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My Bloody Valentine Main

My Bloody Valentine Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

My Bloody Valentine Large

Directed by George Mihalka
Written by John Beaird
1981, 93 minutes, Unrated
Released on February 11th, 2020

Starring:
Paul Kelman as T.J.
Lori Hallier as Sarah
Neil Affleck as Axel
Keith Knight as Hollis
Alf Humphreys as Howard
Cynthia Dale as Patty
Helene Udy as Sylvia

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Review:

The town of Valentine Bluffs lives in the shadow of a tragedy involving an explosion in the Hanniger mine that left five men dead. Harry Warden, the sole survivor of the blast, took bloody revenge on the supervisors who had abandoned their post that night to attend the town’s annual Valentine’s Day dance. He vowed to resume his killing spree if the event were ever held again. Twenty years later, his warning is ignored as the community prepares to revive the holiday tradition. As February 14th draws near, a new wave of murders begins with the hearts of the victims removed and sent to the police in large candy boxes. When the sheriff decides to cancel the dance at the last minute, a youthful group of miners decide to host their own party. This action escalates the body count, leaving a small number of partygoers trapped in the tunnels deep underground with a killer.

In the years following the one-two punch of Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980), Hollywood ushered in a wave of movies featuring the successful stalk-and-slash formula of nubile teenagers getting killed by masked psychopaths. The Golden Age of the slasher film (1978 – 1984) reached its peak in 1981, with more than a dozen titles being released, including The Burning, Final Exam, The Funhouse, Graduation Day, Happy Birthday to Me, Mother’s Day and Hell Night. None of these productions lost money.

One of the better efforts that year was the Canadian horror My Bloody Valentine, which includes many of the conventions found within the popular subgenre, but manages to put a fresh spin on the material. Rather than following a bunch of middle-class suburban high-school teens, this movie centers on a blue-collar community of young adults who work underground in a small mining town. Director George Mihalka (The Psychic) exceeds expectations with his accomplished visual style and storytelling abilities. John Beaird’s script is surprisingly lean and features some unique set pieces and an engaging love triangle at its heart. The setting of the third act, deep within the mine tunnels, is inherently creepy and claustrophobic. The characters are endearing and Mihalka draws solid performances from his cast of relative unknowns.

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Lori Hallier (Warning Sign) stars as Sarah, the woman caught up with feelings for both her current boyfriend Axel (Neil Affleck, Visiting Hours), and former beau T.J. (Paul Kelman, Black Roses), who wants to rekindle their relationship. T.J. and Axel used to be best friends, but T.J. has trouble moving on and has some anger management issues. Hollis (Keith Knight, Class of 1984), keeper of the peace and all-around nice guy, wants everyone to get along and is the most responsible person in the group. Bringing comic relief without being annoying is the goofy but likeable Howard (Alf Humphreys, Final Destination 2), who is always good for a laugh, but shows his true colors when things turn deadly.

My Bloody Valentine stands out among the slasher crowd and features the now-iconic image of the miner with his gas mask and pickax. Cinematographer Rodney Gibbons (Screamers) contributes some inspired camera work and creative lighting. The scenes in the tunnels are particularly effective with their atmospheric shadows and confined spaces. Composer Paul Zaza (Prom Night) delivers a winning score that helps ratchet up the tension. One of the biggest contributors behind the scenes is make-up legend Tom Burman (Prophecy), responsible for the impressive death scenes. Sadly, the MPAA ratings board was particularly harsh with this title and almost all of Burman’s work was cut out. In 2009, the censored material turned up on Blu-ray, timed to coincide with the release of the picture’s Hollywood remake – My Bloody Valentine 3D. The original remains a genre classic and is a perennial favorite for February viewings.

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Video and Audio:

Ten years ago, Lionsgate released this title on Blu-ray with the newly discovered trimmed content. The new footage was in rough shape and stuck out, but was a welcome addition for longtime fans. Scream Factory goes the extra mile and has tracked down the original uncut 35mm negative and provides a full 4K scan and restoration. Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the image is something of a revelation. This transfer shines in all ways possible, including improved color timing and bottomless black levels. With the exception of two brief shots, the uncensored material blends seamlessly with the rest of the movie, restoring the director’s original vision.

This disc drops the problematic expanded 5.1 surround mix from the previous Blu-ray, opting instead to focus on the original source recording with a lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono track that is in surprisingly good shape. Music cues are effective and well-balanced with the sound effects, particularly the miner’s ominous breathing. Dialogue levels are always understandable and free from hiss, pops or other forms of distortion.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

Disc 1: Theatrical Cut (90 minutes)

A bevy of newly recorded interviews with members of the cast and crew fill this disc, starting with director George Mihalka in An Anemic Valentine (24 minutes). He begins recounting how the project came together in a rather short amount of time and goes on to discuss the challenges of shooting on location in an underground mine. He talks about his approach to the material, casting, working with special f/x and the troubles with the MPAA ratings board that followed.

In From the Heart (14 minutes), actor Paul Kelman remembers the production candidly with his thoughts on his character, on staging the climactic fight scenes and the film’s enduring legacy. He is pretty frank when asked about the Canadian film community in the early ‘80s.

Axel, Be My Valentine (15 minutes) catches up with actor Neil Affleck, who relays several entertaining stories from the shoot, many about the cast and crew. He admits to not being much of a horror fan and is astonished by the film’s cult following.

Leading lady, Lori Hallier tells of the longtime friendships she made on this film in the segment Friends of Mine (19 minutes). She remembers the project as a positive experience and has kind words for Mihalka. She is appreciative of her fan base and supports the idea of making a sequel. She closes with recollections of some of the cast members who have since passed away.

Actress Helene Udy remembers her involvement on the picture in Becoming Sylvia (17 minutes). She praises the director and her co-stars and talks about shooting in a small town in Canada. She describes the filming of the shower scene and working with special effects.

In The Secret Keeper (27 minutes), actor Rob Stein talks about joining the cast and remembers the secrecy surrounding the identity of the killer. He also had fun making this picture and shows off his original shooting script.

Special make-up effects artist Tom Burman looks back on the project in Broken Hearts and Broken Bones (11 minutes) in which he begins with some blunt thoughts on the Canadian film industry. He goes on to reflect on the creative kills and the work that went into them and the disappointment that followed after the MPAA cuts.

Holes in the Heart (12 minutes) takes a look at the death scenes and how they differ between the theatrical version and the original uncensored edit in a side-by-side presentation.

The original theatrical trailer, three TV spots and two radio ads are included.

A still gallery (142 images) contains publicity shots, promotional stills, lobby cards and international poster art.

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Disc 2: Uncut version (93 minutes)

The film is preceded by a short director’s introduction (23 seconds).

In his audio commentary, George Mihalka shares a steady stream of information tracing the production history of this film. Some topics of discussion include the script and characters, filming in a remote town and an underground mine. He praises his cinematographer and f/x artist and is really pleased with seeing the uncut version of the film. There is an off-mic moderator prompting him with questions that are occasionally hard to hear and some of the answers are repeated in his on-camera interview on Disc 1, but this is a solid track worth checking out.

In celebration of the film’s 35th anniversary, Mihalka was joined onstage by several members of the cast for a reunion panel at The Bay of Blood Convention in Florida, in 2016 (47 minutes). Other participants include actors Lori Hallier, Helene Udy, Rob Stein, Peter Cowper, Thomas Kovacs, Jim Murchison and Alf Humphreys. Panel moderator Brian Singleton guides the discussion, giving everyone a chance to speak. Mihalka tells an amusing story about the actor who played the sheriff and also details a graphic scene that has been lost over the years. The cast reflect on the uncensored versions of their death scenes and everyone seems happy to be together with their fans.

At that same convention, actor Thomas Kovacs performs the film’s closing theme song “The Ballad of Harry Warden” (5 minutes). He is joined onstage by fellow actors Peter Cowper and Jim Murchison.

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Grades:

Movie: Fourstars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Fivestars
Audio: Threeandahalfstars
Features: Fourandahalfstars
Overall: 4.5 Star Rating

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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