One of my very favorite things about horror movies is the holiday themed nightmare. Holidays are usually a joyful time, but genre filmmakers found out early that exploiting momentous occasions that are usually circled on a calendar often lead to a memorable kill fest and big bucks at the box office.
My Bloody Valentine is a perfect example, taking the “escaped maniac returns to kill on a holiday” formula from films such as Halloween and Black Christmas but with the added gruesomeness of Friday the 13th. 1981 was a hell of a year for the horror genre; in fact, 1978 to 1984 may be my most watched era of horror, producing a bevy of films that I’d easily call some of my favorites.
First things first, if you haven’t seen My Bloody Valentine, make sure you watch the ‘uncut’ version. Back in the day, the scumbag censors cut nine minutes of the movie out. The uncut version restores three of those nine minutes, and it makes a world of difference as each kill is vastly more gruesome and effective. The Lionsgate Blu-ray has been out of print for a few years and is fairly pricey online and the DVD (while still available) seems to be headed down that path as well – so act fast!
The film opens 20 years prior in the mining town of Valentine’s Bluff, where we see two supervisors leave their posts to attend an annual Valentine’s Day dance. After they leave, an explosion rocks the mine, trapping six miners underground. One, Harry Warden, survived though, becoming completely deranged in the process. Warden is sent to a mental hospital but escapes a year later – just in time for Valentine’s Day – and murders the two responsible for the accident and leaves a terrifying warning to never hold another Valentine’s Dance.
Now, 20 years later, Valentine’s Bluff is finally ready to put the past behind them and uplift its ban on the annual holiday festivities. Amidst the preparation, a very heartfelt message delivered via a box of chocolates gives town authorities a reason to be very worried about this upcoming party, and shortly after this warning, the brutal murders return and the past memories of Harry Warden are fully realized.
From the first time I saw this movie, I’ve always been fascinated by this movie and the Harry Warden character. I was around 13 or 14 when I was first introduced to it, and immediately after watching it I couldn’t wait to watch the sequel My Bloody Valentine: Roses are Red, Violets Are Blue, You Better Watch Out, Here Comes Part II. But I was heartbroken to learn that no such sequel existed. In retrospect, I think not having a franchise kind of adds to the film’s lore, making that annual Valentine’s Day viewing twice as atmospheric. Though I still do wish there were more of them…
I love Harry Warden’s back story and how it lingers throughout the older folks in town who were around 20 years prior; especially My Bloody Valentine’s version of the harbinger of doom Crazy Ralph character, the bartender, aptly named Happy. I’ve always thought My Bloody Valentine has one of the most likable casts of characters (especially Hollis), who come off as believable young adults… real people, who really like to drink a lot of beer in the local pub. The atmospheric mine setting is great as well, with just enough darkness and claustrophobic tension to still get my heart rate up, even after 20 plus years of watching this.
For me, the only crime that can be attributed to My Bloody Valentine is that there wasn’t a slew of sequels and an eventual versus crossover movie with Jason Vorhees taking place on a Friday and Saturday in February. All kidding aside, My Bloody Valentine is one of the finest entries in the slasher genre and a welcome addition to any horror fans collection, one that I hope gets a sparkling new Blu-ray from one of the many speciality companies out there. Trust me, it’s well worth your time. Cross my heart-and hope to die!