In 1981, every single studio in the world were looking for their own horror movie success story. Slasher movies were cheaply made, garnered a lot of money, and was often used as a means of getting a tax break or two. Canada entered the arena of holiday oriented cheaply made slasher films with “My Bloody Valentine.” Although it’s often ignored when spoken in the same breath as “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th,” it’s easily one of the best, most unnerving slashers ever made, and one that even garners a brutally underrated remake, to boot.
Twenty years prior in the sleepy mining town of Valentine Bluffs, a fatal mining disaster occurred on Valentine’s Day while key members of the crew were decorating for a party. The sole survivor of the accident killed the absentee crew members and warned the town never to have another Valentine’s Day celebration. With the memories still lingering, a group of teenagers decides that the town has gone without a Valentine’s party long enough and begin planning one of their own. Much to their horror, though, a murderous maniac in mining gear begins dispatching townsfolk in bloody and creative ways.
George Mihalka’s slasher thriller is a genuinely creepy genre entry that successfully evokes the atmosphere of timeless folklore. For a movie made in 1981, “My Bloody Valentine” hasn’t aged all that much, building some complex characters we can root for, and making great use of its mines, that are the centerpiece of the movie. The mines are used as a dominant set piece primarily to save money, one can argue, but the claustrophobic labyrinthian mines being stalked by the masked murderer amounts to a spine tingling ghost tale in the end.
The mines manage to become a menacing presence in the vein of “George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead,” especially when it’s tough to really figure out where characters are within these tunnels. The killer in the film is a cunning maniac, and one who is committed to damaging every single element of Valentine Bluffs, even if it kills him. It’s the kind of metaphor about small towns hiding big secrets that keeps the big question mark ending a great book end that will inspire some goosebumps in the process. You kind of almost want to see where it goes next, but you’re also kind of happy we never find out, either. That’d ruin the mystique.
Shout! Factory rewards fans with a wonderful Collector’s Edition that not only touches up the final film, but offers up the Extended Cut and Original Cut of “My Bloody Valentine.” The Extended Cut is two and a half minutes longer, adding more grue and exposition for folks that wanted a meatier movie. Along with an Intro from “My Bloody Valentine” director George Mihalka, there’s also a full audio commentary from the director. There’s the forty six minutes “35th Anniversary Cast Reunion,” which visits the 2016 Bay of Blood horror convention in Tampa, Florida, where select members of the “My Bloody Valentine” cast and director Mihalka take the stage to share anecdotes concerning the making of the picture and its cult status.
Also included on the panel are Rob Stein, Thomas Kovacs, Peter Cowper, Helene Udy, Alf Humphreys, Lori Hallier, and Jim Murchison. There’s the five minutes “Thomas Kovacs Performs ‘The Ballad of Harry Warden’,” which returns to the Bay of Blood, with fans decorating a conference space to resemble the Valentine’s Day party that never was, joined by Kovacs and a few other actors to serenade the dancing conventioneers. The Disc for the theatrical cut features the twenty four minutes “My Anemic Valentine,” which returns to Mihalka, who discusses topics like the project origins, the mystery of the killer’s identity, the backstory of T.J. and his unexplained absence, challenges working inside a real mine, deleted scenes, MPAA battles, and much more. It’s a great listen to Mihalka reflect on his most famous creation, which he’s once denied adamantly.
“From the Heart” is a fourteen minutes interview with actor Paul Kelman, who discusses topics like the mystery of the killer’s identity, the backstory of T.J. and his unexplained absence, mine experiences and environmental challenges, fight experience for the climactic scene, memories of deleted moments, reflection on character choices, and more! “Axel, Be My Bloody Valentine” is a fifteen minute interview with actor Neil Affleck, and his topics include the mystery of the killer’s identity, his respect for Peter Cowper (who actually portrayed The Miner), memories of deleted scenes, filming locations, the challenges of working inside a real mine, his relationship with Mihalka, feelings on the Canadian horror boom, the cult legacy of “My Bloody Valentine,” revisiting the movie with his kids, thoughts on the remake, and memories of Alf Humphreys.
“Friends of Mine” is a nineteen minutes interview with actress Lori Hallier, and topics include the mystery of the killer’s identity, filming locations, the challenges of working inside a real mine, memories of deleted scenes, her relationship with Mihalka, et al. “Becoming Sylvia” is a seventeen minutes interview with actress Helene Udy, and topics include the mystery of the killer’s identity, filming locations (which didn’t include any time in the mine), her approach to a death scene, working with practical effects, and more. “Broken Hearts and Broken Bones” is a ten minutes interview with special makeup effects designer Tom Burman, who shares the story of his initial hiring for “My Bloody Valentine” and his work in Canada, his distaste for slasher films, and more.
“The Secret Keeper” is a twenty seven minutes interview with actor Rob Stein, who discusses his initial hiring, the mystery of the killer’s identity, filming locations, memories of deleted scenes, his prior relationship with Mihalka (playing a small role in the helmer’s previous movie, “Pick-up Summer”), and more. “Holes in the Heart” offers a side-by-side comparison of the Theatrical Version and the Uncut Version, detailing just how much the MPAA gutted “My Bloody Valentine” before its initial 1981 release. Finally, there’s an original Still Gallery, Two Radio Ads, TV Spots, and finally the original theatrical trailer.