Directed by George Mihalka [Other horror films: The Blue Man (1985), Psychic (1991), Relative Fear (1994)]
What’s the best slasher ever made?
I’ll save you time, and just admit it’s Halloween, which is a spectacular flick. But what’s the second-best slasher ever made? Well, say no more, because it’s My Bloody Valentine.
Truthfully, I don’t know exactly why I love this movie as much as I do. I mean, I love all the performances, I think the story’s fantastic, the killer’s interesting, the theme track very enjoyable, the kills amazing, the setting is great and everything else is flawless, but as for specifics, it’s difficult.
Let’s spend a few minutes (INB4ITSHOURS) on the performances. Here’s a list of those who stood out: Don Francks (as sheriff, very solid and memorable performance), Keith Knight (Hollis is perhaps one of my favorite characters from a slasher film), Neil Affleck (Axel is pretty fun all-around), Lori Hallier (‘Sarah, be my bloody valentine’), Paul Kelman (T.J. is a solid mystery here), Alf Humphreys (good comic relief in a believable way), Cynthia Dale (really loved her character here, plus she’s Hollis’ girl, so you know she’s fun), Rob Stein (very memorable look), and his girl Helene Udy.
What works here is that all of these characters feel like they live in a small town where most men work in the mines and the girls wait for them to get out and go out to drink. This movie feels incredibly real to me, and while it’s somewhat odd how some of the girls dress more like it’s the 1950’s than the early 80’s, it doesn’t really do anything to impact my view on this. I love the small-town mentality, where everyone knows everyone, and these teenagers really pulled it off, not to mention Don Francks (the sheriff Newby), Larry Reynolds (the mayor), and Patricia Hamilton.
The design of the killer is just amazing. It’s simple, what with a mining suit and a pickaxe, but it’s damn effective, and one of my favorite scenes in the annals of horror is when the killer is walking through the mine, smashing his pickaxe into the hanging lights. The characters can’t see him, but they hear the lights breaking, and it’s just amazingly great. Plus, he writes killer rhymes (‘It happened once. It happened twice. Cancel the dance or it’ll happen thrice’).
Many bring up the song from Madman, but I think, without a doubt, ‘The Ballad of Harry Warden‘ blows it away. The song’s good lyrically and musically, and fits beautifully into the credits following the insane laughter of the killer. It’s on my iTunes, so it’s not good just for the movie or for horror-themed songs, but for any occasion.
If you watch the film with the cuts in, you’ll probably have an okay time, but if you get the uncut version, then you really have a lot of fun. A guy has his head boiled while he’s held down. A woman is struck by a pickaxe and thrown into a dryer. A girl is impaled on a shower-head. A double-impalement by a drill. Nailgun to the head and hung as so the body detaches. And a favorite of mine, a man pickaxed through the face, causing an eye to hang out (you know the MPAA took that one out before you could say ‘there should be no MPAA’). God, this is solid gore, and it’s a shame that the movie’s existed so long without the uncut scenes, as many people who see the cut version won’t realize how solid this stuff is. I’ve watched the cut version once, and like I said, it’s still a good movie, but seeing the gore in whole just completes the good times.
Like I said, I really like the setting of My Bloody Valentine. It’s a small town (named Valentine Bluffs – who couldn’t love that?) with a main industry of mining. Few are going to college after high school – they’re going to the mines, and those who do try to get out just end up back home (poor T.J. – I always wondered what mistakes he made out west). But was Hollis particularly sad about his fortune? Not so much, nor was Axel, nor do any of the characters seem particularly disheartened. The bar is always lively (despite the grumpy bartender, appropriately named Happy and played brilliantly by Jack Van Evera, who died just the following year), and even the junkyard is a place to just chill. I love the vibe here, and though it’s entirely different from my experience growing up, I find it somehow relatable.
Without a doubt, My Bloody Valentine is one of my favorite horror movies. There’s nothing I don’t like about it, and I watched it something like three times in the first week I bought it. It has everything I look for in a slasher, including an interesting mystery (with some red herrings thrown in), a great atmosphere, a very memorable setting (being stalked in a mine has never been done so well), lovable characters (Hollis and Patty), and all-in-all, My Bloody Valentine never fails to impress me.
And to hear my gush about the film, look no futher than Fight Evil’s podcast, where Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I spoke about the film.