Recently I laughed upon hearing an upcoming horror film that takes places deep underwater was called Underwater. How could a studio put out a film that’s supposed to frighten you with a title that sounds like the sequel will be “Up To Your Ankles”? It’s almost like filmmakers don’t care about luring us in with a lurid title. A good horror film should have a title that kids on a school bus repeat as a sign of how cool they are. “Last weekend, we went to see Bambi, but snuck into a different theater and saw My Bloody Valentine.” That kid didn’t have to describe the plot to put a scare in those sitting around him in the back of the bus. Imagine saying “I snuck into Underwater” and everyone asking if it was a nature documentary. A horror film needs a title that creeps you out and makes you eager to buy a ticket. My Bloody Valentine went straight for your heart with a title that was only equaled by the underground horror it delivered. Now you don’t have to sneak into the theater to see what a miner with a pick can do a small community in Canada with My Bloody Valentine: Collector’s Edition.
Valentine’s Bluff was a small town in Canada that for years embraced it’s namesake on Valentine’s Day. Why the change? Because 20 years before most of the town was at the big Valentine’s Day Dance. There was one last crew working deep in the mine. The two men that were supposed to be working safety decided to split early to get to the eligible ladies. The gases built up and exploding trapped men deep below. Only Harry Warden survived after doing the unthinkable. A year later on Valentine’s Day, Harry returned to town and killed the two men. He cut out their hearts and warned the town to never have another dance on that day or he’d return. Well after 20 years, the mayor of Valentine’s Bluff is tired of being scared of a curse by someone that’s safely locked up in an insane asylum. So they paint the town red, hang up hearts and get the rec hall ready for dancing feet. Love has replaced fear in this mining town. Except it appears Harry isn’t happy at the festivities. The opening scene features a couple going deep into the mine. They’re both wearing black suits, hardhats and breathing masks that uncover their face. One miner unzips and takes off her mask to show she’s a lady with a heart tattoo. There’s a bit of foreplay that involves the breathing mask that is pretty much a fetish video. Except the climax is rather grizzly (if you watch the Uncut Version). The next morning, the mayor gets a special valentine with a human heart attached. But he doesn’t want to stop the festivities and give into fear. But then the woman in charge of the decorations has Harry drop by her laundromat and she gets her lint trap cleaned hard. Now the mayor wants to stop the party, but the young miners don’t care about the myth of Harry Warden. They’re ready to celebrate February 14th with their ladies. But Harry is going to be a massive party pooper with a pick-axe.
My Bloody Valentine is a classic body count film from the golden age of slashers. There’s a mysterious killer, a town desperate to overcome it’s haunted past and anyone can die at anytime. They keep us guessing as the identity of who is behind the mask and breathing hard? Is it Harry after he escaped the insane asylum? Perhaps the kid who failed on his trip to California that had to return to the mine? Why not the guy who looks like John Candy with a beard? Or maybe one of the ladies? There’s so many suspects that the only way to eliminate them is run a pick-axe through their heads.
What’s nice about the film is that it’s so damn Canadian. They’re not faking America. There’s a Moosehead Beer box. The actors don’t go with a Wisconsin accents. The final credits feature a song that sounds like a knock-off Gordon Lightfoot epic. This is true North of the Border scares so you can play this on both Valentine’s Day and Canada Day while eating a plate of poutine.
When the film came out in 1981, Paramount had allowed the MPAA to butcher most of the killing scenes in order to secure an R-rating. Seeing how it was the pre-home video era, the studio needed the R-rating to get into theaters and drive-ins across America in the quest for twisted young lovers to make it a date night. The studio didn’t want to release an unrated-uncut version even when home video was catching on in the VHS/Beta Era. It’s not until the 21st Century that we finally can see the complete film. This Collector’s Edition comes with both the original theatrical cut and a second disc with the “Uncut Version.” While the story always was that nearly 8 minutes was spliced away for the rating, there’s only 3 minutes added back. But it’s 3 minutes that really “rounds” out the killing scenes. Now you get the full effect that brings even more blood to My Bloody Valentine. Skip the chocolates and get someone you love My Bloody Valentine: Collector’s Edition.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. Both version of the film are presented in new 4K transfers from the original camera negative. Things look pretty sharp in the gritty town of Valentine’s Bluff. The audio is DTS-HD MA mono. The levels will creep you out when you hear the breathing through the mask. The movies are subtitled.
An Anemic Valentine (24:09) interviews Director George Mihalka. He talks about how the film was part of a two movie deals. George didn’t realize he was under the gun when he took the script since the producers needed it ready for theaters before Valentine’s Day. Nobody knew the ending on the set because they didn’t print the final three pages and give them to cast and crew. He talks about shooting in real mines.
From The Heart (14:15) chats with actor Paul Kelman. He talks about working in a film where nobody knew the killer until it was shot on the final day. He talks about creating a character that might be a suspect.
Friends Of Mine (19:20) meets up with Actress Lori Hallier. She liked not knowing the killer since she didn’t have her character hint who the real killer is. She also speaks of working in the mine shaft. They had to use special bulbs because they didn’t want to ignite any gas floating around.
Axel, Be My Valentine (14:18) lets actor Neil Affleck talks about creative tension. He points out how a different actor played the killer miner before the mask was yanked off to really let the cast feel clueless to their character’s real identity.
Becoming Sylvia (17:17) allows actress Helene Udy to relate that her audition was not repeating lines, but maintaining a long scream. She speaks of being lifted up by her head twice in the film.
The Secret Keeper (27:25) speaks with actor Rob Stein. He works with two names when he started in America with SAG, there already was a Rob Stein. He’d worked with the director before on Pinball Summer. The film was originally called The Secret when they shot it. But the script was a bit of a secret since nobody knew the killer.
Broken Hearts And Broken Bones (10:36) interviews with Special Makeup Effects Designer Tom Burman. He speaks how he had established an effects studio before Stan Winston and Rick Baker. He talks about working with Canadians during this time.
Holes In The Heart (12:29) look at the difference between The Theatrical Version And The Uncut Version. This is great so you don’t have to guess what was put back into the new version.
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:11) starts off with the oxygen mask breathing.
Original TV Spots (1:32) shows why you shouldn’t throw a Valentine’s Day party. There’s three trailers.
Original Radio Spots (1:01) will scare you out of driving to your loved one’s house.
Still Gallery (11:41) has on location photos, press pics and lobby cards.
Audio Commentary With Director George Mihalka is on the uncut version. He speaks of making a film in Canada before Hollywood started using Toronto and Vancouver in the later ’80s as substitutes for LA and New York City.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE 35th Anniversary Cast Reunion (46:54) is a panel at The Bay Of Blood Convention in Florida features Director George Mihalka, Cast Members Lori Hallier, Helene Udy, Rob Stein, Peter Cowper, Thomas Kovacs, Jim Murchison and Alf Humphreys. Brian Singleton handled the questions. Mihalka talks about the film being very Canadian. They recount how they found the perfect mining town and what happened when the locals found out they’d be in a big movie. They talk about the gory effects. There’s a discussion of why Paramount didn’t green light a sequel.
Thomas Kovacs Performs “The Ballad Of Harry Warden” (5:03) at The Bay Of Blood Convention with Peter Cowper and Jim Murchison. It’s a sing along!!!! There’s also footage of cast and crew signing and taking pictures at the con.
Scream Factory presents My Bloody Valentine: Collector’s Edition. Directed by: George Mihalka. Screenplay by: John Beaird. Starring: Paul Kalman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Don Francks, Cynthia Dale & Alf Humphreys. Rated: R Rated & Unrated. Running Time: 90 & 93 minutes. Released: February 11, 2020.
Tags: My Bloody Valentine, Scream Factory, Valentine's Day