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My Bloody Valentine 3-D

I believe there are different levels of slasher movies. There are the masterpiece ones like HALLOWEEN and TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE – ingenious, masterful works of art that happen to be about weirdos on murder sprees. Below that there are the perennial favorites, not necessarily on the same level but that I like to dig out every few years: FRIDAY THE 13TH sequels, SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, THE PROWLER, BLACK CHRISTMAS, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, THE BURNING, SLEEPAWAY CAMP, that kind of stuff. The best in that category are the ones that really master the mechanics of the form. They have great chase scenes, new and innovative forms of fake violence, spooky atmosphere and imagery. And then they usually have an unexpectedly weird touch or two, a few clever surprises, and maybe some laughs (usually unintentional, which is kind of better because I don’t like alot of clownin around in my horror).

Since almost all of the best are made in the ’70s and ’80s I have to admit that part of the appeal is a certain vibe, a nostalgia for that time period and a reaction to whatever modern form of slickness has developed in horror movies since. So I think for me and even moreso for alot of my horror purist buddies the old ones can get away with a level of crappiness that the new ones can’t. I got buddies who will go on and on about hating the characters in some modern horror movie and not believe me when I try to tell them that almost all of their favorite slasher movies from the ’80s were inhabited by characters who were just as obnoxious, but with different clothes and hair.

My Bloody ValentineAnyway, below that are the ones that get by only on that vibe. You sort of enjoy watching them just for that feeling they give, but they’re not actually very good (some of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequels, most of the HALLOWEEN sequels, THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2, etc.). Or sometimes you only like them because they’re bad and you love them for it.

And then the lowest category I guess would be the ones that just aren’t enjoyable to watch at all, and that’s what you try to avoid, and what you expect from a slasher movie (or horror in general) these days.

Making a slasher movie today you can’t really aim for the top category, which is unattainable. And trying to come up with a new twist on slashers is very risky, it tends to lead to embarassing postmodernism (fucking BEHIND THE MASK: THE SQUIRM-INDUCINGLY AWFUL RISE OF SOME SKINNY JACKASS IN A STUPID MASK WHO HAS A GIRL’S NAME) or in a best case scenario a decent slasher comedy like SEVERANCE. I think the best thing to aim for is a FRIDAY THE 13TH 2-3 type movie that accepts its lot in life as a re-enactment of an old formula, and tries to give the audience an enjoyable night at the movies. MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D worked for me because, while it is not as good as those two, it definitely aims for that area (in 3-D!) and doesn’t land too far off the mark.

In the prologue we learn of a tragic Valentine’s Day mining accident with one survivor, who it turns out murdered the other miners with a pick-axe to conserve air. (Wonder if the 7 Dwarfs came to a similar fate?) Now the survivor/murderer is in a coma. But a nurse notices he’s out of bed, and we can see that he’s standing behind her.

Instead of showing us some violence now, director Patrick Lussier (DRACULA 2000… but he’s getting better) cuts to a few minutes later when the police arrive on the scene, and what we see (in 3-D!) is a cornucopia of mayhem – people cut in half, rib cages torn open, body parts laying here and there. The sold out audience of people-who-are-younger-than-me that I saw it with all laughed, and this is exactly the type of attitude you need to enjoy this movie. Next the miner heads for the tunnel where the accident took place, which has already been made over into a teen party spot, so it’s less than ten minutes in and we already get our third (first onscreen) massacre, which includes not only a 3-D eyeball-popping in the tradition of the classic FRIDAY THE 13TH 3-D moneyshot, but an even more audacious death involving the chance meeting between a head and the sharp edge of a shovel.

Now we skip ahead 10 years. One of the surviving partiers, some guy from DAWSON’S CREEK who looked too old to be playing somebody that age, now looks to young to be playing the sheriff. For some reason most slasher movies take place in small towns where everybody takes over their parents’ job and everybody knows each other. But apparently they don’t know each other that well, otherwise they’d know who it is going around in a mask killing everybody. Of course, something kicks off a new set of miner murders and it becomes one of those slasher whodunits with all the red herrings. Did that miner guy actually survive? Or is it this asshole sheriff? Or the great Kevin Tighe (TODAY YOU DIE), who seems nicer than he usually plays, and therefore might be hiding something? Or how about retired cop Tom Atkins (HALLOWEEN III, THE FOG, MANIAC COP, etc.), who gets an actual role and not just a cameo? Or maybe a girl? Or the kid? Or the dog?

The plot and characters are the usual, the important thing is the mechanics are there, and the payoffs. There are plenty of tense chases, people hiding around corners trying to be quiet, trying to block doors long enough to find keys to unlock windows to escape before the pickaxe cuts a large enough hole through the door to reach the doorknob. This miner pretty much sticks to the ax gimmick the whole time, but there are many variations which are especially effective in 3-D. The ax flies at us, it pokes through a window at us, it rests on the ground as our collective head is shoved toward it. The setting is varied – of course there are multiple chases through shadowy mine tunnels, but there are other locations too, most notably a closed grocery store (always a good place for a cat and mouse chase). Lussier was an editor on SCREAM and HALLOWEEN H20, so that may be how he knows how to make these scenes flow.

When it does slow down and people have to talk about different things that will lead to solving the mystery the 3-D helps pass the time. Did you know that windshields look really cool in 3-D? I don’t know why. And glass in general – windows, goggles on an evil miner’s mask, you name it. But really there’s not as much down time as in most slasher movies, so there’s no time for 3-D yoyos, joint passings or antenna adjustment. We do get a 3-D shotgun pointed at us and a 3-D tree impales a windshield. One of my aforementioned horror buddies balked at the use of a bullet time style effect, but I thought it was a cool gag and the audience I saw it with gasped at the bullet flying out into the theater like that fuzzy little alien did in CAPTAIN EO. Also of note, there is a domestic disturbance that leads to a naked lady running around in high heels pointing a gun at a trucker played by co-writer Todd Farmer (who I’m guessing deserves alot of credit for this since he wrote the also very fun JASON X).

I do want to emphasize that you must see this in 3-D. It’s a gimmick movie and it knows it. At home in standard-D it might be okay but only at a theater in 3-D will it be a great time for all. I still don’t buy the idea of 3-D movies being the future, but they are a great way to make moviegoing into an event again.

MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D is somewhere in the middle of my slasher movie scale, but it was fun enough to leave me wanting a sequel. (in 3-D only.) And although I didn’t give a shit about any of these characters I did kind of like the way the sheriff, an asshole who cheats on his wife with one of her own courtesy clerks, still proves himself repeatedly willing to sacrifice himself for her. I’ll be damned, I think that prick learned the true meaning of Valentine’s Day. In 3-D.

p.s. I can’t tell you where the original MY BLOODY VALENTINE falls on that scale. I couldn’t remember if I’d seen it or not, and after seeing this version I don’t think I have. Must’ve been confusing it with THE PROWLER.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 18th, 2009 at 2:05 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

37 Responses to “My Bloody Valentine 3-D”

  1. Just read this. Here’s a warning for anybody who might even be contemplating watching this film based on Vern’s review.

    I gotta say, having watched this purely on DVD, that I HATED this movie. I didn’t get the full 3D experience but to me it was the anti-Juno, in that I hated practically every character in it except the ones who were there purely as slash-fodder. The only two suspects were so unlikeable and devoid of interesting character traits that I really didn’t care which of them it was (they reverse the original film’s solution, if anybody’s interested). The kills were boring and repetitive, the setting was badly portrayed (I live in a mining town, this one looks like about as real as a Hollywood set with the plywood backing boards still in place) and the script was terrible. The solution to the “mystery”, if one could call it that since it’s evident from the opening who the killer is, could have been deduced by the investigator in five minutes flat if he’d only asked the chief suspect one obvious question after the first kill instead of staring him down and not actually asking him anything like he’s Al Pacino from “Heat” (a much better movie) or something. This would shorten the film (I won’t say “ruin” it, this thing is way past ruining) so, to keep it feature length, they have characters who shouldn’t be idiots act in mind-bogglingly stupid ways.

    Plus the least likeable female character in the film is the one we’re supposed to “sympathize” with. At one point she is in a scene with her husband’s pregnant mistress, and during this conversation, the killer turns up. The mistress is possibly the only character in the film to pass for “likeable”, so naturally she’s killed off while the “heroine”, who does nothing smart or appealing in the entire movie, ends up surviving. This is obvious, predictable, cynical, and unpleasant. There is no humor or self-awareness in this film. It is not tongue-in-cheek. It never rises to the level of “so bad it’s worth watching just to laugh at it”.

    Seriously guys, I try to avoid bad movies so I’ve missed a lot of stinkers, but of the movies I’ve seen, this one would easily be on my top ten worst movies of the decade. Yes, it’s worse than “Superman Returns”. Worse than any of the “Star Wars” prequels. Worse than “Speed 2”. Worse than “Cursed”. Worse than “Transformers”. I detested the first “My Bloody Valentine” and sought this one out only to see if it had improved on the original. (If you’re going to remake a film, remake a really really bad one that had unfulfilled potential.) Somehow it’s managed to make me look on the original “My Bloody Valentine” with nostalgia, which is quite an achievement.

    Also, I thought “Jason X” was a riot of laughs, and would never have guessed that the two films are written by the same person. How the guy got from that minor masterpiece of cheesy tongue-in-cheek humor and jump-scares, to this crap, I don’t understand at all.

  2. Sorry, should have posted a spoiler warning in that rant. Still, there is zero chance of you going fifteen minutes into either version of “My Bloody Valentine” and not knowing who the killer is.

  3. I don’t think I knew who the killer was. But I don’t remember who it was anymore.

  4. I kind of liked it, although watching it on bluray in 3-D just makes the background seem flat with “a pickaxe coming at you” effect every now and then.

  5. I don’t know, Paul, I actually love the way the movie draws the whodunit mystery out beyond all reason, until it becomes almost a parody of itself. It’s not a well-crafted mystery (and I don’t think it’s trying to be), but it has a lot of fun in the last act where every 30 seconds a new clue pops up to make one guy look guilty, but then another clue pops up and makes the OTHER guy look guilty, over and over again until Jamie King is standing there pointing a gun at both of them and they both seem equally guilty.

    It’s kinda like those Joe Eszterhas scripts like JAGGED EDGE or BASIC INSTINCT where there’s two plausible solutions to the mystery, and both have so many clues to confirm them that it finally becomes arbitrary which one is the solution; the movie could go either way and it wouldn’t matter. Only MY BLOODY VALENTINE has a little fun acknowledging its own absurdity, and builds to that great moment where the one guy gives up and tells her to just shoot both of them.

  6. Not worse than… SUPERMAN RETURNS! Oh, the horror!

  7. Hee hee Mr Subtlety, I detect a strong undercurrent of sarcasm in your last statement. Let me elaborate.

    I intensely disliked Superman Returns, not because it had no characters at all (like the Star Wars prequels, where every single human character acts and speaks in pretty much the same way) but because of what it did to the characters, actors, and iconography. It’s not a bad enough film (although it’s still pretty bad) to be ranked alongside the likes of “Speed 2” or the prequels. What makes me dislike it as much as I do is that it takes so many things that should have worked on paper, and then sucks the life out of them. Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor? Throw in some terrible acting and direction and a couple of comedy sidekicks, and what should have been “iconic cinema villain” becomes “easily the worst Spacey performance of his career”. Lois Lane is a charmless, ungrateful, whiny little annoyance who leaves her boyfriend (the one likeable character in the entire film) for Superman (who’s now apparently become an absent father who doesn’t care about the problems his own son is going through), who then promptly abandons her AGAIN. Heck, even Superman 3 and 4 couldn’t make me dislike Superman as a character. It took the “reboot” for that to happen.

  8. Only took me 8 years but I finally saw this one, and it’s pretty good. I appreciated its lack of irony/meta/deconstruction/wankery, in a genre that doesn’t require reinvention, just adherence to nudity, gore, red herrings and B/C-grade acting.

    Also, I happened to watch Lussiers DRACULA 2000 around the same time, and I didn’t hate it. For some reason the title comes up on screen as Dracula 2001, so either a typo, or they intended to make Dracula go to outer space as an homage to Kubrick. Maybe not the second one.

  9. I just watched Dracula 2000 and my opinion is a lot different than yours. I thought it suuuuuucked.

  10. It’s no FFC’s BS’s DRACULA, and it apes THE MATRIX and BLADE’s style to lesser effect, and Butler definitely sucks, but it’s got a lot of energy and 90’s nostalgia (the girl protagonist works in a Virgin record store, remember those?).

    I’m actually more curious to watch the 2 sequels with Jason Scott Lee as Dracula and Roy Scheider and Rutger Hauer thrown in. Hopefully they’re as hammy as fuck.

  11. I liked the 3rd one with Hauer as Dracula cause it actually felt like a Dracula movie.

  12. I finally watched this one and the original during last October’s horror viewing party. I enjoyed both of them with an edge going to the original. Though like BLACK X-MAS I appreciated that VALENTINE 3D was a legit slasher and not meta or trying to over-compensate for it’s genre. That said I always had a grudge against this one because the trailer looked so cool and at the time none of our theaters where 3D equipped so it was shown 2D only down here so I didn’t bother seeing it till last year. The kicker, we got 3D setups the very next month in time for that Jonas Brothers (remember them?) concert film. I could never forgive the movie for coming out a month too early.

    Only saw DRACULA 2000 once when it came out on video. I remember not liking it almost at all. Though having just finished playing RESIDENT EVIL VII, I’m in the mood for more Louisiana-set horror so I may give it a rewatch. I never watched the DTV sequels despite Jason Scott Lee and Rutger Hauer.

  13. SPOILERS, of course…

    I finally watched this yesterday and still have not watched the original.

    This is a pretty great slasher film. Here’s what it has going for it.
    -The miner suit is an utterly bad-ass slasher get-up, particularly the breathing mask and pick-axe
    -Over-the-credits newspaper-clips-and-soundbites scene that unloads a ton of “legend of the miner killer” exposition with great efficiency. The exposition doesn’t even slow down the credits themselves
    -There is some good suspense and grisly kills within just a couple minutes in, and before 10 minutes are up this guy has murdered an entire hospital
    -There are many other grisly kills and some decent stalking suspense scenes throughout. The pick-axe is used to great effect.
    -Always love seeing Tom Atkins and Kevin Tighe
    -Mining town is a nice, different setting, and the mine itself is a pretty inspired claustrophobic stalking space
    -A solid cast of moderately likable and engaging 20-something protagonists. None of these folks are great, but I was rooting for the main guy and gal (Ackles and King).
    -The film also delivers some of the sex appeal aspect of the classic, less-cerebral slashers of the 80s.
    -Decent twist at the end.

    This is not a great film, but I think it’s a great deal of fun. I regret not seeing it in the theater in the 3D. There are many scenes where they were clearly trying (and from what I can infer, succeeding) to deliver a great 3D experience, and some of it translates poorly to 2D, but it didn’t bother me too much. Even though I could not enjoy the 3D, I could appreciate what they were trying to do with it, and that only enhanced my goodwill for this. I think what I appreciate most about this film is that it unabashedly aims to deliver a completely un-pretentious, un-meta, pre-post-modern throwback slasher romp. No delusions of grim nihilistic grandeur, no wink-wink references or jokiness. Just a crazy dude in a suit and mask with a backstory and a pick-axe who is slashing people, some of whom are naked or wearing tight shirts.

    Stray Thought: Jaime King has got kind of a Lindsay Lohan (without all the baggage) thing going.

  14. I saw this in 3D with special guest Tom Atkins so I always will have fond memories of this one. I would like to watch it again. Probably this October.

  15. Between this and VALENTINE, we now have what are imho two solid Valentine’s Day-themed slasher films that have repeat-viewing value. As of a month ago, I had mostly forgotten that there even were multiple Valentine’s Day slasher films, much less that they might be worth owning and making an annual tradition. And I haven’t even gotten around to the original MBVD yet!

  16. I’m still completely skeptical about Valentine but it’s still on the October horror movie watching docket.

  17. Valentine’s Day also figures prominently in the demented South African weirdie HOSPITAL MASSACRE.

  18. Zero, I had not heard of that one. The hits just keep on coming!

  19. Stern, even if you hate VALENTINE, I’ll be curious to understand why. I think there are enough things that work very well to put it in the upper half of slasher flicks of the last 20 years. Not saying it’s an all-time classic, just that it acquits itself pretty well relative to that competition. That is also a big part of the appeal of MBV 2009. It earns a lot of points just by existing, getting a theatrical release, and being competent.

    I mourn the loss of the slasher film.

  20. It has to work better then I Know What you Did Last Summer and Urban Legend. Man, fuck Urban Legends. That movie sucks ass.

    They still make slasher movies, btw.

  21. VALENTINE is directed by the same guy who did URBAN LEGEND and is only about half as good, but I have a wide pain threshold for late 90s teen slashers so I dig ’em both.

    As far as the slasher film being dead – though I suppose they may be more slasher adjacent than original formula, I think Rob Zombie’s H2 or whatever it’s called and YOU’RE NEXT are better than anything outta the late 90s minus the first first SCREAM, and even some mercenary bullshit like UNFRIENDED made for an effective gimmick slasher-style horror flick, depending on your tolerance for millennial-baiting drivel. And people forget that even during the late 90s revival there were only like what, 8 or 9 flicks that even got a wide release? Per capita there’s probably more slasher movies being made now than at any other point since 1981…

  22. What are good or watchable slasher movies released 2010 or after other than YOU’RE NEXT (which I’ll grant was well-received, though I personally had a bit of trouble getting into)?

    Zero, wow, interesting to hear that you preferred URBAN LEGEND to VALENTINE. I just can’t see that. VALENTINE is full of weirdness, has some good inventive kills, an inspired and strange central slasher character, and a fun cast with some good chemistry. Although I give it credit for a couple of semi-inventive kills, I was utterly bored by URBAN LEGEND. I felt the cast was completely forgettable and un-inspired with zero charm or chemistry. Jared Leto is just a flat, blank slate of a douche, but not a love-to-hate-him douche. Just an empty vessel. The final reveal of the killer’s identity was beyond the pale insulting as far as suspension of disbelief that this person could have handled the victims the way the film would have us believe (even granting the broad license that I normally do to a slasher film). URBAND LEGEND’S pre-reveal killer was utterly generic and non-descript and not particularly menacing: a dude in a goose down jacket that we rarely see stalking or lurking or doing anything. He’s almost always off-camera or minimally shown even when on camera. And the campus environment seemed under-developed. This is kind of a minor point, but I’d like to see them use the campus as a memorable or interesting environment (as a “character”), but instead it seemed like most of the kills happened at random, off-campus locations of no particular significance or distinctiveness, and the campus itself was nothing more than a couple of random, infrequently featured buildings. I bought the thing last month expecting it to be some good exploitation trash fun, but the film has no charm, pizzazz. I just can’t see it, but to each his/her own.

  23. The opening kill makes no sense and involves some but of psychic planning for it to make sense.

  24. Stern, you are talking about URBAN LEGEND, right? I agree.

    Also, zero, I’m not trying to browbeat you above. I’m past the point of trying to convince people of my aesthetic opinions, which shift over time more than I’d care to admit. I’m genuinely curious to learn what resonated with you about URBAN LEGEND, as it may have just been my mood or something subtle that I missed that would increase my appreciation for the film.

    Right now, I’m working through TERROR TRAIN, which is light on gore, but is fun. I’ve also started URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT (aka URBAN LEGEND 2). Will report from the front once I’ve finished up. I do think TERROR TRAIN is worthy of some Vern slasher search coverage, unless he’s already reviewed it, and I somehow missed it.

  25. I’m a huge slasher film buff yet for some reason there are a bunch of classic slashers I have never seen. Terror Train is one of them but the 24 Hour Horror marathon will be showing it this year so I’ll be seeing it then.

    I think I’m going to do like a 90s – 00 Slasher movie watch this October I think.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Slasher_films_by_country

    BTW, I have seen Urban Legend 2, I forget most of it, but I remember thinking it was boring.

  26. TERROR TRAIN isn’t great but is interesting to scholars in the pantheons of Jamie Lee and Canadian slasher movies. I remember finding out some weird stuff about a few of its cast members lately (one died mysteriously, one was a neighbour of a well-publicized killer from a couple years ago).

    UNFRIENDED is also just okay, but if the exact same movie were released twenty years ago it would be a science fiction masterpiece.

  27. TERROR TRAIN is very well-made for what it is (the director was Roger Spottiswoode, who would go on to become a semi-reliable journeyman director of middlebrow studio fare, including one of the Brosnan Bonds) and its gimmick (killer takes the Halloween mask of each successive victim) is still novel all these years later. You could build a whole new slasher movie out of it without even re-using the train location. There’s also some retroactive novelty in the killer’s identity.

    It’s way better than fuckin’ PROM NIGHT is what I’m saying. You could do a lot worse.

  28. Also congratulations to Mr. Spottiswoode for becoming successful despite his hilarious name and having STOP! OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT on his résumé.

  29. Ha! Plus, TERROR TRAIN and URBAN LEGENDS both feature none other than Ellis, our man Hart Bochner.

  30. I’m going to publicly reverse on YOU’RE NEXT and say it’s a very good gory, atmospheric, horror crime suspense thriller deal. I must not have been in the right frame of mind the first time I tried it (and didn’t finish it), but second time was the charm, as I had a blast with it today. Still don’t think it qualifies as a true slasher film, and I stand behind my earlier challenge of “Anyone, please, someone, name a legitimately good or at least entertaining 2010-and-beyond slasher film with an actual central slasher guy?” But YOU’RE NEXT is all right in my book, after all.

  31. I haven’t watched Valentine yet. I will tomorrow. I just watched MBV for the first time since if came out. It’s hands down, imo, the best slasher film since the new millennium.

  32. I watched Valentine. I would agree that it’s on the upper half of the slasher spectrum of the last 20 years. I don’t think it’s near as good as MBV but I think there is a wider variety of kills. There were times that the film drags. The killer is pretty good and I liked the mask. I didn’t see any of the weirdness you were talking about. It was all pretty straight forward stuff. I think I remember when it came out there was some confusion on whether or not Adam is the killer or not but it’s pretty clear. So I didn’t love it like you did but I certainty think it’s better than people gave it credit for.

  33. “I’m still completely skeptical about Valentine” – Sternshein.

    Welcome to fold, my friend!

    The opening flashback scene was pretty weird, I thought. The mask and the bloody nose thing was pretty weird, I thought. The characters were all a little off-base. The art installation setup was strange. The characters all seemed a little off-kilter and unreal, I thought. They seemed to live in this otherworld. Kind of a strange BEVERLY HILLS 90210 rich kid vibe, especially the one rich girl’s house, which felt like this kind of CLUE! mansion. The impotent huckster/bounder guy. He was odd. It wasn’t like SLEEPAWAY CAMP deliberately incompetent weird or art house auteur Lynch/Aronofsky weird. Just quirky and had a certain panache. The characters had personality and eccentricities, and the relationships among them had some subtext and intrigue. There was a pervasive sense of sardonic irony, but not in the meta-on-the-nose fashion of a SCREAM. The kills involved various inspired implements. There are a lot of quirky interactions that seem wholly unnecessary to the plot, like the Denise Richards abortive blowjob scene or the cop trying to hit on one of the women.

  34. I liked it but in not for any of the reasons why you like it. Skani, when did you graduate high school? Wondering if we are same age or not.

  35. I am between the ages of 37 and 42.

  36. You mean to tell us your age is fluctuating? Is it recession proof?

  37. My mental age is fluctuating.

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