‘My Bloody Valentine’ Original Is For Those Who Have A Love For Slashers

The original 1981 My Bloody Valentine is a slasher that is so notorious for pushing the envelope, rumors have persisted for decades that some original footage that had to cut is lost forever.

To capitalize on the slasher craze as movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th had become popular, Canadian movie producers scooped up whatever scripts they could to make a buck as the country had a tax incentive. With a plot that would be somewhat similar to The Prowler, released later in 1981, the movie focuses on a group of young people in the mining town of Valentine’s Bluff wanting to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a party.

Despite the town’s name, there isn’t much Valentine’s Day celebration in town for the past 20 years. As it’s revealed, there used to be a Valentine’s dance every year for a while. Unfortunately, there was an explosion caused when two supervisors forget to check the methane levels as they wanted to get to the dance. Five miners were trapped for weeks and when they finally were able to break through to rescue them, only Harry Warden (Peter Cowper) was found. He had gone mad and resorted to cannibalism.

Harry escaped from the mental hospital and a year later on Valentine’s Day, he tracked down the supervisors killing them and cutting out their hearts leaving them in Valentine candy dishes. He also left a note warning everyone in town not to hold another dance. And over the years, no one has. Yet, with a younger generation, it is being planned at the community building.

However, police chief Jake Newby (Don Francks) and Mayor Hanniger (Larry Reynolds), who owns the nearby mines, get a strict warning to close the dance. The mayor is sent a Valentine candy dish with a human heart. Later that night, middle-aged resident Mabel Osborne (Margaret Hamilton) who was helping the younger people plan and decorate for the dance is killed at a laundromat.

Hanniger and Newby cancel the death and tell everyone that Mabel just died of a heart attack, even though her body was found burned in a dryer. Her heart was removed as well. Newby tries to contact the mental hospital where Harry Warden was last listed but they have no record of him. Rumor circulate that Harry has returned again but the younger people just pass it off as the older people trying to scare them.

At the same time, Hanniger’s son, T.J. (Paul Kelman), has recently returned to Valentine’s Bluff after running off to live on the west coast for an undisclosed time. His girlfriend, Sarah Mercer (Lori Hallier), is dating Axel Palmer (Neil Affleck), who works in the mines with T.J. and has some authority over him despite T.J.’s father owning the mines. This along with the tension over Sarah has created problems between T.J. and Axel.

Sitting at their local hangout bar, the young miners decided that they could use the lunchroom at the mines for a party because they have kitchen facilities, tables and games. T.J. is okay with it but wants people to keep their vehicles hidden in case Newby comes around. Unfortunately for the young people of Valentine’s Bluff, their party is interupted by a killer wearing miner clothes and gear.

And things are more complicated when Sarah decides to take a trip down in the mines with some of the miners, Hollis (Keith Knight) and Howard Landers (Art Humphreys), and her friend, Patty (Cynthia Dale), and others. And the killer dressed as a miner is down there with them, leading T.J. and Axel to put their differences behind them as they attempt to save them.

Produced on a budget of $2.3 million, it came under fire because it was financed in part through the federally-funded Canadian Film Development Corporation, now called Telefilm Canada. It was shot in the Sydney Mines of Nova Scotia. The owners were so excited that a movie was going to be filmed they actually cleaned up the mines to make it look presentable only to discover the filmmakers wanted it to look more rundown. They spent $30,000 to get it to achieve the look they wanted.

Filming in the mines proved to be an issue as the methane levels affected how much lighting could be used. Producer John Dunning called the production “horrendous.” It would take an entire hour just to transport the cast and crew to the location about 2,700 feet underground. The identity of the killer was kept secret from the cast members to make sure the actors perform their roles in an ambiguous manner.

And the movie became an issue with the ratings boards as it was censored for its North American release. Dunning said the movie was “cut to ribbons” to get an R rating but still got an X. More cuts were demanded. A DVD was released in 2002 with the edited footage reportedly lost. However, a 2009 DVD/Blu-Ray was released with about two and a half minutes of footage added. However, George Mihalka has said that they had to cut 8-9 minutes to get the R rating.

There’s been some speculation that the cuts were made as the movie was released two months after the murder of John Lennon, who was fatally shot six times by Mark David Chapman outside The Dakotas where he lived in Manhattan. Others said Paramount Pictures, which distributed the movie, had been criticized for the violence in Friday the 13th and demanded more cuts.

Like a lot of other slashers for the era, it was heavily criticized in the media with noted movie critics dismissing it. However, Richard Zoglin of the Atlanta Constitution said the edited scenes of violence were “even tasteful” compared to other slashers. Yet, he still criticized the plot and characters. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave it two thumbs down. And while she criticized a lot of the movie, Linda Gross of the Los Angeles Times called the cinematography “sharp.”

Contemporary reviews have more favorable as it’s garnered a fan base with a 3D remake released in 2009 that is better in many years. A fan film titled Valentine’s Bluff and featuring Lloyd Kaufman, co-founder of Troma Films, in the cast, has been filmed reportedly to be released on Tuesday, Feb. 14 this year. Who knows how good it will be? But even Quentin Tarantino calls the 1981 original one of his favorite horror movies.

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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