Thursday, 27 October 2011



It's strange how tame old X movies can look these days. This typical 1981 slasher movie, regarded by some as a minor classic (enough to warrant a 3D remake a generation later) today sits comfortably as a 15 on DVD. It's a different world now: You actually have to work quite hard to get an 18 today, but back in the early 80s they were dishing out the equivalent Xs like sweets. It's not as if this movie is eye-poppingly graphic - the MPAA removed almost all of the bloody money shots long before the British censors got their scissory claws on it - and there's no nudity or even slightly explicit sex. What there is is a series of kill shots, substantially blunted, punctuating an implausible, illogical and downright ridiculous plot.

The small Canadian mining town of Valentine Bluffs hasn't commemorated St Valentine's Day in twenty years, ever since one Harry Warden went crazy following a mining disaster, and he's still said to walk the streets every February 14th, messily slaughtering anyone in an overtly romantic mood. Cut to the present (well, 1981) and the town is finally preparing to stage its first Valentine's Dance, defying the local miseryguts authority figures, defying the local bartender (who spends all his screen time doing his Crazy Ralph "You're all doomed!" routine), defying the legend of Harry Warden himself. But when the murders begin again, with fresh hearts delivered in heart-shaped candy boxes, and the dance is called off, the idiot teens organise their own secret party at the coal mine....

Much of My Bloody Valentine is absolute nonsense, although admittedly scarcely sillier than a lot of what goes on in dumb slasher movies. It requires that the killer knows exactly where everyone is at all times and can move around in total silence while wearing full mining gear (including a gas mask) and wielding a bloodstained pickaxe without anyone spotting him. It requires that the victims take turns to oblige the maniac by wandering off into the darkness of an unfamiliar setting where they can be ambushed without warning, rather than staying with all their friends in a brightly lit room. And it requires that not one but two couples are so insatiably hot for each other than their lust isn't dimmed by the idea of doing it in a coal mine. I mean, there are less erotically charged places to get it on - most Lidls, most Gents, Stevenage - but the underground "engine room" of a coal mine in the middle of the night doesn't seem to me like a prime location. Still, whatever turns you on.... Sadly, the only penetration going on involves pickaxes and skulls rather than anything romantic or sexual.

The version watched was an old British 35mm cinema print: pink, faded, scratched and jumpy, with the lovely old X at the front, and properly projected at the Prince Charles. The IMDb suggests that it's Quentin Tarantino's favourite slasher movie, but sadly it really isn't very good and doesn't really stack up against The Funhouse, Rosemary's Killer or at least three of the Friday The 13th series (including Part 5, which isn't great but it was my first Friday movie so I have a fondness for it). I wouldn't even rank it with the original Halloween II, which is also massively flawed and frequently illogical but I'll admit I rather like: certainly more than My Bloody Valentine which I really believe would be much better with the splatter payoffs put back in, and would earn it an extra star.


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