Supposedly, Quentin Tarantino has said that My Bloody Valentine is his favorite slasher film of all time.
I just don’t get it.
Valentine Bluffs is a small mining town with a sappy name and a dark past. Twenty years ago, two negligent supervisors left their post to attend a Valentine’s Day dance, and an explosion trapped and killed most of the men. The sole survivor, Harry Warden, went a little bonkers, and on the one-year anniversary of the explosion, he murdered those two negligent supervisors, warning the town to never have a Valentine’s Day dance again . . . or else. (You got to feel that he’s sort of focusing on the wrong thing here, but hey, can’t argue with a crazy man, right?) The town obeys this edict for the next two decades, but when they eventually give in to their need for tacky decorations and spiked punch, people start dying again.
1. In 2009, there was a rather terrible, 3-D remake of this movie. I saw it for two reasons.
A. It had Jensen Ackles in it.
B. I was excited about the 3-D.
Yes, it’s true. I was looking forward to the 3-D. Me. But you have to understand, this was before Avatar. This was before James Cameron’s crusade to
crush my soul change the face of filmmaking forever took off. My Bloody Valentine 3-D is a shitty movie, but it’s exactly the kind of movie I’d like 3-D to be used for . . . silly, gory, shlocky fun.
Still, even for silly, gory, shlocky fun, the remake is really not all that good. So I just assumed that the original would at least be a little better.
Honestly? I’m not sure that it is.
2. (Although at least this one actually incorporates the Valentine’s Day dance into the plot. The remake makes you wonder why the hell it’s even CALLED My Bloody Valentine in the first place.)
3. The characters in this movie are almost all annoying, particularly the love triangle between TJ, Axel, and Sarah.
See, TJ was with Sarah, back in the day, but then he left town to make his fortune or something. Only he apparently never actually bothered to have a discussion with Sarah about this plan; he just kind of left. So, eventually, Sarah hooked up with his friend, Axel, instead. But when TJ couldn’t make it on his own, he had to come back to work as a miner, and now he seems to expect Sarah to just jump into his arms. (He seems to think she’s just been hanging around, waiting for him to return home all this time.) TJ’s very pissy about the whole thing, and his favorite activity seems to be standing nearby and pensively staring at them. So, yeah. Can’t say I much like TJ.
But to be fair, Axel’s kind of a big, insensitive oaf. He’s just as much of an ass about this whole situation as TJ is, so really, I can’t say I exactly find him endearing, either. Which means Sarah should just dump both of them and be a single woman for a change . . . but Sarah prefers to waffle instead, and I must be honest here: it’s always been hard for me to muster up a lot of sympathy for pretty, petite blondes who have to choose between the two men who want her. You know? Like, yeah, hon, it sounds positively ROTTEN, having two men fawn over you, but why don’t you just go ahead and call me up when you have a REAL problem, okay?
4. And while we’re on the subject of annoying characters, let’s talk about this guy . . .
. . . who could have prevented almost every terrible thing that happens in this movie, if he wasn’t quite so determined to be an idiot.
The idiot in question is Chief Jake Newby (Don Francks). Now, normally small town cops fail to act in these kind of movies because they don’t believe that anything’s actually going to happen. You know, it’s all urban legends, ghost stories, mass hysteria, whatever. That girl who was found on the side of the road, well, she probably just fell on about twenty upright knives while hitchhiking, that’s all. You know, it was an accident. These things happen.
But that’s not the case here. Chief Newby is warned to call off the dance not once, but twice, and the second time the warning includes a person being murdered and shoved into a dryer. And, to be fair, Newby does call off the dance. The thing is, he doesn’t tell anyone about the murder. He just lies and says that this person died of a sad-but-perfectly-normal heart attack. (Why? Because he doesn’t want to cause a panic, see. There’s always some bastard worrying about a panic, and you know, sometimes, panic is a perfectly legitimate response, people.)
When all the young folk bitterly complain—and to be fair to them, this dance does look like it might be the only fun thing that happens in town all year—Newby just tells them they are not allowed to party, and that’s that, dammit.
I’m sure we can all guess how well that particular commandment goes over.
5. The best thing I can say about this movie is that the concept and design of their serial killer is actually pretty creepy.
It has all the makings of a really iconic costume. The gas mask has this kind of a bug quality going for it. The light allows the killer to see in the dark while also probably blinding you if you’re standing directly in front of him. The breathing apparatus makes him sound a little bit like Darth Vader (always a bonus), and he’s got a pickaxe. You gotta love a pickaxe.
6. Also, some of the deaths are fairly creative. A good number of people die in this movie, and in a lot of different ways. My favorite? Bobbing for hot dogs in boiling water.
7. Still, ultimately, this wasn’t one of my favorite horror films to watch because I didn’t really like any of the characters and couldn’t make myself care if anyone made it. We watched this right after Alone in the Dark, and while it was a better movie than that purely on the basis that it (mostly) made sense, it wasn’t nearly as much fun to pick apart. I mean, it was okay, I guess, but ultimately pretty forgettable. I never feel the need to watch this again.
8. Although I must say, the opening scene with the slutty blonde girl who’s totally fondling the killer’s breathing tube . . . well, that was funny. Seriously, I’ve never seen anyone give a handjob to a gas mask before. (Although I’m not exactly sure when this scene was supposed to take place. Was this during the first attack twenty years ago? It seems oddly unattached to the rest of the story.)
9. I also feel it’s necessary to mention that as I work graveyards, I’m well aware that many services are not available after, say, midnight. I have to get security to let me into half a dozen departments on any given night because there’s no one in nutrition or materials or sterile processing around three in the morning.
That being said, I feel fairly confident that no matter what time it is, no matter if administration is open or not, someone will be capable of determining if a dangerous psychopath has escaped a mental hospital. Even in Canada.
10. Finally, time moves differently in Valentine Bluffs. At one point, the Chief says that he’s going to go down to the mines. (He has a bad feeling, see. As well as he should, that moron—but let’s move past that.) Twenty-five minutes later, he’s still apparently ambling around town—one can only assume he put his hunch on hold in order to eat a pulled pork sandwich or something—and a few of the kids have to drag him to the mine because people are dying down there. Like, what? If they’re going to do that scene, then why even bother having the one where the Chief has a hunch about the mines at all?
Chief Jake Newby, you are a deeply useless man.
I’m going to skip most of this movie and just get to the ending cause, wow, ending. First, the bad guy is not Harry Warden cause Harry Warden’s actually dead. No real surprise there. Actually, the bad guy is Axel himself, which isn’t exactly shocking, either, what with his managing to slip and supposedly drown. Like, uh-huh, buddy. No one’s buying that. Your body just happens to be lost at sea in the mine? We in the professional horror movie blogger business like to call that bullshit.
But why, you might ask, is Axel dressing up like Harry Warden and killing all his buddies in the first place? The popular theory among my friends (Axel being Harry’s secret lovechild) was close but no cigar. Actually, Axel is one of the dead supervisor’s kids, and was hiding under the bed, watching, when Harry Warden murdered his father. Apparently, that kind of thing can really fuck you up.
The hilarious thing about all of this is the way the exposition is handled. Through dialogue? Nah. Villainous sermon? Nope. Instead, Axel’s backstory is thrown in as a three-second flashback, directly in the middle of all the action. It’s the kind of flashback more commonly seen in parodies, and it’s (unintentionally) funny as hell.
Axel and TJ fight for a little while—Sarah is rather predictably useless—and the roof of the tunnel caves in, seemingly collapsing on Axel. This is when Chief Newby rushes in—like, seriously, dude, you serve no purpose; why are you even in this movie—and Axel turns out not to be dead after all. The movie ends with him crawling away, screechily promising to return while laughing hysterically and singing, and it’s just the most cartoonish thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I was cracking up so hard.
If I was ever supposed to take Axel seriously as a bad guy, well, all hope of that’s gone now.
Okay horror movie, I guess, but I wouldn’t call it anything special. Cool villain (until he’s unmasked, that is) and some fun death scenes, but annoying characters all around and just nothing very . . . intriguing or fun about it.
Honestly? I really don’t have one.
CHARACTER WHO MOST DESERVES TO BE SLAPPED WITH A BIG, DEAD, SMELLY FISH:
The Sheriff. (Although the bartender guy comes a close second. I didn’t talk about him earlier. See Moral [below] for details.)
When you know that a serial killer has returned to town, the proper response is to leave town, not hang back and try to scare those damn kids who don’t believe you with a stupid mannequin serial killer gag. Yeah. That’ll show em.
Also, a little panic is good for the soul. Stop trying to save us from our own fear, asshole, and start trying to save us from the SERIAL KILLER.