MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D began life as a lesser-known-but-well-loved 1981 Canadian slasher film of the same name, minus the 3-D. Because name recognition is king, it was updated in 2009 with a bigger budget, a glossier cast, and what was at the time a technology that was considered way past its prime. Five years later, it’s strange to remember, but up until 2009, 3-D movies were a joke on the level of Smell-O-Vision; an archaic technology, and a gamble of a release strategy. AVATAR was undoubtedly the movie that changed that. Now, sometimes for better and very often for worse, 3-D is a routine part of the multiplex experience. But let’s be fair: the MY BLOODY VALENTINE remake beat AVATAR and all the rest to it by several months.
The following is what I wrote about MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D back in 2009. There are absolutely no spoilers, and I might have written some things differently today, but my brief comments on the 3D format are somewhat telling.
It wasn’t as easy as I thought to get to see NOTORIOUS, the cinematic life story of hometown hero Christopher Wallace, The Notorious B.I.G.. Somehow I thought that I could just slip into the theater, in New York, in Times Square, on opening day – what a maroon!
Instead I bought a ticket for MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D! The ticket came with 3-D glasses. The movie was a blast. I knew that it was going to be, even before the opening sequence, because some of the other folks who couldn’t get a ticket for NOTORIOUS spilled into the theater with me. So when the disclaimer screen appeared, politely advising, “Please put on your 3-D glasses now,” some guy in the row behind me shouted out:
“PUT ON YOUR GLASSES, NIGGA!”
(By the way: If Rowdy Roddy Piper had said that to Keith David in THEY LIVE, that alleyway fist-fight would’ve lasted twice as long.)
Point is, MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D is an audience participation movie, and my audience was more than willing to participate.
Surely there are many other horror fiends and gorehounds who can explain to you what’s so fun about this movie, and whether or not it beats other psycho-killer flicks. I’m a horror fan but more of a monster-movie type, generally less enthusiastic about the slasher film sub-genre. I’m not the kind who generally thrills to kills (I want all the nice people to live!) and yet I loved watching MY BLOODY VALENTINE. If you’re going to fake-kill this many human beings on screen, you may as well be creative about it, and in that respect, this film never falters. It has a couple surprises, a couple inventive ideas, somewhat better acting and character development than you expect, not nearly as many crappy bits as you expect, a bunch of pretty girls, and a little person with a shotgun… or did I hallucinate that scene? No, I’m pretty sure this movie has an extended sequence where the menacing psycho-killer faces down a dwarf woman who will not go softly into that good night. That’s really not something you see every day.
The story has to do with old crimes in a small town. A mining accident a decade in the past led to a horrific situation where the one survivor, Harry Warden, could only escape a cave-in by killing his fellow miners (to preserve the oxygen). The mine owner’s son (Jensen Ackles, the growly butch one from TV’s Supernatural) was partly to blame for the accident, and to compound his torment, a now-crazed Harry Warden awakens and goes on a Valentine’s Day murdering spree. Warden is forced back into the mine, and seems to disappear, and the mine heir leaves town. Of course, he returns a decade later with plans to sell the mine, and coincidentally, a series of murders resumes. Is it Harry Warden?
Who cares, really, but the movie actually does do a way-better-than-average job of keeping you guessing for a while. The main suspense is in the jump-scares, the main shocks are in the intensity and the speed of the gore-gags — Harry Warden wields a pick-axe, and you can imagine what kind of mischief a guy like that can get up to with an R-rating in 3D technology. The cast does the most they can with their roles while they’re waiting to get knocked off, especially the excellent character actor Kevin Tighe and the genre legend Tom Atkins.
Tom Atkins I said!!!
You’d also have to single out the intrepid Betsy Rue for her work in the movie’s most memorable scene, in which she is stalked by the killer and actually does an impressive job fending him off, especially because she is running around entirely naked. Even though my personal investment in the potential victims seemed to run to her more demure costar Megan Boone [now starring on the NBC show The Blacklist], I have to salute this courageous young actress for what could not have been a comfortable filmmaking experience. It’s a genuinely heroic performance. That’s all I can (or probably should) say.
As for the technology, it’s well worth a look. I’m sure it tripled the fun I had with the movie. After seeing how this mid-budget horror picture looks and works in 3-D, I feel like this technology has a lot of potential. Once I got accustomed to the wearing of the glasses and all the self-consciousness that wearing them implies, I was fascinated by every frame. I can only imagine what Spielberg or Mann or Boyle or Nolan or Del Toro or Raimi – holy cow, Raimi! – could do with 3-D cameras. In the meantime, see this movie in the theaters while you can – and take a date. Or at least, your funniest friend.
For further reading: Here is my piece on what is arguably Tom Atkins’ finest hour, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS.
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