Movies & TV / Columns

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: My Bloody Valentine (1981)

February 15, 2017 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
My Bloody Valentine A Bloody Good Time

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #397: My Bloody Valentine (1981)

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that understands that reviewing a horror movie that takes place on Valentine’s Day after Valentine’s Day sort of defeats the purpose of reviewing it as part of some Valentine’s Day themed review scheme, but is okay with the way it all worked out anyway, the Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and ninety-seven, I take a look at the notorious slasher flick My Bloody Valentine, which debuted back in 1981.

My Bloody Valentine (1981)

MyBloodyValentine1981

My Bloody Valentine, directed by George Mihalka, is well known among horror movie nerds for being a movie that was seriously chopped up by the MPAA in the wake of the bloody cinematic carnage that shocked the world in the original Friday the 13th. Released by the same studio as Friday the 13th one year later, My Bloody Valentine was set to be a slasher movie with several inventive kills and plenty of gore. Instead, what audiences received was an almost bloodless slasher movie. It was okay and all, audiences seemed to like it (it did make around $5 million at the box office, which was double its budget), and it was in practically every video store back in the day. It also had a decent life on TV, despite the lack of blood and guts.

Now, back in 2009, when the big budget 3D remake was all the rage, the fine folks at Lionsgate released the original on DVD with the missing gore footage included. I remember reading in, I believe, Fangoria, that the producers still had the missing gore scenes, but I thought I would never see them. Even with DVDs filled with special features and boutique DVD labels specializing in cult movies, I still didn’t think the missing footage would ever officially see the light of day. Lionsgate managed to get that footage out to the masses, though, and the result is a better movie watching experience. As much as I like the 3D remake, I can honestly say that, while the remake is better than the originally released version of My Bloody Valentine, the uncut version is hands down better than both the original and the remake. In the big scheme of things, that would seem weird. The movie is only around three minutes longer than the original. Can three minutes really alter a movie and make it much, much better?

Yes, yes it can.

My Bloody Valentine stars Paul Kelman as T.J, a hip and edgy young guy who, after going out West to become somebody, ends up coming back home to work in the mine because, well, it’s pretty difficult to become somebody. Home, in this case, is Valentine Bluffs, a small town in the middle of nowhere that’s known for two things; a fully functioning coal mine and the legend of Harry Warden, the survivor of a mine collapse who, after resorting to cannibalism to survive inside the mine, went on a killing spree and forced the town to abandon its celebration of Valentine’s Day (the mine collapse happened on Valentine’s Day and Warden blamed the mine collapse on supervisors who left early to attend a big hooha Valentine’s Day dance at the Union Hall, and when Warden went on his killing spree he demanded that the town forever ban all Valentine’s Day dances). Twenty years later, Valentine Bluffs wants to get back into the Valentine’s Day celebration business by having a dance at the Union Hall. The Warden killing spree was two decades ago, Warden is locked up safely in a mental hospital somewhere, and it’s time to move on.

So everyone in town is getting ready for the big dance. The Mayor, Hanniger (Larry Reynolds), who also happens to own the mine, is excited because the town is about to do something fun (he’s working hand in hand with Patricia Hamilton’s Mabel, the owner of the local laundromat, who has an eye for holiday decoration). And everyone who works in the mine is happy, too, because now they can get drunk in full view of everyone else in town and it will be socially acceptable. Axel (Neil Affleck) will be going to big dance with Sarah (Lori Hallier), the town’s hot blonde. Sarah, however, used to be T.J.’s girlfriend, and with T.J. back in town Axel is worried that Sarah will lose interest in him and want to get back with her former boyfriend. T.J. would be okay with that, as it would give him something to do beyond mope around about how much his life goddamn sucks, but then Sarah doesn’t seem all that interested in getting back with him. At the same time, Sarah doesn’t seem all that keen on Axel, either. I mean, she’s with him, she loves him, but you get the sense that she doesn’t love him that much. She’ll probably stick with him, though. He did stay in town.

Now, while all of that is going on, a bloody human heart shows up in a box, freaking out both the mayor and police chief Newby (Don Francks). The bloody heart is a sign that Harry Warden could be back. But how the hell is that possible? Warden is locked up. Did he escape? What the hell is going on? Neither the mayor nor the chief want to cancel the big dance, but they know that if Warden is back, they may have to do just that. So both Mayor Hanniger and Chief Newby make an effort to find out what, precisely, is going on. It could be a goddamn prank or something. Shithead kids.

Obviously, since this is a horror movie, the bloody human heart in a box isn’t a prank, something seriously messed up is happening, and someone is killing people. And the killer, or killers (because that could be happening), is dressed up in a miner’s outfit (jumpsuit, helmet with a light on it, and a gas mask) that resembles the outfit that Warden wore back in the day. Is it really Harry Warden? Is it someone else?

The mystery of who, exactly, is killing people is what helps drive My Bloody Valentine’s story forward because you’re never quite sure if the killer is really Harry Warden or if it’s someone impersonating Harry Warden. Chief Newby tries to call the mental hospital Warden is allegedly locked up in but, for some reason, the officials there have no idea if Warden is still locked up or not. Did he escape and no one knows about it? If it’s a Harry Warden impersonator, who the hell is wearing the mask and all that? While everyone in the world likely knows who the killer really is, the big reveal at the end of the movie still provides a nice shock. I knew the ending ahead of time but I still went “whoa!” when the truth was revealed.

The friendship dynamic among the young people is better than in most slasher movies. It sure feels like they’ve all been friends for years and that they really care for one another. It is a little weird in that the young people don’t appear to be all that young (I’m guessing everyone is supposed to be in their early twenties but everyone looks like they’re in their thirties) and yet they’re all getting drunk in a junkyard practically every night. How many thirty year olds do that? Was it a late 1970’s thing that sort of bled over into the early 1980’s? The love triangle between T.J., Axel, and Sarah is also more interesting than you’d expect it to be. T.J. and Axel are clearly old friends, but because of their issues, they clearly hate one another. Their arguments in the mines are scary. They really could kill one another over Sarah.

The slasher scenes are well staged and, with the added gore footage, absolutely disgusting. There’s a real sense of sleaze throughout these scenes that makes them even more disturbing (Silent Night, Deadly Night has the same general feel). The actual gore, like the big scene involving a pickaxe through the chin and a dangling, bloody eye, will make you cringe. There are also two scenes involving severed arms that resemble Tom Savini’s work in Dawn of the Dead. Great stuff. As for the suspense, with the reintegrated gore there are actual payoffs to the stalking scenes. Amazing stuff.

The cast is excellent. Kelman, Hallier, and Affleck are outstanding as T.J. Axel, and Sarah. I can’t stress that enough, The standout performance, though, belongs to Keith Knight, who plays Hollis, the fat guy with glasses and a heart of gold. He isn’t a jerk, he likes to have fun, and he wants to be everyone’s friend. He also has a real sense for safety while working in the mine. When he takes his friends into the mine on a tour, he makes sure everyone knows how they’re supposed to behave inside. What they’re doing is against the rules and illegal and whatnot, but, goddamit, no one is going to die on his watch (from fucking around in the mine, that is. He can’t prevent Harry Warden from killing people). It’s also amazing how Hollis managed to score a hot babe like Patty (Cynthia Dale). Sure, it might be slim pickings among eligible males in town, but Patty really seems to be into him. How often do you see that kind of thing in a movie?

I also want to mention the hilarious bartender Happy as played by Jack Van Evera. He keeps telling everyone about the legend of Harry Warden and how they should heed Warden’s warning about celebrating Valentine’s Day. And Happy is a real asshole about it. I’d love to see a short film featuring Happy screaming at and insulting everyone in the bar. He looks like the kind of guy that would do that kind of thing. Happy’s attempted prank is also exactly the kind of asshole move an asshole like him would try to pull off. Great stuff.

I’m still surprised that there was never a My Bloody Valentine Part 2. In the midst of the slasher boom of the early 1980’s, you’d think there would have been someone somewhere that wanted a sequel (or even a prequel, although “prequel” wasn’t a thing back then). Even with the social backlash against slasher movies and all that, why didn’t anyone want to make a sequel? Yes, the ending doesn’t suggest an easy sequel, but, shit, someone could have come up with something.

The uncut version of the original My Bloody Valentine is a superb 1980’s slasher flick, a movie that all horror movie nerds should make an effort to see. The gore is good, the suspense is good, and the cast is excellent. A real classic.

See the uncut version of the original My Bloody Valentine. See it, see it, see it.

HarryWardenMyBloodyValentine1981

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 12

Explosions: One big one.

Nudity?: None, which is weird considering there are several instances of attempted sex.

Doobage: A pickaxe through a woman’s back, men kissing their girlfriends, a bloody human heart in a box, an old guy in a bar talking shit about “the 14th,” a flashback, exploding mine, cannibalism, a rampage, pickaxe to the chest bloody heart removal, lots of pipe and cigar smoking, more pickaxe death, girl talk, a burned up dead body inside a clothes drier, a cover up, attempted prank, pick axe up through the chin with a bloody eye removal, face boiling a very bloody heart box, Coca-Cola snorting, people making out on a bench, a dead body in the fridge, head impaled on a water pipe, mine train raiding, a full on panic, a funny jump scare, butt touching, light bulb breaking, off screen giant drill through the back, nail gun hooey, bitch slapping, a meltdown, log to the ribs, death by hanging that leads to an impromptu decapitation, pickaxe to the gut, a rail car chase, a pickaxe and shovel fight, boulder to the chest, bloody arm removal, and the set up for a sequel that never happens.

Kim Richards?: None, although, with the way that one flashback works, you’d think it was a possibility.

Gratuitous: Mine talk, miner gallows humor, men showering with other men, “guy talk” about banging women, people driving like idiots, air horns, a bloody head prank, knife hand trick, a very nonchalant medical examiner, people cooking TV dinners on hot car engines, harmonica playing, a “Kiss My Ass” hat, pickaxe hooey, a neck bandana, lime powder, and a great closing titles theme song.

Best lines: “The last one to town buys the brew! Let’s go!,” “Gretchen, you know what would look good on you? Me,” “Hi guy! Come on you clown!,” “You guys better put those things back where you found them or I’ll tear you both up, especially you,” “You in on this, Mabel?,” “Well, it’s a human heart, all right,” “Well, I wonder who sent this. Jake?,” “Hey, this is what I really call junk food,” “Maybe we oughta cancel the dance!,” “Oh, yeah, come on, man,” “There ain’t gonna be any fighting in my section, Palmer!,” “Hannigan! You and me have something to settle!,” “Do you remember this spot? Of course I remember this spot,” “You hear about Mabel Osbourne? She got it exactly like I said. Heart attack my ass!,” “Shut the fuck up!,” “Does anyone want a beer?,” “I’ve got the munchies,” “You didn’t stop the party. The party? What party?,” “Oh, man, the first time Ii try to snort Coke and I almost drown!,” “You sonofabitch!,” “Yuck! What is this?,” “You know the rule, no women in the mine,” “It’s so dark down there!,” “Dave is dead!,” “Hey, guys, where’s Mike and Harriet?,” “Harry Warden is at the mine!,” “Howard! You watch the girls! Oh, shit,” “Hanniger! I’ll be waiting in hell for you!”

Rating: 8.5/10.0

**

MyBloodyValentineDVDSE1981

**

**

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!

Please check out and “like” The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which is here. There’s stuff there now! Midnight trailers! 3 AM Joe Bob! And more!

MyBloodyValentineImpalement

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page! Yeah!

**

Things to Watch Out For This Week

StakeLand2

Stake Land II: The Stakelander: This sequel to the awesome Stake Land made its debut a few months ago on the Sci Fi Channel, so there’s a chance that many of you have already seen this. I recorded it but haven’t had a chance to watch it. I’m going to assume that because it debuted on basic cable TV the movie was edited for TV. This DVD will, no doubt, be unedited. This is a definite must buy. Anyone out there see this? Is it as awesome as the first one?

TheHorde

The Horde: I’m going to assume that this low budget action horror flick is a sort of zombie thing, or maybe a mutant vampire deal? The cast is phenomenal, with Paul Logan, Bill Moseley, Costas Mandylor, and Vernon “Bennett” Wells in it, so based on that cast alone The Horde is worth renting. The title is a little generic, but then that shouldn’t prevent you from checking it out. Because, heck, maybe The Horde doesn’t mean what you think it means, although we all know that it means exactly what you think it means. Ha. Rent it.

TheCrookedMan

The Crooked Man: This low budget horror flick also made its debut on the Sci Fi Channel a few months ago. The great Michael Jai White stars/appears in it, which is pretty cool considering White doesn’t really do horror movies. I’m going to assume that the premise of the movie is similar to all of that Slender Man bullshit? That’s what it sort of looks like. Anyone out there see this when it was on Sci Fi?

Freshwater

Freshwater: Zoe Bell and Joe Lando apparently star in/appear in this low budget horror flick about a killer alligator/maybe multiple killer alligators, which sort of looks okay. The fine folks at Wild Eye Releasing are, well, releasing it, so that’s kind of cool. Hopefully the monster looks good, or at least passable. The trailer really doesn’t show enough.

Abattoir

Abattoir: The great Darren Lynn Bousman directed this horror flick, which looks pretty slick. It also looks kind of creepy, which is always a plus, especially when the name of your movie is Abattoir. Lin Shaye is apparently in it, as is the great Michael Pare. Did this get an international theatrical release? It looks good enough to have been one. Anyone out there see this?

**

B-Movie News

JohnCarpentersHalloween

New Halloween coming! And John Carpenter approves!: The Halloween franchise, which has been in flux for several years now, will apparently be coming back in 2018 with John Carpenter on board as an executive producer/possible score composer alongside David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, the people behind Eastbound and Down. That seems like a weird collaboration, considering Green and McBride are more known for comedy that horror, but Carpenter liked their “take” on the property and is fully behind whatever it is they want to do. According to this article, the new Halloween will be a sequel to the first two movies and will pick up where the original Halloween II ended. The other sequels will apparently not fit into this particular story.

Is this a good idea? It could be. If Carpenter is actually involved, even as a producer, this new Halloween could be awesome. And since Green and McBride have gone on record as saying that they want to make a straight up horror movie, that’s also a confidence boost.

This new Halloween is expected to come out in October of 2018. Hopefully, if the script works and production actually begins (because, let’s face it, anything can happen between now and October 2018) we’ll find out more about what it is Green and McBride want to do.

Man, if this happens, the Halloween franchise will end up having five different versions of itself. The original 1,2,4,5, and 6, part 3 (which is its own thing), the H20 version (7 and 8), the Rob Zombie version, and then the Green/McBride version. Is that cool or is that insane? Or it is both?

FangoriaMagazine171 - Copy

Fangoria will never have another print issue: According to this article over at Bloody Disgusting, Fangoria as a print magazine is basically dead. You can read the article, which features remarks from a former Fangoria employee, and you can also read Fangoria’s official statement on the remarks here. The Fangoria statement seems to suggest that yes, the print magazine isn’t coming back any time soon, but the Fangoria brand as on online entity will continue into the future. No matter what the truth is, the reality is not having Fangoria as a print magazine stinks. I know that print is dying more and more every single day, but not seeing Fango on the shelf at my local bookstore is terrible, especially when Video Watchdog is now over and Rue Morgue has reduced its print issues to six a year.

Has anyone out there actually received or read one of Fangoria’s new “online only” issues? Do they even exist?

DontKillIt

Dolph Lundgren’s Don’t Kill It set for release on March 3rd!: Now, officially, Don’t Kill It will be receiving a “limited” theatrical release, but that doesn’t mean 1000 theatres across the country. If you live in a big city, like New York City, Los Angeles, or maybe Austin or a city like that, there’s a chance that you may have it play in a movie theater near you. Most of us will get a chance to see it via Video On Demand. And all of that will happen on March 3rd. Man, this movie looks awesome, and, heck, if it does well enough it could turn into a franchise of some sort. And let’s face it, the world as a whole needs as many low budget franchises as the B-movie world can produce. So check out Don’t Kill It when it comes out, maybe before or after Logan. It looks like a blast.

**

Who is the Douchebag of the Week? Go here and find out!

**

Next Issue: Black Guy on a Rampage!

**

Check out my review of david j. moore’s The Good, the Tough, and the Deadly here!

Check out my interview with the man hisself david j. moore here!

Check out the interview I did with the great Jino Kang here!

Check out my interview with character actor Vladimir Kulich here!

Check out my interview with martial artist and actor Paul Mormando here!

Check out my interview with director Michael Matteo Rossi here!

Check out my interview with actor Tyrone Magnus here!

Check out my interview with Hector Barron here!

Check out my interview with Jeffrey Orgill here!

Check out my interview with director Michael Baumgarten here!

Check out my interview with actor and stuntman R. Marcos Taylor here!

Check out my interview with action movie legend Don “The Dragon” Wilson here!

Check out my interview with Paul Kyriazi, the director of Ninja Busters and Death Machines, here!

**

Follow me on Twitter!

**

Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

My Bloody Valentine

Paul Kelman– T.J.
Lori Hallier– Sarah
Neil Affleck– Axel
Keith Knight– Hollis
Cynthia Dale– Patty
Alf Humphreys– Howard
Peter Cowper– The Miner and Harry Warden
Don Francks– Chief Nowby
Patricia Hamilton– Mabel
Larry Reynolds– Mayor Hanniger
Jack Van Evera– Happy

Directed by George Mihalka
Screenplay by John Bearid, based on a story concept by Stephen A. Miller

Distributed by Paramount Pictures, Paramount Home Video, and Lionsgate

Unrated
Runtime– 92 minutes

Buy it here