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My Bloody Valentine


Title: My bloody Valentine
Year Of Release: 1981
Running Time: 93 minutes
DVD Released By: Lionsgate
Directed By: George Mihalka
Writing Credits: Stephen A. Miller, John Beaird

Starring: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck
Taglines:
1. Harry's out to steal your heart.
2. Cross your heart...and hope to die.
3. This Valentine's Day, romance is DEAD.
4. There's more than one way to lose your heart...
5. Valentine's Day will never be the same again...
6. Heart. Burn.
Alternate Titles:
The Secret

Review Date: 2.8.10

Shadow's Title: "Canadian Cardiac Capers"

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My Bloody Valentine (1981)

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My Bloody Valentine (1981)

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Characters
Jessie "TJ" Hanniger - TJ left town at some point in the past in order to make it on his own out West. He failed spectacularly and was forced to return home, where he has to work in his father’s mine and then learns that his formal girlfriend Sarah is now dating his old pal Axel.
Sarah - She was heart broken when TJ left town without bothering to tell her if he’d be back. Since he never called or wrote, she began dating Axel and things were fine until TJ returned. Now she’s quite confused, not sure which of the two men she really wants to be with in the long term.
Axel Palmer - He works in the mine along with the others and is not really happy to see TJ return to town. He has no intention of giving Sarah up so that TJ can have her back, so this leads to he and TJ clashing on more than one occasion. Sometime with harsh words, sometimes with fists.
Mayor Hanniger - TJ’s father. Not only is he the Mayor of Valentine’s Bluffs, he also owns the local coal mine that employs half the population. I think he has a little too much power in that community for one guy. He loves to smoke big cigars. Since this is Canada, they could be imported Cuban.
Chief Jake Newby - The head of the local law. He has a tendency to walk around smoking a pipe quite a bit. He tries to cover up the very first murder so that it won’t lead to a panic in town. Of course, if he’d let people know what was going on, more people would have survived the film.
Mabel Osborne - She owns one of the local businesses, a laundromat. She also heads up the town’s decorating committee, so she’s probably responsible for the plague of red and pink paper strewn about town. Maybe that’s why the killer decided she needed to be offed first.
Hollis - He works in the Hanniger mine. He seems to be one of the more levelheaded guys, trying to keep the peace between TJ and Axel. Naturally, he still drinks like a fish and smokes like a chimney. In the end he gives “getting nailed” a new, and not nessecarily good, meaning.
Patty - She is Sarah’s best friend as well as being Hollis’ girlfriend. Since she is not the main heroine, that means that by film’s end she has assumed panicked woman duties and is busy losing her grip on reality rather than act sensible and run from the killer.
Howard Landers - Howard is new to working at the mine, so the others do things like leaving him at the bottom and letting him find his own way out. He takes it good naturedly as he is the resident clown among the group, always acting goofy and stupid. Naturally, he has no girlfriend.
Happy - A former mine worker that now runs the local watering hole, The Cage. Despite his nickname, he is actually quite the grumpy old fart and is constantly warning the young people about the dangers of ignoring the legacy of Harry Warden. When they don't listen, he gets grumpier.
John - He’s one of the locals that also works in the mine. He and his girlfriend, Sylvia opt for a little alone time while at the big Valentine's Day party. Hoping to get a little sex action, he leaves her so he can retrieve some beer. Returning, it’s clear he’s gonna have to find a new girlfriend.
Sylvia - This would be John's girlfriend. Because of her desire for more beer, he leaves her all alone for a short while in order to get some. During this time, the Killer Miner finds her and decides that she really needs a shower. Well, more like she really needed to be a shower.
Dave - He’s one of the town’s youths. He doesn’t work in the mine and talks about getting out of town as soon as he can. No doubt because he thinks the place is a dead end. Well, it is…at least for him it was, after he has a fatal encounter with a pot of boiling water.
Tommy - Another one of the guys in town. What he does is never revealed, though like Dave, he does not work in the mine. Unlike unfortunate Dave, Tommy here manages to live through the entire film, though with some spots opening up at the mine, he may have some new job opportunities.
Mike - Yet another one of the guys that works at the mine. He takes a liking to local barmaid Harriet. While at the big party, she shows off her abilities at pool so he decides to get her alone in the mine, no doubt hoping she handles his own cue and balls with the same skill.
Harriet - This poor young woman works for Happy at The Cage. When not the subject of bawdy drinking songs, she is the object of several men’s lusty desires. Too bad for her that it is Mike she cozies up to. The two then get screwed. No, they don’t screw, they get screwed. Fatally.
Harry Warden - Twenty years ago, an explosion stranded five men in the mine. Two weeks later Harry was the only one pulled out alive, having survived by eating the others. Later, he kills the men he blames for the accident and warns the town to never have a Valentine’s Day dance again.
The Miner - For the first time in twenty years, the people of Valentine’s Bluff plan on holding a Valentine’s Day dance. Soon enough, the murders and the warnings begin. Who is the mysterious Miner that’s killing people? Is it Harry Warden, back after all this time, or someone else?

 

The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

Other possible band names derived from 1981 slashers are “The Final Terror,” “Hell Night,” “Funhouse,” “Humongous,” ‘The Burning” and “Dead Kids.”Two figures walk down a dark mine tunnel decked out in full mining gear, which includes gas masks. After a few twists and turns through the dark passages, they stop. One of the figures begins removing their mining suit and we see that this is a blonde woman with very little on underneath aside from her bra. We note that she has a tattoo of a heart just above her left breast. The other figure - a man no doubt, judging by his size – swings his pickaxe into the wall behind her and leaves it stuck there, one point sticking out. Then he focuses his attention on the blonde, but does not remove his own mask or suit.

After ogling her breasts and copping a feel, he pushes her hard against the wall. Normally, this isn’t much of a problem for people, but when that wall has sharp objects protruding from it, it’s a much different story. She becomes impaled on the pickaxe, the point exiting her chest right through the heart tattoo. Talk about good aim on the part of the killer! She opens her mouth and screams loud and long, and then we fade out to the title screen.

Text on the screen notes that it is Thursday, February 12th.

We fade in on the Hanniger mine, where the duty shifts are changing. A train of railcars ascends out of the dark, carrying a bunch of dirty workers ready for quittin’ time and a round of Budweisers. Well, since this is Canada, make that a round of Molsons. Among the workers are TJ, Axel and Hollis. They joke with the foreman, saying that they left Howard Landers and the other apprentices at the bottom to find their own way back up. As they file out, they bitch to one another about methane pockets that will blow the mine “to shit” one day.

Before they can hit the town for a night out, they have to get cleaned up after their long shift in the bowels of the earth. This means they all take a shower in a large communal shower room. I don’t know about you, but I do not EVER want to shower with any of the guys with which I work. I just don’t feel the need to know any of them that well.

As the group bathes, Howard joins them, having hauled ass up from the lower levels of the mine. After an uncomfortable moment where the recently-returned-to-town TJ is reminded that his ex-girlfriend Sarah is now going out with Axel, the gang jump in their threads and make a mad dash for their cars, since the last one to town gets to buy the beers. Apparently, no one is willing to part with that much of their cash, as several guys are still pulling on their pants or putting on shoes as they hop through the gravel parking lot to their vehicles.

They race into the town of Valentine Bluffs – the little town with the big heart, soon to be the little town with lots of dead people - accompanied by some music best suited for a Smokey and the Bandit sequel, or something else set in the American south. As they all come tearing into town, we see that the main street is decked out with lots of Valentine’s Day decorations and a large banner strung across the street advertises the “Big Valentine’s Dance.”

The gang barges into the union hall where the dance will be held. All their girlfriends and potential girlfriends are there, decorating the place. Apparently this location is also where the town hides its supply of beer as within seconds, every guy is clutching one firmly in hand.

"Good, I see you've got the beer. Let me go get my little blue pills and I'll meet you at your place."Outside, Mayor Hanniger and Mabel Osborne are walking down the street. He’s congratulating her on the fine job her decorating committee has done on the town. We learn that this will be the first Valentine’s dance the town has held in twenty years. He wants her to play down that particular fact when dealing with people. Hmm…do I detect an air of unease surrounding the dance? Twenty years since the last one? I wonder why.

As the two enter the union hall, Howard jumps out of the door, covered in fake blood and acting like he’s hurt. Of course this startles Mabel, but only pisses off the Mayor. Seeing that his dad (the mayor, who also owns the mine) is there, TJ leaves. We learn that TJ had left town to go out west, but failed to make it on his own. Now that he is back in town, he’s working for his father at the mine, which he doesn’t really like. Police Chief Jake Newby arrives to collect the Mayor for a meeting of some kind over in Centerville. Before they get too far, Howard chases after them and gives the Mayor a heart-shaped box, saying that it was in the union hall when they got there and was addressed to him.

The Mayor opens it in the car with the Chief as they head down a coastal road. The card within has an ominous message:

From the heart comes a warning, filled with bloody good cheer.
Remember what happened as the 14th draws near.

Rather than candy, the box contains a human heart. The Mayor leans back in his seat and mutters, “It can’t be happening again,” several times. Strangely enough, the entire time he was reading the card aloud, the vehicle was in motion, but as soon as he revealed the bloody organ, we see that the SUV is parked along the side of the road. Plus, the pipe the Chief is smoking vanishes and then magically reappears in his mouth. The Chief flips on his siren, performs a three-point turn and races off back the way they came.

If you think the time has come to learn why there has not been a Valentine’s dance in twenty years, or what the Mayor meant by things “happening again” then you are in luck, because the producers agree with you. We turn our attention to The Cage, the local watering hole, where the gang from the mine, along with all their lady friends, is busy drinking and enjoying themselves. The bartender, a grumpy older guy that goes by the name of Happy (an appellation that must work under the same principle of referring to a morbidly obese man as Tiny), begins telling a story, one that he apparently likes to tell quite often. The others have heard it so many times, they have come to think of it as a local fairy tale, but he assures them that it is not.

Strap in and hold tight cuz the flashback has begun. “It all started twenty years ago,” Happy says. It was the night of the Valentine’s Day dance at the union hall, a tradition going back over one hundred years. Everyone was in attendance except for seven miners working at the mine, five of them still “down below” with two supervisors up top. Anxious to get to the party, the supervisors left before the others were safely out, failing to check the methane levels in the tunnels below.

Best not to ask about the locals' recipe for beef carpaccio.If right now you are thinking the word “explosion,” then good for you. BOOM! There was an explosion! The five men were buried alive as the town partied it up at the dance. For six weeks afterwards, efforts were made to dig them up, but when workers finally broke through, only one man was found alive: Harry Warden. Bartender Happy just happened to be the worker that found him, along with evidence that Harry had gone all cannibal on his friends in order to survive.

Harry would spend the next year in a mental hospital, but the following February he came back to town. He found the two supervisors that had left early that fateful Valentine’s Day and killed them with a pickaxe before cutting out their hearts. He stuffed the organs into heart-shaped candy boxes and left them at the dance for others to find, along with a note warning the town to never hold a Valentine’s Day dance again. Now every February 14th, legend says that Harry returns to town, ready to kill if no one heeds his warning.

Done with his tale, Happy warns the others to not have their party this coming Saturday night, or they may not live to see daylight. Naturally, the others just laugh it all off. The smoking and drinking continues and TJ and Sarah encounter one another by the jukebox. She implores him to accept the way things are, but he gets upset and walks away.

Over at the Centerville Police headquarters, the Mayor is smoking a stogie the size of a burrito, while Chief Newby talks on the phone, trying to confirm that Harry Warden is still locked up in the loony bin. Unfortunately, it’s too late at night to find out as the administration isn’t there and the night nurse doesn’t know a damn thing.

A medical examiner walks up with the Mayor’s Valentine heart and confirms that it is from a human – a female about thirty years of age to be more precise. Probably from that blonde chick killed at the very beginning. When he asks where they obtained it, the Mayor and the Chief ask him if he remembers Harry Warden. He does and when the Chief says that they cannot confirm if Harry is still locked up, the examiner looks at the heart again and says that it looks like they have their answer and that Harry Warden is back in town.

A scene from the classic giallo, "The Killer Leaves Chocolates At Midnight."We cut to some guy prowling around the streets of Valentine Bluffs, peeking in on Mabel Osborne as she does her wash in the Laundromat she owns. When she walks into a back room, he enters, the film having somehow transitioned to a Killer-Cam viewpoint. He places a heart-shaped box on a table and then backs around a corner.

Mabel returns from the back room and finds the box. She smiles, thinking that perhaps Chief Newby sent it and is lurking about. She opens it up and reads the card:

Roses and red, violets are blue,
One is dead and so are YOU.

With that, the lights go out in the Laundromat. Mabel spins around just as the killer – fully decked out in a miner’s outfit – lunges at her. He pursues her as she tries to flee, but easily catches her and pulls her to the ground. She seems to be having some sort of difficulty speaking, for her mouth says one thing, but her voice is heard saying something different (badly synched audio track, perhaps?). Once she is pushed down, he raises his pickaxe. She screams, “no!” The pickaxe descends and we hear a wet thud. A very wet thud, in fact.

Turning our attention to a junkyard, we see Hollis, Howard and some other guy named Mike. They are heating up some TV dinners on the engine block of Hollis’ running car. What? Don’t any of these guys have a home to go to? Surely one of them has an oven or a grill at home with which to heat things up? Why stand out in the cold and use a car?

The junkyard is filled with old junked vehicles and not far off, Axel sits in one, playing his harmonica. TJ stops by and the two have a brief “jam session” each playing his own harmonica. Wow, if this is what passes for a good time in this town, no wonder TJ tried to get the hell out.

We get the sense that TJ and Axel are friends – or were friends before TJ left town – but now things are awkward between the two. Axel is dating Sarah now and has no intention of backing down. TJ, on the other hand, is ready to fight, because as he puts it, they “both know who it is that Sarah wants.” I can only assume he is referring to himself. Axel just looks at him and then walks off. Hollis comes up with his heated plate of slop and offers some to TJ, who wisely declines. He’s in too much of a pensive mood, recalling the good times they all once shared and then reflecting on how things changed. That’s the nature of life, pal. Get used to it.

Morning comes and the film reminds us that today is Friday, February the 13th…and no, Mr. Vorhees will not be making an appearance.

At the town hall, Mayor Hanniger and Chief Newby are calling the mental hospital in Eastfield, trying again to verify if Harry Warden is housed there. Alas, the woman at the loony bin – Mrs. Raleigh - has no record of the man. That means that he is either dead, been transferred or has been released. The Chief is adamant that he needs to know what happened to Harry and he needs to know NOW. She says that the only thing that has not been checked are the microfilms in the central file. Newby tells her that he will be waiting for her call and then hangs up. Ha! I guess she’s gonna have to go check them now. The Mayor is beginning to freak out and thinks they ought to cancel the dance.

We get a brief scene with Sarah and Patty walking down the street, where the former considers her man problem, namely that she has two men from which to pick. She mentions how both TJ and Axel are acting poorly and says that she doesn’t even want to go to the dance (there’s one way of avoiding having to pick a date).

"Who could have done this?! I mean...no dryer sheets! How barbaric!"Over at Madam Mabel’s Laundromat, Chief Newby pulls up. He walks in and calls to Mabel, but there is no answer. The only sound is that of some dryers running. He notices that all the heart decorations have been turned upside down throughout the establishment. Then he detects a strange odor and begins sniffing around for the source. He opens one dryer and finds…a bunch of dry clothes. As he’s looking these over, the next dryer abruptly opens and Mabel’s body pops out. Most of her is still in the dryer, so only her head and shoulders are sticking out. Since the dryer is still running (Why? Most stop when you open the door) her body keeps flopping over and over as the rotation keeps it moving. And oh yes…Mabel is burned pretty bad, having been in the dryer for a while. I think we’ve located the origin of the funky stink permeating the place.

I have a question at this point. How did the killer know that the Chief was gonna show up at this time and thus have Mabel’s body inside the running dryer, waiting to be discovered? We know that Mabel was killed the night before, so has she been in the dryer ever since? Did the killer return every couple of hours and feed coins into the dryer to keep in going? Or did he predict when Chief Newby would be showing up and made sure to have the dryer running at least an hour before that? Either way, the killer would had to have been there somewhat recently, in order to activate the dryer. One more question: what made the dryer pop open? I’ve never had that happen with my dryer at home. Then again, I’ve never had a human corpse in mine.

Over at the Hanniger mine, the guys are hard at work deep in the earth. There are some heated words exchanged concerning specific job duties and who will be doing them. TJ and Axel nearly come to blows at one point over the issue of Sarah, but the foreman assigns TJ to a different crew, splitting the pair up.

Back at the Laundromat, Mabel’s baked body is being taken away. The Mayor is there and remarks on the “awful smell.” He wants Chief Newby to get help from Granville, but the Chief doesn’t like that idea. With too many cops crawling over town, word is sure to get out about Harry Warden and there will be a panic. To help keep a lid in things, he has the ambulance crew load up Mabel’s body from the back of the building. He also swears them to secrecy, telling them to keep the true nature of her death to themselves. If anyone is to ask, they are to say that she died from a heart attack. At the last minute, he notices something in the big hole in Mabel’s chest (the one where her heart used to be): a paper valentine.

Inside the valentine is another written message:

It happened once, it happened twice.
Cancel the dance or it will happen thrice.

"While we're at it, why don't we close the beaches? It worked in that fish movie."That’s all the Mayor can take. He decides to cancel the dance right then and there. Even more, he wants every Valentine’s Day decoration taken down all across town. Given the amount spied across town during earlier shots in the film, and I’d say that is going to be quite the task. Plus, he tells the Chief to get the union hall locked up, so no one can get inside. This the Chief does, informing a group of disappointed and annoyed young people that the dance is canceled and that there will be no parties on the following night, either.

At the mine, quitting time has come. TJ is eager to get out of there, but Axel is mad and says that they have some things to settle. TJ agrees, but hops in his car and roars away. He heads to the grocery market where Sarah works. He pulls her outside and then pushes her into his car. She says that she doesn’t want to go with him, but she has a big smile on her face the whole time that says something else.

Oh, crap. TJ drives them out to some barren spot along the coast. The two walk along and the soft music kicks in. I think this means it’s time for some “character” moments. Finally, she confronts him, wanting to know why he never called or wrote when he was away. He says that he wanted to, but it was hard for him, as he made so many mistakes. Blah, blah, blah…he tells her that he loves her, she’s pissed cuz he just left her behind…blah, blah, blah. They kiss.

Later at The Cage, Axel and the gang are engaged in what apparently is their nightly behavior: smoking, getting drunk and hanging out at the bar. Yikes, that really is a boring town. TJ shows up and when Axel asks if he has seen Sarah, TJ just says that it isn’t his turn to watch after her.

Speaking of Sarah, she is walking home, alone in the dark. I’m betting that in a small, boring town like this, such an activity would normally hold no dangers aside from inadvertently stepping in dog poop. Well, this is Canada, so make that Moose poop. Of course, with a murderer on the loose, things are different. Too bad nobody has warned people that there is a potential serial killer on the prowl. I think the town will be needing a new Mayor and Chief of Police when the residents learn of such civic irresponsibility.

Funny that we should mention the Chief, as Sarah nearly walks right into him on the way home. When she sees the odd look in his eyes, she asks if something is wrong. He tells her that everything is fine and he is just making his nightly patrol.

At The Cage, Happy the bartender is positive that Mabel did not die from a heart attack and is sure she was done in by Harry Warden. Meanwhile, the gang is trying to figure out what they are going to do on Saturday night since the dance has been canceled. Howard suggests a party. But Hollis points out that there is no place to have it, since Chief Newby has the whole town locked up tight. TJ suggests having it at the mine, since everything they need is there – “a rec room, a pool table, everything!”

"What do you mean, you don't serve miners in here?"Happy overhears this and tells them that they have no business having a party. TJ tells him to lighten up and warns him to not let anyone know about their plans. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” the bartender answers. He doesn’t look thrilled about the idea of the party and as the gang gets excited about their little shindig, Happy just mutters, “Assholes,” to himself.

We cut to the mine, where someone in big boots and carrying a pickaxe is skulking around. It’s the killer! Wait, he’s one night too early! No, that ain’t the killer. Why, it’s Happy the bartender. Happy has got himself good and liquored up, and now breaks into the mine so that he rig up a little surprise for the gang. He has it set so that when the door to the rec room is opened, a dummy miner raises a pickaxe. This will no doubt cause more than one of the partygoers to soil their undergarments in fear. Happy laughs his ass off at the notion and opens and closes the door three times to appreciate the effect.

As he steps away, he hears movement from behind the door. He turns and opens the door once more, only this time there is no dummy rigged up with a pickaxe. No, this time there is a very real killer…with a pickaxe.

Before we go any further, I must point out something. Happy had only stepped away from the door for ten seconds before opening it again. In that brief time, the killer had to come out of his hiding place someplace in the room beyond the door, disassemble Happy’s little surprise, moving the dummy out of sight and taking up a position just beyond the doorway. I don’t know about you, but that seems like an awfully short time to do all that.

So the killer swings the pickaxe underhanded. One of the points comes up and catches Happy under the chin. It sinks into his head and exits out his eye socket. Since his eye socket was already occupied, the eyeball gets pushed out to flop about at the end of the optic nerve. Happy slowly falls to the ground, dead. The killer, using the pickaxe already embedded in his victim’s head, pulls the body away across the ground.

Another question: how did the killer know that Happy was going to be at the mine at that time? Even once you know the killer’s identity, there’s no way he should have known what Happy was planning to do.

Day comes and the movie reminds us that it is now Saturday, February the 14th. Valentine’s Day.

The day passes without incident and when night comes, the gang arrives at the mine for their big party. They’ve brought beer, beer and more beer. Plus, some wieners. Ya gotta have some food to go with all that beer.

At the police station, Chief Newby is alarmed to see a package that came for him: a heart-shaped Valentine’s candy box. Oh, shit! Opening it very slowly, he discovers the box is filled with…chocolates. Wow, scary! Especially if they aren’t good chocolates like See’s or Ghirardelli’s. If it’s some cheap-ass drug store brand, then look out! He opens the card and sees that it was a gift from the late Mabel.

Meanwhile, everyone has arrived at the mine’s rec room, including TJ and Axel, who don’t seem thrilled so see one another. After several scenes of people eating, drinking, smoking and contemplating fornication, one guy named Dave decides he has “the munchies” and needs some food. Wait a sec…the munchies? Has this guy been smoking his special cigarattes before coming to the party? Ya know, now that I think about it, I think Dave has been sampling the mary jane. Earlier when the group arrived, he could be seen toking on an awfully small cigaratte. All he needed was a roach clip.

Bobbing for wieners didn't quite catch on as a party game outside of San Francisco.Dave heads into the kitchen and finds a big pot of boiling hot dogs. He leans over to examine them and BAM! Out of nowhere a hand grabs the back of his head. It’s the killer, who is intent on pushing Dave’s head into the boiling water. Dave struggles but he can’t prevent himself from getting dunked. He drowns in the boiling water, the skin of face blistered up something fierce.

Returning to the police station, Chief Newby says he has a feeling about the mine and intends on heading out to look things over. Before he can go, a commotion outside draws his attention. On the front step is a bloody heart-shaped box, several dogs sniffing at it. He runs the canines off and then reads the attached note, which simply reads, “You didn’t stop the party.” Hey, that didn't rhyme like all the previous notes. I think the killer is getting lazy.

Wait a sec! If the killer is at the mine, having just boiled Dave to death with the hotdogs, then how in the hell did he have the time to come back into town and leave this box on the police station’s doorstep? Don’t tell me that bloody box has been sitting there for hours; otherwise those dogs would have found it much earlier. Plus, we saw an exterior shot of the station after everyone arrived at the party and there was no package on the doorstep at that time. Worse, we know that this heart belongs to the late Mabel Osborne, yet the blood has not congealed as evidenced by the smear on the pavement as well as the amount Newby gets on his hand when he picks up the box. How did the killer keep the blood from congealing?

The drunken antics continue at the party. Axel is getting a little frisky with Sarah, who keeps telling him to back off. When he doesn’t, TJ gives him a verbal warning. The two argue over Sarah and who she is gonna be with. Sarah gets upset that they won’t let her talk for herself. Eventually fists fly and a brief struggle ensues until Hollis breaks them up. Axel grabs a beer and stomps off outside. TJ tries to apologize to Sarah, but she just wants to be left alone. She walks off along with Patty.

Elsewhere, a couple by the names of John and Sylvia are making out in the room where all the miners change into their gear. They’re stretched out on two of the numerous benches (having pushed them together), the empty mining suits dangling overheard like a collection of hung corpses. She decides that what the moment really needs is not the condom he has in his wallet, but more beer – perhaps enough alcohol to make her willing to put that prophylactic to use as something other than a water balloon. Hopeful that beers will make her more willing to give it up, John decides to fetch them, leaving her alone.

John heads back to the rec room to retrieve the beers. He walks into the kitchen where two gals are stirring the pot of wieners. He heads to the large refrigerator and just as he pulls the door open, one of the girls removes something strange from the pot. When she cries out, John turns to look, reaching in and grabbing a six pack without looking…and thus not seeing Dave’s body stashed in the fridge. The object pulled from the pot seems to be a boiled human heart, presumably removed from Dave’s chest. Of course, no one realizes this and they just pass off the mystery meat as some sort of joke perpetuated by someone, Howard being the prime suspect.

Alone, Sylvia looks at all those mining suits hanging over her and begins to get a little freaked. Nearby, someone turns on all the showers. Thinking it may be John trying to scare her, she gets up to investigate. At that moment, mining suits start dropping down all over, someone secretly manipulating the controls that lower them. Sylvia runs in circles and screams a lot. Eventually, one of the things that drops down in "I'm just gonna hang out here for a while."front of her is not a mining suit, but the body of Happy the bartender. This elicits the biggest scream yet and when Sylvia turns around, the killer is standing right there. He grabs her by the head, one hand on each cheek, and lifts her off the ground. Carrying her into the showers, he hoists her up and impales her on one of the shower fixtures. She shakes, spits blood from her mouth and dies.

John returns with the beer but can’t find her at first. Hearing the showers running, he gets all happy, probably thinking that Sylvia has decided to get naked. He walks into the shower room and finds her hanging from the fixtures, water pouring from her mouth.

Chief Newby has arrived at the mine, but as he does a message comes in from the station telling him that there is an urgent call from Mrs. Raleigh at the mental hospital. I guess she finally finished going through all that microfilm. He then turns his truck around and heads back to the station. WTF? They cannot relay that message to him?

At the party, some fool (Patty) gets the bright idea to take a trip down into the mine. Hollis balks at the idea, but Howard manages to talk him into it. So Hollis, Howard, Sarah, Patty, Mike and a girl named Harriet head on out, much to TJ’s disapproval. They grab some more beer, some blankets and a couple of lights before hopping aboard the railcars that descend into the mine. Then down they all go.

At the bottom, rather than turn right around and head back up like they promised TJ that they would do, the girls pester Hollis for a tour. He relents and leads them around, describing everything to them. At one point Howard pauses, thinking he hears a sound down an abandoned tunnel, but he passes it off as rats. Halfway through the impromptu tour, Mike and Harriet break off for a little privacy, no doubt looking for a place to have a quick screw.

Above, some blonde chick has found Dave’s corpse in the fridge and is jumping around having a screaming fit at about the same time John comes stumbling in to announce that Sylvia has been murdered. Axel tells everyone that it’s the work of Harry Warden and they all should leave. Well, his exact words were “get the fuck out,” but they mean the same thing. TJ tries to call the police but discovers that the phone lines have been cut. He tells a guy named Tommy to go get the Chief. Then he turns to Axel and informs him that several people, including Sarah, are below in the mine. Differences put aside, the two race together to get them out. They take an elevator down into the mine and then split up.

Somewhere underground Hollis, Patty and Sarah are walking through the oldest part of the mine. He tells them that these tunnels have not been used in years. Not since…Harry Warden. At that exact instant, Howard jumps out and scares them all. As the four of them walk on down the tunnel, Killer Cam makes it clear that the killer is watching.

We turn our attention back to Mike and Harriet for a brief scene, seeing that they are making out, but have not quite reached the skin on skin portion of the evening.

The others are traversing a tunnel when they hear the sound of glass breaking. They wonder what it is, but cannot see anything. We do get to see that it is the killer, walking down a tunnel and breaking all the light bulbs, plunging the place into an even deeper darkness. Hollis says that they need to find Mike and Harriet and then get back up top.

Without a resurrection ship nearby, Number Six realized that she was stuck living with Mr. Snotnose.In town, Chief Newby is hopping back in his truck, evidently having just emerged from the station where he took that urgent call. As he starts his vehicle, Tommy comes racing around the corner and pulls up next to him. He tells the Chief that they were having a party at the mine and then Harry Warden showed up and started killing everyone. What a party pooper! Tommy adds that TJ and Axel stayed behind to help free some people that are below in the tunnels. The Chief’s eyes get all big at Harry Warden’s name. He tells them all to get home before racing out to the mine himself. En route he calls dispatch and has them begin rounding up every available man and to have them meet him at the mine.

Howard, Hollis, Patty and Sarah are wandering around the tunnels, trying to find Mike and Harriet. They turn a corner and run right into TJ. He tells them what is happening and says they need to leave. Howard reminds them all about Mike and Harriet, so TJ and Hollis split up (bad move) to find them, leaving Howard to wait for Axel along with the girls.

Hollis manages to locate the missing Mike and Harriet. They are still where we last saw them, stretched out under a blanket. Now we see that they have both been screwed…literally. A giant drill bit has been plunged into Mike’s back, impaling both his body and that of Harriet underneath him. Suffice it to say, they are dead. Unfortunately for Hollis, the killer has come up behind him with a nail gun. He turns and gets one right in the temple. Then POW, another in the middle of the forehead. He spins around and stumbles away.

Howard is waiting with Patty and Sarah, when Hollis comes bumbling along, nails in his head and blood dripping everywhere. He drops dead right in front of them. As they look at his body, a light down the tunnel distracts them. They look up to see the killer approaching, so Howard bails, running off down another tunnel. The killer dives into a side tunnel, apparently going after him.

Sarah and Patty are left alone, the latter losing her grip on reality now that her boyfriend is dead. Axel arrives at this moment and begins leading the pair away. Patty is wigging out, not wanting to leave Hollis behind, even though the other man is dead. At the point where two tunnels connect, they hear someone approaching from the other passage. Axel grabs a board and swings it, connecting with…TJ! With Hollis dead and Howard missing, they agree that the best course of action is to get Sarah and Patty up top and then get help before returning for the others (they have no idea that Mike and Harriet are dead).

Chief Newby arrives back at the mine and finds that the elevator has been disabled. TJ, Axel, Sarah and Patty discover the same thing at the bottom of the shaft. Axel suggests they climb, so they all begin ascending a nearby ladder. Axel leads the way, followed by Patty, Sarah and then TJ. Patty has assumed “frightened, panicked girl” duties by this time and bitches the whole way up, saying more than once that she can’t go any further.

Higher up the ladder, Axel trips something and Howard’s dead body comes plummeting downward, yanked to a stop at Patty’s level by a rope Howard was a real Dead Head.around the neck. The sudden stop causes the rope to decapitate the body, which then falls to the ground far below, the head left dangling in the rope. This is almost comical because earlier in the film, someone had told Howard, "You’d forget your head if it wasn’t tied on with a rope!" Ha! Everyone freaks and climbs back down, figuring the killer is above them. And no, we never saw Howard’s end (snicker). TJ suggests using the railcars to ascend. Axel leads the way, saying he knows a shortcut through the sump.

They arrive at the the sump and traverse a narrow wooden walkway over the water. Axel holds back while TJ takes the girls across. When they get to the far end, they hear a cry and then a splash. They hurry back to find the guardrail broken and a light sinking into the water, which TJ says is over sixty feet deep. Believing Axel to be dead at the bottom, they press onward.

Arriving at a spot where another tunnel beaks off, TJ tells the girls to follow the one to the left and keep going. He heads off down the other tunnel without the slightest explanation as to where he is going and why. The girls get a few feet when they hear a commotion. They rush back and look down the other tunnel to find that a cave-in has blocked it. TJ is somewhere on the other side. Knowing they can’t do anything, they resume walking. They don’t make it much further when the killer hops out from around a corner, swings his pickaxe and connects with Patty right in the gut. She slowly collapses and dies. Sarah then runs like hell in the opposite direction.

 

Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.

 

Up top, several more police cars and an ambulance have arrived. Since the elevator isn’t working, Chief Newby leads everyone (loads of cops and additional miners) down the railcar shaft on foot.

Below, Sarah is lost. She’s alone and crying when TJ finds her, nearly scaring her out of her skin. He holds her a moment and then leads her away to the railcars. He frantically tries to get them running while the killer approaches from behind. Finally, the cars begin moving and all three jump aboard. TJ and the killer fight and in the process, both fall off. Sarah jumps off as well and throws TJ the large shovel he had been using as a weapon and had dropped.

Further above, The Chief and the cops meet the empty railcar train as it ascends.

The killer pursues TJ and Sarah into the abandoned section of the mine. There the two men fight some more. The killer’s pickax gets stuck in a wall, so he is forced to unsheathe a large knife. As he closes in on a prone TJ, Sarah tries to pull him aside and in the process his mask is torn away, revealing his identity. It’s Axel! “Why?” asks TJ.

Suddenly we get an instant flashback. We learn that one of those two supervisors originally killed by Harry Warden was Axel’s father and little Axel was in the room at the time of the murder, seeing it all happen and getting splashed with blood before he managed to hide under the bed.

We return to the present, where hopefully, this flashback was imparted to TJ and Sarah via some telepathic process and thus answering his question of “Why?” The two men fight some more and the tunnel partially collapses, which buries Axel. TJ and Sarah flee, running into the rescuers. Immediately the workers get to digging Axel out.

TJ tells Chief Newby that the killer is not Harry Warden, but is in fact, Axel Palmer. The Chief confirms this, saying that he got a call from the mental hospital earlier in the evening, telling him that Harry Warden died five years ago. The Mayor then realizes that it was on Valentine’s Day that Harry Warden killed Axel’s father.

In the tunnel, the workers have unearthed a hand and forearm which move. Axel is alive! Upon hearing this, Sarah rushes in, saying that she has to see him (she was dating the guy for a while, after all). She goes to the hand and touches it. It promptly twitches and grabs her hand, refusing to let go. On the other side of the rubble, we see Axel cutting at his arm with his knife, so that when Sarah pulls away, she has a severed arm in her grip (conveniently handed to her by one of the film crew, whose hand can be seen in the rubble).

“Hanniger, I’ll be waiting in hell for you!” cries Axel from the other side. Then he adds, “Harry? Harry, I’m coming. This whole fucking town is going to die. We’re coming back you bastards.” We see him pick himself up, cradling the stump that was once his arm. “Sarah, be my bloody Valentine,” he adds as he stumbles off down the tunnel, laughing maniacally.

Uh…where in the hell is he going? Are there other ways to exit the mine that we don’t know about? If so, then why didn’t they try using one of The first set photos of the latest videogame to movie adaptation: Miner 2049er.them earlier to escape? I don’t think Axel is going to get too far, certainly not with a stump of an arm that is dripping blood all over the place. More than likely he’s just gonna stumble off to some dark corner of the mine and drop dead from blood loss.

As he vanishes into the dark, he begins singing:

Daddy’s gone away.
Harry Warden made you pay.

Fade out. Time to roll the credits, which are accompanied by a cringe-worthy folk song. Be sure to listen to the lyrics.


The End.

Review

Coming as it did at the height of the early 80’s slasher craze, My Bloody Valentine easily gets lumped in with the rest of the genre of that period. Making it even easier to overlook the movie as a carbon copy of other films is the name, an obvious use of a particular calendar date as the basis of a horror film, much like Halloween, Friday the 13th and New Year’s Evil had done earlier. The truth is, this film is indeed a slasher, trying to cash in on the success of those previous films, but it is also something else. It tries to be more than just a slasher, offering up more to the audience than many of its ilk did.

As with any film, let’s start with the characters. I’m not trying to say that this group is any deep bunch, but they are certainly more developed than the generic teens that populate most films like this. It helps that most are already adults, dealing with more mature issues and thus cannot be easily categorized by stereotype.

In TJ, we have the young man that has tried to leave home behind, venturing forth into the world to fare somewhat badly on his own. Forced to return home, we get the sense that he really doesn’t want to be living in Valentine’s Bluffs or working at his father’s mine, but has no real choice in the matter. We can almost feel his frustration at having nearly escaped a dismal life, but being pulled back in. On top of this is the fact that the woman he loves is now with someone else.

Frustration is good word to associate with these people. Axel is just as frustrated, only in a much different manner. He opted to stay in town and work at the mine. With TJ gone, he and Sarah have formed a relationship. One can imagine him to be quite happy at the prospects of a life with her in their small town, so it’s only natural that he doesn’t like the fact that TJ is back. TJ’s dissatisfaction with life in town is a slap in the face to Axel’s choices and his former friend's feelings for Sarah threaten his own relationship with her.

Poor Sarah may be the most confused of all. Upset when TJ left town, seemingly abandoning her without a care, she eventually hooks up with Axel. Then TJ returns and makes it clear he wants her back. It’s obvious she cares more for TJ than she does for Axel and is put in the position of having to choose between the two. No matter what happens, someone is bound to get hurt.

It’s this kind of social dynamic that elevates the film beyond the standard slasher. These people have much more to worry about than getting drunk, smoking pot and getting laid, and although they pursue all of those things, they writers are wise enough to not let such interests define their characters.

Aside from the lover’s triangle, there are still plenty of characters that come to life. Howard is the clown of the group and while he is the one that adheres most to stereotype, he is not quite as annoying as similar characters in other films. Mabel is hardly in the film, but we get the impression that she carries a torch for Chief Newby. Those two are just a couple of examples. Taking these well defined characters, the movie throws them into a well paced plot, mixing murders, characterization, humor and an almost nihilistic look at small town life together to make an end product that manages to entertain, frighten and occasionally, make one think.

Most of gore FX in this film is quite good for the day. It’s just a pity that censors forced the producers to cut most of it in order to achieve an R rating for the film’s initial release. When placed back into the film, these moments are bloody enough to up the ante on the horror quotient without reveling in the blood and guts for sheer exploitive purposes. Several deaths – most notably Happy the bartender – are done quite convincingly, while others look a little less polished. There is a moment or two when the rubbery reality of a severed head or burned body is hard to overlook, but one can still easily suspend their disbelief until the film has run its course.

Visually, the film retains a very dark and cold feel. Of course, February is not the warmest month and this is quite apparent on screen. The barren countryside surrounding the town of Valentine’s Bluffs only contributes to the bleak feeling and naturally the mine itself is the epitome of dark and dreary. As a backdrop for a final cat-and-mouse game with a killer, the mine makes for a truly creepy and atmospheric locale. Watching the film, the viewer can empathize with TJ’s desire to leave the place, as there is not anything warm or inviting about the town.

If the movie has a weak spot, it is the near-superhuman qualities it forces upon its killer. One of the conventions that this film adheres to (if not outright created) is the ability of its villain to perform impossible tasks. More than once, the killer seems to know exactly when certain actions will be undertaken by others as well as exhibiting the ability to move rapidly from point A to point B. The latter is especially true and once the murderer’s identity is known, watching the film again really opens up some plot holes even wider as the viewer sees just how improbable and/or impossible it would be for him to accomplish the things he does. This is not something so glaring that it detracts from the viewing experience, but sharp-eyed viewers will spot it.

Overall, My Bloody Valentine is an overlooked classic in my opinion. While carrying on the grand traditions of the slasher genre, it aims to reach just a little higher and is at times more reminiscent of the Italian giallos from the previous decade, highlighting a central mystery just as much as does the stylish deaths. It features a killer that really should have reached icon status along the likes of Myers, Vorhees and Krueger, but for some reason or another, failed to do so. Only in more recent years has the film truly found an appreciative audience and fans – be they devotees of general horror, slashers or early 80’s cinema, should check it out. Hey, if it was good enough to be remade, it's worth seeing at least once.

 

Expect To See:
Cannibals - In a brief flashback, we see a mining accident than traps several men below ground. Only one survives and we see that he accomplishes this by snacking on the others.
Comic Relief - The character of Howard Landers is the resident odious comic relief. In true OCR fashion, he suffers from the lack of a sexual partner, but still meets a bad end.
Crazed Killers - Harry Warden survives a mining accident and then kills those he feels are responsible. Twenty years later, the killings begin again. Is Harry back after all this time?
Extreme Violence - Several people meet very violent and/or messy ends in this film, killed by anything from a pickaxe to a nailgun to a shower fixture. Yes, a shower fixture.
Gore - The theatrical version is not so bad, but in the director's cut we get to see lots of mutilated bodies, severed body parts and people impaled with sharp things.
Hotrods - TJ zips around town in a pea green 70's model Chevy El Camino. Unfortunately the car is not used in any sort of thrilling chase sequence...or even a boring chase sequence.
Skin - There is not very much of this. One brief scene at the begining shows a woman in her bra. Other than that there is the shower scene at the mine, but that involves all men.
Underground Hijinks - The film's last third takes place in the dark, dank passages of the Hanniger mine. If they'd been down there any longer, I'd have expected to see Gollum tailing them.

 

Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 11
Alcoholic drinks consumed: I stopped counting at 60
Smokes: 26
Killer Cam shots: 2
Severed hearts: 2
Boiled hearts: 1
Flashbacks: 2
Different brands of beer shown: 5
Fist fights: 1

04 Mins - Please, let no one drop the soap.
15 Mins - 3-D, comin’ at ya!
17 Mins – Camera crew reflected in glass door.
27 Mins – Mabel gets the permanent press cycle.
44 Mins – Dave gets a face full of wieners. Not as dirty as it sounds.
51 Mins – Now Dave is just chillin’.
54 Mins – That gives new meaning to “mouthwash.”
68 Mins – Talk about getting screwed.
71 Mins – Bitch slapped…literally.


Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time you see a bottle of Moosehead beer or the Moosehead logo, take a drink.

 

Images Click for larger image

Howard's fart-in-a-can didn't go
over very well with the girls.


"This heart looks like it's never
been used. It must have belonged
to a lawyer."



"Ahoy matey? This is a mining
town and you're not even a sailor!"

 
Sadly, Wolverine forgot to retract
his claws before attempting to
revive the heart attack victim.

What every cupboard needs: a
jar full of ass.

"Just wait till I get this in my
garlic marinade."


 
"Quit pissin' over there and come
look. We found Freddy Krueger's grave."


 
"Gah, I got something in my eye!"

"Yuck, nothing but fruits and chews."

Helen's ability to deep throat
wieners wasn't quite what the
boys were expecting.


"I can't follow all these dogs at
once! Just how many kids are
trapped down a well?"

"Dude, loose the ascot.
It looks ridiculous."

"Okay, who was the moron who
dropped bull testicles in with
the hotdogs?"


"Has anyone seen Dave after
Pamela told him to go chill?"

Dentist: "Open wide."

All they need is a bright green
van and a Great Dane.

"I'll contact the cops in a minute.
First I wanna try and win those
My Bloody Valentine
concert tickets
by being the 18th caller."

"I know this is a tense moment,
but I have to ask: does this
ascot look stupid?"

That is most definitely not
safe sex.

Little Alex learned to steer clear
of daddy when he was drinking
his "happy juice."

 

Immortal Dialog

The Mayor has his Valentine gift examined.

Medical examiner: "What the hell are you guys doing with a loose heart? Looked like a butcher ripped this thing out. What’s going on over in Valentine Bluffs?"

Shadow’s Comment: Hearts ripped out? My guess is they're filming the latest season of The Bachelor.


The gang makes plans for a party while boozing it up in the bar.

Happy: “Forget about having a party at all tomorrow night or you’ll be sorry.”
TJ: “Hey, lighten up, Hap. Piss on Harry Warden and that damn old legend. We’re gonna have ourselves a party. Don’t you go telling nobody.”
Happy: “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Shadow’s Comment: You're doomed! You hear me? Doomed! DOOMED!!

 

Keep In Mind
  • Be glad you don’t have to shower with all your co-workers everyday.
  • Patients are easily lost in the Canadian mental health system.
  • Some towns go waaaay overboard on decorating for Valentine’s Day.
  • The permanent press setting on dryers will not remove the bad smell from old ladies, just make it worse.
  • In some small Canadian mining towns, drunken revelry is a nightly affair.
  • One can never have too much beer to drink.
  • Bartenders named Happy are decidedly not.
  • The clown of any group will be the only guy not getting laid.
  • It takes at least two deaths to ruin a party.
  • It’s possible to drag a dead body up several dozen feet of ladder in less than a minute.



This Film & Me

Seeing the television ads for My Bloody Valentine is something I’ll always remember. This film came out right at the apex of the early 80’s slasher boom. I was in those transitional years between elementary and high school, and being such a big fan of all things science fiction and horror, such films were right up my alley. Of course, I had to convince my dad to take me to see such movies, as my mother would never do so. Hell, she’d have pitched a fit if she really knew what kind of films my father and I were going to see on so many occasions. I never got to see this film in theaters, but I do remember flipping through a Fangoria magazine and seeing several stills from the film, most notably some of the gorier moments. Those images stayed in my mind for a good twenty-five years. Through all those years the film eluded me, but I remembered the photos I saw in that magazine. Then I finally got the DVD and sat down to watch the movie. Imagine my surprise when it contained none of the images I recalled from that issue of Fangoria. A few years later the director’s cut arrived on DVD and those scenes were placed back in the movie, confirming that I had not imagined those photos all those years ago.

Shadow's rating: Six Tombstones



The Good

  • Most characters are NOT teens
  • Slow, deliberate pace
  • Gore FX are quite good in Director's Cut
  • The mine is a very spooky location

The Bad

  • Killer shows supernatural ability to move fast and know things ahead of time
  • No hot chick nudity
  • Some kills take place off screen

The Ugly

  • Theatrical version suffers from bad editing in kill scenes
  • These people smoke and drink like there is no tomorrow (for some that's true)

 

 

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