The Test of Time: My Bloody Valentine (1981)

We all have certain movies we love. Movies we respect without question because of either tradition, childhood love, or because they’ve always been classics. However, as time keeps ticking, do those classics still hold up? Do they remain must see? So…the point of this column is to determine how a film holds up for a modern horror audience, to see if it stands the Test of Time.

Director: George Mihalka
Starring: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, and Alf Humphreys

So…it’s closing in on Valentine’s Day, a holiday that for some brings joy, a holiday that for some makes them feel alone with eating a plate of nachos built for three. No matter where you stand, we should all avoid terrible movies this weekend. Instead, how about a little revenge and murder? Sounds dandy, right? For this week, the choice was simple considering the film has the holiday right there in the title. They’re already remade this one in 2009, but does the original stand up against the Test of Time?  

Under the examination: MY BLOODY VALENTINE.


THE STORY: Released exactly 35 years ago, MY BLOODY VALENTINE focuses on that special day meant for love, roses, meals no one can afford and…murder? Well, sometimes it happens. Here, it occurs in a small mining town where 20 years ago a terrible mining accident supposedly left a man dead until he returned during the town’s Valentine’s Day dance to kill folks. No more dances after that until…the killings became legend and young folks decided a new dance was in order. However, they quickly find out that legends aren’t always false as bad things start happening like…you guessed it, murder.

WHAT STILL HOLDS UP: I love 80s slasher films, especially those that fall more in the B category where they act like one of those six feet under time capsules, showing us brutal, over the top violence, and a time when CGI gore wasn’t a possibility (thank God). MY BLOODY VALENTINE acts as a perfect example.

This flick is one of those that I catch about every few years, and each time I end up surprised by the amount of blood, stabbings, and the general bombardment of nasty violence (by the way, only watch the director’s cut). The production plays just as blue collar as the characters. Speaking of which, while there aren’t any famous folks in the cast, they all look about perfect.

True love.

For once in a movie, everyone seems more or less authentic. The guys look average and the girls are cute, but the producers didn’t shoo-in a Playboy model. Sure, a dumb complaint, but that always pulls me out when the cast doesn’t fit the characters. We have blue-collar miners, and they should look rough and worn out. Main man T.J. (Paul Kelman, who never found a break and looks like Rufus Sewell’s older brother) in particular is solid. Good looking, but average. The same goes for everyone else.

As I said earlier, fans who dig this kind of “art” love it for the gore and the villain, and MY BLOODY VALENTINE delivers on both. For the gore, the movie does not disappoint with a fantastic scenes like the great moment with a washing machine (where a poor old lady gets dried out in a dryer), a decapitation, and my favorite the nail gun to the poor fat guy’s head. And his pickaxe. Our villain the miner-killer, perhaps a man named Harry Warden who went on that rampage 20 years ago, is fantastic. Granted, he’s just another in the long line of Michael Myers silent killers, but every slasher movie more or less ripped off John Carpenter. Mr. Miner looks pretty badass all dressed in black with a helmet, goggles, and a pickaxe. The light on his helmet even works to good effect.

He told her never to try that feature.

WHAT BLOWS NOW: I have to admit that I go back and forth on the story. Last time I watched this I remember being bored by the story and not enjoying the box of bloody hearts and bad poetry. This time, I’m on the fence. I appreciate director George Mihalka and the writers for attempting to create fleshed out characters and a decent story. Ok, so the story is basic and obvious, but that’s fine. At least it fits with themes of the working class and time passing. The main problem comes from nothing surprising happens. Gory deaths yes, but not story wise. Hell, even when we flashback to what happened 20 years at the Valentine’s Day dance, it ends up unintentionally hilarious as its complete with the wavy dream sequence music as an old man reveals all the needed back story. Talk about dated…and not in a good way.

Actually, the dumbest part of MY BLOODY VALENTINE comes from the town’s obsession with having a dance. Not only are these people adults, but a killer who has killed before at a Valentine’s Day dance has threatened to kill again if they have another. Shit, just move it to President’s Day. Problem solved.  

That's a bad way to go.

THE VERDICT: It’s still interesting that producers didn’t try to franchise this one. Obviously, the money wasn’t there (it only made around $5 million), but MY BLOODY VALENTINE seemed ripe for multiple adventures. Think of all the workplace settings where the miner could have gone and f*cked up people. It’s a shame, really. In today’s direct to Netflix world, here’s an opportunity someone should take advantage of. If someone wants to lend me a few million, I’ll take care of it. 



Old school lobby card.



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