though. There Valentine’s Day can be a real killer. Literally.

My Bloody Valentine (which, yes, the band named themselves after) follows a group of randy teens as they organise a Valentine’s Day dance. It’s a big deal for the town because, despite its name, Valentine’s Day hasn’t been celebrated there for decades.

No wonder - it doesn't exactly look like Party Central.
No wonder – it doesn’t exactly look like Party Central

To be fair, it’s understandable. Twenty years prior, an accident in the town’s mine led to five workers being trapped underground when their supervisors left their posts early to attend a Valentine’s dance.

Four of the trapped workers died and the fifth, Harry Warden, had to resort to cannibalism to survive. Yum!

When he was finally rescued after a lengthy rescue attempt, an insane Harry killed the two negligent supervisors with a pickaxe, ripped out their hearts and placed them in heart-shaped boxes as a warning to the town to never celebrate Valentine’s Day ever again.

Still, that was 20 years ago (to the day) and nothing dodgy’s happened since so I’m sure the teens should be able to have a Valentine’s dance without incident. And I’m sure the multiple heart-shaped boxes that have been turning up with real human hearts in them and notes warning not to have another Valentine’s dance are just a coincidence. Actually, wait.

"Sigh. Fucking amateur hour at Tesco's butcher department yet again"
“Sigh. Fucking amateur hour at Tesco’s butcher department yet again”

When Mabel, the local laundromat worker, turns up dead with her heart removed, the sheriff wisely decides that maybe the killer isn’t bluffing and orders that the dance is cancelled. The end.

Except it isn’t the end, because the teens – unaware of the heart-nappings – call bullshit on the sheriff’s decision and decide to have their own secret party where they won’t be caught.

And where do they have it? In the mine. You know, the mine where that guy was trapped. Remember? The guy who ripped those other folk’s hearts out? Guess what happens next.

"Morning!"
“Morning!”

Actually, My Bloody Valentine isn’t as cut-and-dry as you’d expect. Although the implication is that Harry Warden has come back for revenge, there are some interesting surprises tucked away in there to keep you wondering if that actually is the case.

The mine setting, meanwhile, is an inspired decision. Filmed in an actual mine in Nova Scotia, its claustrophobic tunnels and halls are perfect for building tension, as is the film’s insistence on pointing out that the only way to leave the mine is by using a minecart with a slow pulley system. So no running away, kids!

There are also some surprisingly gory deaths in there (as long as you watch the recently released uncut version).

Don't worry kids, you don't end up dying in a horribly gruesome way. Well, some of you don't.
Don’t worry kids, you don’t end up dying in a horribly gruesome way. Well, some of you don’t.

One poor chap in particular is hanged in such a violent fashion that his head pops off, while you’ll certainly feel sorry for the poor lass who’s impaled on a shower nozzle.

My Bloody Valentine is an entertaining Canadian slasher film with an interesting setting, some nice tension-building moments and a few particularly nasty kills. Recommended.

Oh, and as a bonus, play my drinking game in which you take a drink every time you see Canadian beer Moosehead. It’s all over the bloody place so you’ll be getting your stomach pumped by the time the credits roll.

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My Bloody Valentine’s rating earns it a place in the hallowed That Was A Bit Mental Hall Of Fame. Click here to see which other films have made the grade.

HOW CAN I SEE IT?
Sadly, in the UK you can only get the cut version of My Bloody Valentine on a pishy DVD ‘courtesy’ of Paramount. In the US, you can get the uncut version on Blu-ray and on DVD. Thankfully, the Blu-ray is region-free (it’s the version I watched for this review) so any Brits really interested in seeing the uncut version can import it.

Alternatively, if you prefer the streaming option, UK readers can buy the uncut version from Amazon Instant Video but only to keep, not rent – at the time of writing the HD version is £7.99 and the SD version is £6.99. It’s also available for streaming on the US version of Netflix.

SHOW ME THE TRAILER:

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