[Blu-ray Review] Scream Factory's Collector's Edition of 'My Bloody Valentine' is Bloodier than Ever!
Looking for a horror film that will give you a heart on this Valentine’s Day? Look no further than Scream Factory’s glorious new 2-disc collector’s edition of the 1981 slasher classic, My Bloody Valentine…
…When we look back at slasher films from the 80s, we tend to think of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday the 13th, etc., but the one that is almost unanimously beloved yet never got a franchise like it should have, is director George Mihalka’s My Bloody Valentine. Written by John Beaird with a story from Stephen A. Miller, the film takes place in the not-so-subtly named mining town of Valentine Bluffs, which is celebrating Valentine’s Day for the first time since a deranged miner named Harry Warden slaughtered a bunch of people on Valentine’s Day. But as the holiday approaches, bodies begin to pile up, and it seems as if Harry may be back for revenge.
For those that have never seen My Bloody Valentine, the film essentially follows a trio of bleeding hearts caught in a love triangle with Sarah (Lori Hallier), Axel (Neil Affleck) and down on his luck T.J. (Paul Kelman), back in the grimy mining town of Valentine Bluffs after fucking up his life elsewhere. Heavy doses of laughable male chauvinism ensue, as Axel and T.J., both wanting to claim Sarah as their girl, argue over her, exchange fists over her, and grab her like she’s a juicy piece of protein. Luckily, some terrifically graphic killings begin occurring with the arrival of T.J., and we’re occasionally relieved of the constant chest pumping to hang out with Chief Newby (Don Francks) as he drives around town looking for the murderer, always just within reach of the killer, and always conveniently just missing him. Various suspects are established, teens party and screw, all leading to a frightening showdown in the mines and one massive cliffhanger.
Scream Factory has brought us two versions of the film, with disc one containing the original theatrical cut, and disc two, the prize of the collection, containing an all new director’s cut, which has restored various gore shots that are available for the very first time!
If you’re not immediately blown away by Scream Factory’s pristine restoration, a 4K scan of the original camera negative, then you will be just moments into the director’s cut of the film when Harry claims his first victim following some sexy miner cosplay (inspired by BDSM, as Mihalka claims on the commentary), stabbing the poor girl through the heart and her heart-shaped tattoo. Why? Because not only is it a great kill, but the director’s cut on the disc features extended footage of multiple gore scenes that were cut from the original, and finally available here in all of their bloody glory.
Scream Factory has added roughly three more minutes to the theatrical version with this director’s cut, and much of that is thanks to the additional gore. Special effects designer Tom Burman created some inventive kills for this film, and it’s a joy to finally see them as nasty as the film gods intended. Steamed, soggy bodies roll around endlessly in dryers. Heads are torn off, and not at all cleanly. Eyes pop out. The extra carnage is consistently cheer-worthy, and while there’s nothing new added to the plot, it feels like watching a whole new version of the gory classic. A Valentine’s Day gift wrapped in a heart shaped box dripping with blood, if you will. The only disappoint here, as Mihalka adds, is that much of the kill footage is still lost, and moments he describes, such as watching the skin melt off of a boiling face all in one long, shocking take, are those that fans would kill to see. Hearing about them and knowing we’ll never see those moments makes the heart ache.
But what’s there is as sharp as Harry’s pickaxe.
My Bloody Valentine has always been a favorite holiday horror, and now it’s as bright red as ever before. Any fan of the film knows that it is loaded with red and pink Valentine’s Day imagery, and those colors, along with the gallons of blood, pop brighter and richer in such a way that you can practically smell the cheap construction paper. This is as clean as a cheap horror flick shot in a grimy mining town could ever look.
Despite the over-the-top kills and atmospheric setting (there are few things scarier than being hunted by a killer deep in a mineshaft), the most iconic element of My Bloody Valentine is the killer him/herself, stomping around town in a miner’s outfit with an axe to grind. Thanks to the remastered audio, you can really hear the miner’s heart problems as he/she struggles to breathe in the suit, their ragged hyperventilating filling the screen and setting nerves and paramedics on edge.
As for the special features, the two-disc set is loaded with interviews, including all three starring teens, Mihalka, and Tom Burman. These interviews are delightful, as most center around similar questions, such as, “did you know who the killer was,” (Mihalka withheld that information from the cast until the last two days of shooting), and it’s interesting to hear how they all respond, especially Neil Affleck, who claims he always knew. Sure you did, Neil. We also get a look at a full Q&A session during the 35th anniversary reunion panel at Bay of Blood in Tampa, which features cast/crew discussing their experiences on the film, and fun tidbits like the fact that the town they were shooting in cleaned up the mine to make it look sparkling new, and so a crew had to be flown in to dirty it up. That sure was nice of them to clean up for the Hollywood folk, though.
The feature worth romanticizing over here is of course, the commentary with director George Mihalka on the director’s cut. We listen as Mihalka watches the new cut for the first time and is practically giddy over seeing the restored gore moments put back in the film. He also drops all the info you could ever want to know about My Bloody Valentine, describing the gore we’ll never see, and the intricacies of the miner’s walk. The only issue here? The moderator doesn’t have a mic, so his questions are often difficult to hear and intrude on the flow of the discussion now and then.
And then there’s the Holes in the Heart feature, which puts the gore moments from the theatrical and director’s cut side by side to duel like Axel and T.J. over your heart, a duel that is never really fair, just in case you need a definitive look at just how much better the director’s cut is.
Whatever copy of My Bloody Valentine you have, get rid of it. Donate it to the local library. Give it to a friend. Throw it down a mineshaft. Whatever you need to do, just make sure you pick up the collector’s edition from Scream Factory, available February 11th. Once you watch the director’s cut, you’ll break up with the theatrical cut forever.
I bloody heart this collector’s edition.
DISC ONE: THEATRICAL VERSION
DISC TWO: UNCUT VERSION
By Matt Konopka