My Bloody Valentine (1981)

tn_mybloodyvalentineI know Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that’s sort of made up to sell greeting cards, like Ziggy Day in May or Rehearsal Christmas in September. It’s based on an actual Christian martyr but the traditions got nothing to do that, it’s all a scam by Hallmark, the chocolatier lobby and Big Flower. Still, it’s enough of a real holiday to have a handful of slasher movies based on it, and therefore I am willing to acknowledge it.

The original 1981 Canadian production MY BLOODY VALENTINE is the most famous Valentine’s Day horror movie, but I actually never saw it until this year. I saw the 3D remake which was fun in 3D, but this one is different. It only has two Ds.

The story takes place in the small mining town of Valentine Bluffs. You’d think just because of their name they might make a little bigger deal out of Valentine’s Day than in other non-Valentine bluffs, but for the last 20 years that has not been the case. See, there used to be an annual Valentine’s Day dance at the union hall, but in ’61 Harry Warden cut out a couple people’s hearts and left them in candy boxes with notes saying not to ever hold the dance again. So they stopped doing it.

mp_mybloodyvalentineNot to defend Harry, who I personally feel was out of line, but there are some extenuating circumstances. The year before he was in a mine explosion, got trapped underground for like a week with 4 dead bodies (at least one of which he felt he had to nibble on) and came out of the experience perhaps not believing in that saying about “that which does not kill us.” He was in a mental hospital for a while and, in my opinion, was not cured. None of this would’ve happened if the mine supervisors had done their job and checked the methane levels, but they snuck off early to go to the Valentine’s Day dance. So Harry is a little sensitive about that stuff.

Well now it’s ’81 and the town is like fuck it, Harry’s been locked up forever let’s put hearts on every damn thing in town and get beer and dance and stuff. It’s our right. And it seems like a good plan until more hearts start showing up with more threatening notes about the dance. God damn it, Harry. We just can’t have nice stuff in Valentine Bluffs.

The killer is dressed as a miner, so he has a pick ax and a gas mask. It’s a pretty great slasher getup because it’s spooky and identity-hiding but also makes sense with the story. He would want to wear that while getting revenge for what happened to him in the mine. Also he’s got a light on his head so they get some mileage out of that. Whenever a flashlight appears you think it could be him at first, so there’s lots of false alarms there. And when they do the traditional killer-POV shots it allows everything he’s looking at to be lit.

This is a couple years after HALLOWEEN was a huge hit, and here we have another story where somebody that snapped and did murders on a holiday years ago now seems to have escaped the hospital and the sheriff is calling trying to figure out what happened. It also seems influenced by FRIDAY THE 13TH with its music (by Paul Zaza, PROM NIGHT) and its mystery. One thing that really makes it stand out from either of those movies though is that the sheriff smokes a pipe. That is a major highlight of this one. You just don’t see that enough in non-period pieces.

Apparently the movie had alot of problems with the MPAA, and a couple minutes was finally added back in in the latest release. One part that definitely had to be added back in (you can tell because the footage suddenly gets grainy) is a pretty great move where the pick axe goes through a guy’s head and pops out the other end with an eyeball stuck to the tip like a marshmallow on a stick. There’s also a really gruesome body that the sheriff finds in one of the dryers at the laundromat. That scene is kinda goofy because the sheriff zeroes in on little details like some of the heart decorations being upside down, but fails to notice a bloody dryer 2 feet away from him until it pops open on its own.

MY BLOODY VALENTINE is a pretty well-made and enjoyable slasher movie. And it has one pretty unique thing going for it, that it’s  set in this working class town inhabited by people who for generations have broken their backs and turned their lungs into dirty rags to make a living. That’s unique because so many slasher movies are about middle class suburbanites (HALLOWEEN, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, SCREAM) or visitors from out of town (FRIDAY THE 13TH, TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, THE BURNING, SLEEPAWAY CAMP, PSYCHO). Unfortunately I don’t like it as much as most of the ones I just listed, because I don’t think it does as good of a job of attaching the audience to the characters. Sarah (Lori Hallier) sort of seems like the lead, but she’s more passive than a Final Girl, and is mainly there to be fought over by her asshole sort-of-boyfriend Axel (Neil Affleck, no relation) and her back-in-town-after-mysteriously-leaving-for-a-while ex T.J. (Paul Kelman).

There are a ton of other people around, but none of them are really memorable, except there’s one dude that looks like John Candy with a goofy mustache. When all the young people decide to move their cancelled party to the mine his way of show that it’s “party time” is to start juggling. There’s also one of those Wacky Guy characters who’s always jumping in front of people making goofy faces and stuff like that. They have the Old Guy Who Gives a Warning (the bartender) who fills us in on the Harry Warden backstory, and everybody listens and then the Wacky Guy makes a fart noise.

Like in the lesser slasher movies there are characters that are first introduced when they’re about to have sex in a public place and then get killed. Like in HALLOWEEN the dude has to leave the girl alone so he can go get a beer… even though they’re in a mine. You’d think they’d have to bring it with them.

It was filmed in a real mine and that seems like a cool setting, but to me the movie starts to get a little more dull once they get down in there. I think maybe it’s because when you’re in a mine there’s only 2 possible directions the killer could come at you from. It gets kind of repetitive. But there are a couple good gimmicks, including (of course) a scuffle on rolling mine carts.

The final reveal comments on the endless cycle of revenge, or something.

Apparently while promoting DEATH PROOF Quentin Tarantino called this his current favorite slasher movie. I can’t abide by that in a world that includes HALLOWEEN, PSYCHO, THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE and etc. I can’t say I’m in love with this movie. I wouldn’t buy it flowers or nothin. Maybe ask it to dance if it was already there, but not take it there as my date, you know? I can’t lie, maybe I’d put my hand on its butt. I guess it would depend on how hard up I was at the time.

I don’t necessarily need it to be mine. You can have it if you want. But it’s pretty good.

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36 Responses to “My Bloody Valentine (1981)”

  1. I saw a similar movie once called The Prowler where a guy for literally no reason goes around stabbing people while dressed in creepy WW2 army fatigues

    then he gets his head blown off by a shotgun, ba-doom!

  2. This movie was shot in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, which isn’t too far from me, and you’re right that the working class atmosphere is the main thing it has going for it. It’s one slasher where you don’t get the sense that these kids will end up marrying a cheerleader or high school football star and end up owning a house in Beverly Hills someday. They’ll likely just settle into a job around town. The remake dispensed with all of this, and just looked like a 3D version of some CW soap.

  3. Yeah I watched this after seeing the infinitely better 3D remake (I assumed it would be like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, where the remake was interesting, but completely fucked up the intent of the much better original).

    Boy was I wrong.

  4. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 11th, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Sheesh. Guys, I gotta be honest, I don’t get the love for this movie. I think it’s terrible, and not in any interesting way. There is literally nothing interesting that happens in this movie. The directing is awful. The characters are awful. I hate their look. I hate how the whole thing comes off as a parody of a working class town (more on that in a second). I hate how the camerawork looks amateurish from start to finish. I hate the Friday the 13th-style score, which was cliche’d even then, and just sounds abysmal now.

    The “Harry Warden” stuff is tied into the main plot VERY loosely indeed and never reaches any kind of a satisfactory conclusion. The killer, as is usually the case with bad mystery slasher movies, has to be one of the two main guys because, hey, who needs more than two suspects in a whodunnit, right? But don’t worry, you’ll probably guess which one it is, you just won’t care. And I guess what Vern says about the “cycle of revenge” is true, but it just came across to me as a cop-out and an excuse for a last-minute twist that anybody who has ever seen a movie will see coming.

    This is one of my all-time least favorite “straight” slasher movies; although the recent remake is SO bad, it actually makes this movie look ok in comparison. Which is actually impressive. I give the original some grudging credit for not being mean-spirited enough to make a pregnant girl the only likeable character in the movie, and then have her killed off for no fucking reason whatsoever, like the remake did. Erm… good job on that one!

    Oh yeah… and on the subject of the setting…

    Look, I grew up in the Welsh valleys. It’s where I spent both my pre- and post-college days. This is, or was before Margaret Thatcher decided to kill off a large part of British industry, mining country. You want mining towns? We have nothing BUT mining towns. If there’s one location I know, it’s mining towns. “Bloody Valentine” gets it SO wrong, SO often, that I feel there’s something to be said for “Urban Legend” / “Urban Legend 2″‘s method of drama students making slasher movies about other drama students. At least they’re filming what they know. Because whoever wrote “MBV” knew jack shit about the working classes or mining towns in general.

    Ok, that’s my bitch over. I really, really dislike this film, just not as much as I dislike its remake. (Which I watched thinking, “well, it couldn’t be as bad as the original.” It now has a very high spot on my mental list of the worst films of the last decade, so I guess I should learn not to be so optimistic!)

  5. I thought the cast from 3D looked kind of rough for a CW show. Those kids aged badly.

  6. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 11th, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    “Yeah I watched this after seeing the infinitely better 3D remake.” – REALLY?

    Because I thought the remake had all the same problems as the original – terrible direction, moronic characters, nothing appearing genuine, etc – but added to it by being obnoxiously mean-spirited. The (utterly predictable) killing of the pregnant girlfriend didn’t just depress me, it made me angry at the movie. I really really really fucking hated that movie from that point. Venomously. I’d put it easily in the worst three movies of the last decade, with a strong claim to being THE worst. Seriously, there’s a lot of stinkers I haven’t seen, but I cannot imagine them being much worse than “MBV 3D”.

    “You’re right that the working class atmosphere is the main thing it has going for it.” – REALLY?

    …I mean, do you guys have a completely different working-class to ours? Because where I come from, everyone stays very much in their own “circle”, you don’t make eye-contact with your neighbours, and the police aren’t your uncle or the kid you went to school with, they’re some burly guys recruited from the biggest town, who probably drive twenty miles to work every day. Because you do NOT want to live in this kind of place if you actually have a decent-paying job.

    And people party all right, but there’s a desperate air to it all. It ain’t the happy kind of party, it’s the “drink yourself to oblivion and try and forget about your shitty job” kind of party. I did the factory run to put myself through college, guys. You don’t choose to live in a mining town. You stay there because you have family there or because you don’t have a way out. I had a way out. I was one of the lucky ones.

    I mean, holy fucking shit man, “working class atmosphere”? Are you for serious? What kind of working class are we talking here? Genteel rural?

    Jeez, you want to see a great horror movie about the working classes, go watch “Candyman”. Not this crap.

    Holy fucking shit.

  7. Griff – good point, THE PROWLER is the same year and basically the same story with the details changed. I could’ve sworn he had a motive, but I can’t remember what it was and it turns out that’s one of those reviews I thought I reviewed but apparently never did.

    Paul – I don’t know, I never lived in a town where everybody knew the sheriff, but don’t places like that exist? Maybe I’ve watched too many movies. MY BLOODY VALENTINE doesn’t seem like a grittily authentic portrayal of a mining town, but to me it doesn’t feel more phony than any number of other b-horror settings so it didn’t occur to me to be bothered by it I guess. I still think that having a different class and setting than most other slasher movies is a plus.

    I think CANDYMAN is an American classic (from a British director) but I don’t really see the comparison since it’s about the tension of well-meaning white academics endangering innocent people in the projects for their research. It’s from the perspective of the upper class people. Actually I think both movies used some of the real residents of the place they were filming as extras, but yes, CANDYMAN did a better job.

  8. Right on about the highly accurate Canadian / American / North American blue collar world MBV so nicely depicts. Truly what distinguishes it from standard horror fare; it’s one of those rare horror films about people who do tough, dirty jobs. I read an interview with the director once and he said that they were really inspired by The Deer Hunter. (And probably Jaws, too.)

  9. The movie is shot in a former mining town. It isn’t Welsh, and I have no idea if the police went to high school with the other residents, but location-wise this is how it looks. Rehydrate, dude.

  10. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 11th, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Yeah, sorry. Went a bit overboard there.

    That said, my view of MBV has always been that the setting is like a really bad parody of an idealised working-class mining town. I HATE the portrayal of the people who do the “tough, dirty jobs”, as JD puts it. I’ve done this work, as has pretty much everybody I know from my old home town. It’s not like that. The whole LIFESTYLE isn’t like that. It’s patronising.

    And you know what MBV comes across as, to me? A horror story like “Candyman” if it were told from the girl’s point of view, but played completely straight. There’s a gritty self-awareness about the whole thing, but it still comes across like some teenage drama students decided to make a movie about a load of working-class people without having actually met any of them.

  11. Vern – it’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen it, but from what I remember the plot was that this WW2 soldier was a “dear John” letter victim and when he got back home he murdered his cheating wife/girlfriend (can’t remember which) during some sort of dance, after which the town stopped holding this dance..

    so flash forward years later when for some reason they decide to start holding the dance again, just like MBV and wouldn’t you know it some guy in WW2 fatigues is stabbing people with a bayonet

    but here’s where it gets weird *SPOILER* at the end of the movie the killer is revealed to be the sheriff I think, but it’s not made clear if he’s the WW2 vet (he doesn’t look quite old enough) and if he is, why is he murdering all these random people that have nothing to do with his girlfriend years ago? it doesn’t make any sense why if he got away with the crime of passion years ago he would suddenly say “ya know, I’m gonna start murdering people for no reason because I’m bored of being a free man and the fact that they’re holding this dance that had nothing to do with why my girlfriend cheated on me just offends me SO MUCH”

    but again, it’s not even made clear if he IS the WW2 soldier! (although I guess you’re supposed to assume he is since where did he get the fatigues from), before he can have some speech about why he kills people he gets his head blown off by a shotgun, it’s almost as if the filmmakers thought “fuck it, who honestly cares? the movie’s over”

  12. All good, man. You may be right about how the people are in these towns. All I know is that it’s damp and cold and grey, and there isn’t a whole lot for a young person to do. The movie got that aspect of the atmosphere down well, which I felt was original for the genre.

  13. GrimGrinningChris

    February 11th, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Who the heck in CANDYMAN is “working class”? Maybe YOU have the skewed perspective on what “working class” is.

    ON that note… I actually really like MBV. I felt that the characters felt a lot more natural and authentic than those in most of the other slashers of the era (April Fool’s Day is another good one in that same respect). Loved the kills and the killer’s get-up. Very solid.

  14. Paul, I think the thing is I thought MBV-3D had a spirit of fun the original didn’t – maybe because it took advantage of the Milieu of 3. There was just nothing original about the first. Even the first kill just put me right off. Totally meh. Can’t say I ever thought about the small townery of it all. I might have thought more highly of the original if I’d seen the version with the eyeball on the pickaxe scene that Mr Outlaw described.

  15. I love this flick but of course it does have a few flaws. However, the positives outweigh the negatives enough in my eyes that I think it deserves a fairly decent spot in the slasher annals.

    It follows all the templates of the slasher which allows the audience a comfort; they know what to expect. This isn’t necessarily the case in this flick and I like how it plays with a few of the conventions. You already discussed, brilliantly, the killer’s disguise and how it is a multifaceted tool in this flick’s kit. On my first viewing, that miner’s mask definitely left an impression. I’ve always found gas-mask type of headgear to be totally menacing and enigmatic. Since I know I can’t be the only one who feels that way (many artists, such as Giger, incorporate the imagery for meta-textual meanings) it always make me wonder if we haven’t mass inherited a genetic fear of the gas-mask following Mssrs. WW1 and 2.

    Anyhow, I wanted to get deeper but now my girlfriend is making me trek to the 711 with her for “snacks”.

    Maybe I’ll get around to finishing up these thoughts. Anyhow, thanks for the insights as always Vern.

  16. “I’ve always found gas-mask type of headgear to be totally menacing and enigmatic.”

    oh me too, they’re also kind of badass looking

  17. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 12th, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Ok I will give the first MBV movie this – the killer manages, somehow, to be more genuinely threatening than the TF2 pyro. (That’s the only gas mask comparison I could come up with at short notice.) He moves and strikes fairly realistically and often without warning. So I’ll give it that. Although if you want to be genuinely creeped out by anonymous characters wearing gas masks, watch the Doctor Who zombie infection story “The Empty Child” / “The Doctor Dances”.

    Chris – you’re right about the “working classes” thing. Say “bottom of the social ladder” then.

  18. Griff I’m pretty sure that is the motive in The Prowler. I own it but haven’t watched it much. I don’t think it’s very good actually.

  19. The Prowler have a few of the best kills ever in a slasher: The opening pitchfork kill, the shower pitchfork kill, the knife through head, one great slit throat and the blown off head, a classic Tom Savini kill ala his death in Maniac. Even thought my favorite head being blown off is from Dust Devil.

  20. Paul, the town in MBV is not at the bottom of the social ladder. Enough with the screaming tirades. Those people have secure, working-class industrial jobs–maybe not the greatest jobs, but they’re making decent wages and bonded together by a sense of community. This ain’t Matewan. Maybe where you come from is a wretched pit of rural poverty, so much so that you compare it too the most desperate Chicago ghettos, but that’s simply not the case with MBV. It’s not the case with The Deer Hunter and Jaws, either, or Alien, another great genre movie about blue-collar workers.

    I grew up in a working-class town in New England that specializes in tough, dirty jobs, and it isn’t all miserable wage slaves trapped in drafty slums being harrassed by corrupt thuggish police. Lifestyles change from place to place, man.

  21. GrimGrinningChris

    February 12th, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Thanks, JD.

    Yeah, if Paul equates small town, blue collar workers in the same sect as the residents of Chicago’s toughest projects, then yeah… ummm, I dunno. Maybe he shouldn’t be casting accusations of sub par depictions.

    Not to stir shit… I agree with Paul sometimes, even some of his more “out there” opinions, but this just makes no sense.

  22. The one dude that looks like John Candy with a goofy mustache was also the friend of Spaz in MEATBALLS, Finkelstein. If I remember correctly, Finkelstein obtained self-esteem and other valuable life lessons by cramming wieners in his mouth. Apparently the actor ate more than 100 wieners while filming that scene. He was in dozens of movies up here in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s, three of which also had Spaz in them. He died a few years ago due to a non-wiener related illness.

    These days you probably couldn’t name a character “Spaz” in a movie.

  23. Weird, I just watched this on Netflix Instant (the R-rated version) the other day. I really don’t get the love for it other than the fact that once Quentin Tarantino says he likes a movie, people suddenly come out of the woodwork proclaiming their love for said movie. As is, it starts off fairly strong but as Vern pointed out, the final 1/3 or so in the mine becomes a tedious slog, and the proto-Scream whodunit plot fails since we don’t really give a shit, and both suspects act like assholes the whole time anyway. Plus the *SPOILER* fake death of the real killer is so unconvincing we immediately know it’s him once he “dies”.

    Oh and I think part of the love for MBV also comes from love of the band My Bloody Valentine, which I’m honestly not sure I’m sold on yet. I re-listened to two of their albums after watching the movie, and there’s definitely some hooks buried under the sludge, but it’s really hard to listen to. And not in the fun/charming Guided by Voices way, but in the “this hurts my ears, I kinda want to turn this off” way.

  24. I also wonder if My Bloody Valentine (band) got their name from this movie?
    neal, if you’re checking them out, everyone pretty much agrees that the Loveless LP is by far the best, after that the most accessible stuff is the Tremolo EP and probably Strawberry Wine. But I love all their stuff.
    I do think the movie has a strong enough premise that it would seem like it’d support more sequels/remakes/prequels than it has. Maybe there’ll be more to come after the 3D version. I mean, if they can make five FINAL DESTINATIONs, shouldn’t there be like at least three or four of these?

  25. I have only seen the remake of this one, but I have seen THE PROWLER and it has some memorable kills in it. The murder in the pool and the pitchfork in shower stand out in my memory. If you’re a fan of the genre and have not seen it I would check it out. It was in Netflix streaming at one point.

  26. Jek – thanks for the recommendation – I’ve been listening to the Tremolo EP all afternoon, and it’s definitely more poppy and accessible; kinda reminds me of that band Giant Drag from a few years back.

    Per Wikipedia, the band actually did get their name from this movie. What a random (and kind of mediocre) movie to pull your name from.

    Oh and btw, *SPOILER* did anyone else feel that the movie cheated with the reveal of the killer? I feel like he definitely was in two places at once towards the end, or at least had to change in and out of the miner’s costume a ridiculous amount of times to keep this ruse going for people he was planning to kill anyway.

  27. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 14th, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    JD and Chris – you have a point. Personal experience has definitely made me consider that particular type of community in a certain way – something you get the hell out of as soon as possible. So I might be judging MBV unfairly on that score.

    Plus, the remake is so horribly, irrevocably, incredibly bad – I mean, like, one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, almost on the level of “The Cell” or “Bad Boys 2” or “Buried” in terms of how much I hated the experience of watching it – that it actually makes the original look better in comparison.

    And I kinda liked the gas-mask killer. Some of the scares were pretty effective, and the guy could move. He’s not a lumbering oaf like the worst of the Halloween sequels or something. As per the usual thing nowadays, the killer sucked AFTER the reveal (kinda like a reverse “Friday 13th” there, where the film suddenly got good when Pamela Vorhees made her entrance) but he gave some good scares.

    And that is all the compliments I have for this movie because I hated the characters, I thought the plot was somehow both cliched and flawed, the whodunnit didn’t work, the acting was terrible, the fat guy was incredibly annoying, the guy who returns home was equally annoying but in a different way because he was obviously supposed to be relatable or something and just wasn’t, the setting looked like cardboard, everybody behaved like idiots, it did that thing where there’s a really obvious threat and yet everybody’s too self-absorbed to see it, and… oh fuck this. I could go on for pages and pages here. Let’s just say, it was really, really bad, to me.

    But the remake was still worse, by far. Actually, in a way, it’s worse than the likes of “The Cell” or “Bad Boys 2” because those were at least competently made in some sense – the director had a vision and stuck to it. Ok, those visions may have been – respectively – pointless child-abuse, and unending car chase scenes where you couldn’t tell what the fuck was going on; but still… you could tell that there was some idea behind those films, somehow. MBV 3D, I can’t even give that much credit. It was stupid beyond belief and stuffed full of downright hateable characters, wasn’t frightening, wasn’t atmospheric, wasn’t anything. It was just… nothing. I’d rather watch ninety minutes of an endless loop of Pepsi commercials, I think I’d get more from it than I did from “My Bloody Valentine 3D”.

  28. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    February 14th, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Weirdly, I agree with Jek here. I’d like to see a “MBV” movie done well. In case you didn’t gather from my previous post, I am not a great fan of the remake. I watched it because I thought it might be interesting enough to improve on the original in some ways. Didn’t anticipate, ever, that it would make me look on the original in a BETTER light. I’d still like to see a film that takes the basic premise and uses it competently. That’d be an interesting film.

  29. Wow! I’m mighty impressed the comments progressed to mbv the band. One of my favourite bands. Check out “soon” or the andy weatherall remix for most accessible stuff. You will not be disappointed. I saw them a couple of years ago in manchester. So loud my ears hurt for a week.

    I tried to watch the remake and it was atrocious. Vaguely remember seeing the original when I was seven or something. No lingering impressions though.

  30. I didn’t understand “Loveless” for years, every song sounds the same and has very little in the way of form.

    But I got it eventually. I would be hard pressed to name you a more obsessively produced album. Every single sound on it is fucked, and then when you listen more closely it’s not even a sound, it’s some weird composite of the spaces between two other sounds, or something. I mean it’s a lot of compression and recording onto tape and then fucking with the tape and then feeding it through some other shit, nothing The Beatles weren’t doing decades earlier, but with The Beatles it was in service of whatever little ditty* John Paul and George were using to one-up each other. In this case if you are coming looking for songs you are more or less bound to be disappointed. It’s like an optical illusion where if you look directly at it, it disappears. An Important Album.

    *I don’t mean to be too pejorative, just that The Beatles were a pop studio project and not, well, glorious noise.

  31. LOVELESS has been one of my favorite albums since as long as I can remember. It’s so fantastically dense you just won’t ever here rock that sincere anymore.

  32. *hear; jesus!

  33. Broddie, Renfield, and all the MBV fans here – just curious, how do you guys listen to them? I think part of the reason I find their albums so hard to listen to is that I may not be listening to them right. I know some people claim certain bands or albums need to be listened to on headphones, not speakers, or CD, not mp3, etc.. Then you get into the whole “headphones vs. earbuds” issue. I have certain albums/songs that sound FANTASTIC on big DJ-style headphones, and then other songs sound absolutely horrendous on the exact same headphones. It’s frustrating but also kind of cool that little things like that totally change our enjoyment of music (I guess it’s the same how some movies need to be seen on the big screen, others work better on DVD)

  34. That’s an interesting question. I listen to nearly all my music through a pair of decent stereo speakers. I used to be religious on the headphones, but there’s something about filling a 3D space with sound that has been more appealing to me for quite a while.

    That said, the other critical factor is that you gotta take an album in the car with you before you really know it. Not every band is Neu! (who made music to specifically correspond with the rhythms of driving), but I think it the fact that driving creates its own momentum tends to bring out the momentum that might be obscure in a piece of music. Or you know, take your iPod on the bus or whatever, same thing.

    As far as My Bloody Valentine goes, I literally have listened to the album maybe 3 times the whole way through. I have to be in SUCH a specific mood to do so. Consider another band more peripherally related to the shoegaze movement, Cocteau Twins. Now, I could listen to that shit all day, it has the otherworldly Elizabeth Fraser doing those ethereal duets/trios/choruses with herself. MBV doesn’t give you anything like that to latch onto. It’s not like an album where you can say “great singing” or “great guitar work”. I think maybe it works in a way that is somehow related to the whole Buddhist/LSD-casualty idea of ego loss. That in order to push towards enlightenment, MBV’s music has forget/forego the self. It would be easy to mistake them for psych rock or dream pop, but if that’s what you want out of it you’re gonna be disappointed.

    I dunno, usually I’d rather listen to Bongzilla or something instead personally. But I have developed a great respect for this band over the years.

    Final thought: Smashing Pumpkins was the one shoegaze band that sucked bad enough to be mistaken for arena rock. ZING!

  35. Listen to them on vinyl if you can, maybe that would help…

  36. Finally caught this one, did my Letterboxd hot take, then came here to see how much of a contrarian/gadfly I was being. Upon reading the review and skimming the comments, seems like my reaction was pretty typical. Palermo is on point here: the idea of the 20-something, non-college-bound working stiff is a nice, novel angle, even on top of the Canadian elements. Given its era, this film is not loaded down and wrestling with all the rust belt, neo-liberal deaths of despair / MAGA angst that has been commentaried to death. The issue here isn’t about how this town was ravaged and left behind by whatever combination of real or imagined cultural-economic boogeyman you prefer. No, in this rural mining town, jobs are available (if perilous!), a critical mass of your high school peer group has stayed behind, the good times they roll out your favorite watering hole, and there’s a shot at settling down with an acceptable mate into a stable-ish, tractable, lower-middle-class life. Just ask Madame Mabel or the sheriff — it’s a decent little community!

    In this film, blue collar small town angst is mercifully apolitical and more of a personal identity crisis. Is staying here settling? Is coming back here failing? Is this all there is? Might this actually be enough? This film entertains the possibility that there might be more than one plausible, economically viable, and socially acceptable answer to that question. There’s also some interesting layers to the love triangle element. And there are a couple of those kills where, heaven help me, I actually cared about the victimes. There was a poignancy and an innocence.

    So, there’s a lot to work with here, but ultimately the movie’s a bit too all over the place. There are plenty of manageably cohesive slasher film tone permutations on offer– serious (ANOES, HALLOWEEN), campy (JASON X, JASON LIVES), vaguely surreal (MBV3D), light-satirical (THANKSGIVING, VALENTINE). This film can’t quite find a consistent frequency. I have a feeling it may grow on me.

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