By Casey Campbell
Over the past year I’ve become infatuated with 80’s slashers. The good, the bad, and everything bizarre in between. Something that I’ve always wanted to watch, and only recently got the chance, is the original My Bloody Valentine. I intentionally kept the films details in the dark, bar the gas masked killer wielding a pickaxe. Everything else, though, was fresh.
My Bloody Valentine is certainly an 80’s slasher, and has some weird delightful moments throughout, but it’s definitely still an early slasher, if that’s fair to say. Nothing is nearly as campy as some of the films in the years following Valentine, and the kills are mostly offscreen. Does that mean it’s not good? Hell no. It’s still a bloody good time with many instances of earned horror throughout. And, it’s available on Hulu (and Amazon Prime).
Apparently there are two cuts of the film. Given the near lack of blood, I’m led to believe I saw the theatrical release, but it was still a good time. I think that can be ascribed to the fact that there is an interesting town as a backdrop, a pseudo-mystery regarding the killer, and a fairly unique central conflict for the protagonist.
Valentine’s Day is on the way in small mining town Valentine’s Bluffs, and the townsfolk are going all out on festivities. Only they shouldn’t be having any dances or parties, as twenty years earlier a devastating mining accident trapped and killed a slew of miners while the rest of the town went on and partied. Sole survivor Harry Warden made it out of the mine by eating his fellow workers. He would then go on a murder spree during the next years Valentine’s Party, leading the police to send him away to a mental hospital, and the rest of the town to stay away from any festivities on February 14th lest he return for further revenge.
It’s a super straightforward background for the film and town, and it works in setting up a budding anxiety as to whether or not the killer is actually back or if it’s a copycat. The drama is furthered when the mayor’s son T.J. returns home after an unsuccessful forray out west, and he has to deal with his ex-girlfriend dating his old friend. As you can imagine, this was mined for motivation later in the third act.
I think my favorite parts of the movie were when the town was the focal point. It lent to some fun character interactions, and a decent establishment of history that we don’t really get to see, but certainly feel. The final act takes place in the mine, and while I loved the initial dive into the dark, it floundered a bit in it’s finale. Some of the kills were kind of tragic, with loved ones looking on and acting utterly gutted and disturbed. I personally don’t watch slashers to feel bad about the victims, and I’m sure that sounds psychotic, but the slashers I’ve been fond of haven’t taken the deaths very seriously and they were delivered with a bit of levity. That’s not a detriment to the film itself, but more of a personal thing for myself.
My Bloody Valentine is a good holiday themed slasher with an interesting climax that I’m sure many people loved more than me. Overall though, it’s worth a watch for horror fans. But if you’re a horror fan, you’ve probably already checked it out. If not, it’s on Hulu and Amazon.