‘Bloody’ Good Remake Of Valentine Horror/Slasher Classic

They say the best way to criticize a movie is to make a better movie. No one was calling for a remake of the 1981 horror/slasher classic My Bloody Valentine. But as the old saying goes, “What’s old is new again.” The 3-D format had become popular again around the end of the 2000s and so did remakes of movies made in the 1970s and 1980s.

I guess you could blame the Dawn of the Dead remake in 2004, directed by a then-unknown Zack Snyder and written by Troma graduate James Gunn, which wowed critics and audiences alike with its new take on the zombie apocalypse classic. Hollywood saw dollar signs and decided to remake everything. The Fog was remade. Then, Prom Night was remade. Hollywood was also remake Japanese horror movies into The Ring and The Grudge.

And then there was Rob Zombie’s Halloween and a remake of Friday the 13th. So, it was no surprise, there would be a remake of My Bloody Valentine. Released in the winter of 1981 a few days before Valentine’s Day, the movie about a killer in a miner’s workclothes terrorizing a small mining community pushed the envelope. Filmed in the Sydney Mines in Nova Scotia, the movie was took advantage of the Canadian tax breaks for filmmaking. It was produced by John Dunning who had help David Cronenberg and Ivan Reitman direct some of their groundbreaking movies.

But it was very violent. And there are supposedly numerous edits out there. Some footage has been reportedly lost. Paramount Pictures, who distributed the movie, demanded some cuts following the murder of John Lennon two months earlier as well as backlash over the 1980 Friday the 13th movie. Still, the movie has its legion of fans, including filmmaker Quentin Tarantino who considers it one of the best horror movies and is one of his favorites.

So, I groaned when I saw that there was going to be a remake released in January of 2009. This meant that it was probably going to suck. Well, sometimes, it’s best to watch something before you make a decision. Ironcially, I watched My Bloody Valentine 3D for the first time on Halloween of 2009. And I must admit, it was very, very good. I’d even say it’s better made than the 1981 original.

The premise is the same about a killer in a miner’s workclothes terrorizing a mining town in Appalachia. But there is something different. There’s more character development to this movie and more tension on who may be behind it all. The set-up is the same. On Valentine’s Day 1997, six miners are trapped underground following an explosion in the minining town of Harmony. Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles), only a teenageir, working in the mines his father owns, admits he forgot to vent the methane lines which caused the explosion. When the rescue team is able to recover the miners, they discover only Harry Warden (Richard John Walters) is alive but comatose. And it’s discovered he killed the other five miners to keep himself alive so they wouldn’t use up the oxygen.

The change here is that in the original Warden actually killed the other miners and ate their body parts when he went crazy. A year later, Harry awakens from his coma and goes on a killing spree, murdering hospital staff before going to the mines. Tom shows up where the high-school kids are holding a Valentine’s Day party in the mines. Tension is there between him and his girlfriend, Sarah Mercer (Jaime King). Her friend, Irene (Betsy Rue), is there with her boyfriend, Axel Palmer (Kerr Smith), who doesn’t think too highly of Tom.

When they go into the mines, they discover some of the other teens have been killed and Harry appears and goes to killing other teenagers. Axel, Irene and Sarah get out but Tom stays behind to fight Harry but Axel takes off in his truck with the two young woman. Sheriff Jim Burke (Tom Atkins) and other deputies arrive in time to shoot Harry to avoid him from killing Tom. Harry staggers wounded deep into the mines as the law enforcement try to track him down.

Ten years later, Axel is now the sheriff after Burke retired. He’s married to Sarah as Tom left Harmony shortly after the killing spree and no one knows where he is. Irene has become a prostitute. As Valentine’s Day approaches, the town is on edge as the 10-year anniversay of the massacre is nearing. News media are making stories much to Axel’s chagrin who tells them what he really thinks.

Tom’s father has died a few days earlier and he has returned to Harmony in hopes of speaking with manager Ben Foley (Kevin Tighe) of selling the mines. His re-emergence in Harmony along with word he’s going to sell the mines, thus putting much of the people’s liveliehoods in trouble, makes him a persona non grata around town. Tom is still blamed more than a decade later for the explosion that drove Harry Warden mad and people try to fight him when he goes to the local bar.

But there is also another problem. At a local motel that is mostly used for hook-ups, Irene has been killed along with a truck driver, Frank (Todd Farmer), and the motel proprietor, Selene (Selena Luna). Irene was found nude in the heart-shaped bathtub with her heart removed and sent to the sheriff’s station. Axel and Deputy Martin also discover that Tom is back in town as his name is in the guest registry and seen on footage Frank took of his sex hook-up with Irene. Also on the video is a killer wearing the miner’s workclothes like Harry Warden wore.

Has Harry Warden returned to Harmony after a 10-year absense? Or is someone else copycatting the murders? I won’t say any more to anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, because Farmer, who wrote the screenplay, and director Patrick Lussier really build a great suspenseful movie. Yes, it’s a cheesy horror B-movie, but it’s a good cheesy horror B-movie and the 3-D technology adds to the thrills. There’s some impressive shots I must say and one scene seems to be an homage to the eye-ball scene from Zombies.

Lussier, who worked as an editor on several movies directed by Wes Craven, including the first three Scream movies as well as New Nightmare, knows how to make a good story. Aside from being a horror, it looks at how a traumatic event has an effect on several people. Tom ran away from everyone. Even though Axel and Sarah got married, their union is rocky as Axel has been having an affair with a younger woman, Megan (Megan Boone), who works with Sarah at the local grocery store she manages. King, herself, gives a great performance as a woman stuck between two people, her high school boyfriend who she still has feelings for and her husband, who she loves despite his faults and problems. Some might say this soap opera drama deters from the horror but I think it adds to the story especially when Axel and Tom are pointing the finger at each other as the real killer.

Made on a small budget of $14 million in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania, the movie made about $100 at the box office and garnered some good reviews. It currently has a 61 percent fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com. While some of the 3-D is gimmicky as there’s several scenes of characters pointing a firearm or pickaxe toward the camera, Lussier manages to use the camera angles to further illustrate the RealD technology.

What do you think? Please comment.

Published by bobbyzane420

I'm an award winning journalist and photographer who covered dozens of homicides and even interviewed President Jimmy Carter on multiple occasions. A back injury in 2011 and other family medical emergencies sidelined my journalism career. But now, I'm doing my own thing, focusing on movies (one of my favorite topics), current events and politics (another favorite topic) and just anything I feel needs to be posted. Thank you for reading.

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