How did St Valentine get associated with all the romantic bullshit about the day in his name? Historians can’t even decide which Valentine is the right one, since there are a handful of saints that pop up all over the place with that name. The origin of the shape of the heart might come from any number of sources, from the shape of a woman’s naughty bits to the shape of two swan necks to the shape of the seed of the silphium plant, used in ancient times as an herbal contraceptive. What’s known is that the date was superseded by the Church to take over a popular pagan holiday, Lupercalia, the way they did for Christmas, Easter and Bing Crosby’s birthday. The association with Romantic Love came along around Chaucer’s time, including flowery poetry, and the bits with the cards, flowers, chocolate and other crap exploded from Victorian days to encompass the world like a kitsch plague that costs idiots hundreds of millions in wasted money.
Am I cynical? Probably. Personal experience in the romance department has shown that you’re better off demonstrating your love in small but frequent ways, than waste time, money and effort on grand but ultimately disposable gestures. Unless you’re giving jewellery.
Or maybe a double DVD set of MY BLOODY VALENTINE, both the original 1981 movie (which I reviewed earlier) and the remake, which fortunately does not disappoint. Mostly.
We open with some economical storytelling through the opening credits, as we see headlines from 1997 detailing how Tom Henniger (Jensen Ackles), the son of the owner of the mine, forgot to bleed the methane lines, and caused an explosion and consequent cave-in that trapped six miners underground. Six days later, a rescue team broke through and found that only one of the miners, a comatose Harry Warden (Richard John Walters), survived, but evidence points to him having killed the others to conserve the air down there.
A year later, on Valentine’s Day, Warden wakes up, realises he’s been fed lime Jello all this time, and goes on a murderous rampage, leaving behind a ridiculously large body count that has Sheriff Burke (Tom Atkins, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS) flummoxed, especially the bit where Warden had cut out the heart of a nurse and put it in a candy box. Still, they figure he’s probably headed back to the mine and head that way.
At the mine, there’s a Valentine’s Day party with lots of Hollywood teens, including Axel Palmer (Kerr Smith), his girlfriend Irene (Betsy Rue), Tom Hanniger and his girlfriend Sarah (Jaime King). Tom was a little reluctant to show up there again, what with all that icky deaths he accidentally caused – what a party pooper! Axel and Irene head into the mine and Sarah follows, while Tom goes back to his car for some beers.
Down below, teens gets killed by Warden, clad in his miner’s gear again including breathing mask and and others flee, and Tom arrives, distracting Warden while his friends flee. The killer in pursuit, Axel, Irene and Sarah drive off, having no choice but to leave Tom behind. Fortunately Sheriff Burke arrives in time to shoot Warden. A wounded Warden makes his escape into the mine.
Flash forward to ten years later. Axel became the Sheriff, married Sarah and had a son, but still has time to bump uglies with Megan (Megan Boone), Sarah’s co-worker at the local grocery store, who reveals he’s pregnant with Axel’s child- ahh, small town soap operas. Meanwhile, Tom returns to the town after a decade to bury his father and sell the mine, and hasn’t seen his old friends after that little abandonment at the mine.
As for Irene, she’s busy having sex in the local motel with a trucker named Frank (Todd Farmer, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie) but gets angry with him when she catches him filming their sex – classy. He leaves and she storms after him, naked except for her heels, in time to catch him being killed by a masked figure hiding in his truck. The killer pursues her back to her room – yes, still naked, because why not? – interrupted only by Selene (Selene Luna), the vertically-challenged motel owner who gets herself impaled on the ceiling. Irene quickly follows, and when Axel investigates the crime scene, he discovers that Tom Hanniger is staying at the motel, and based on the trucker’s camera, he’d been peeping on the couple moments before their deaths. Dirty boy!
The bodycount continues, and Tom is set up time and again as the obvious suspect. But is he? And if not, who? And why?
MY BLOODY VALENTINE has a lot going in its favour, including a full embrace of its original 3D status (I remember the first movie I saw that was originally released in 3D, the original HOUSE OF WAX, which featured a three minute sequence of a guy doing nothing more than hitting a paddle ball into the audience. MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D doesn’t have anything that gratuitous, but anyone who went to see this in the theatre won’t feel cheated having to pay extra for those goofy glasses. The body parts do fly out at you.
Speaking of which, they don’t cheat on the blood and guts either (that this was probably the only R-Rated 3D movie I can think of is noteworthy). And the kills are plentiful and politically incorrect (unless of course I’m being old-fashioned, and having a midget pinned to the ceiling is just blasé). The leads do well, and it’s always a pleasure to see Tom Atkins in work, he’s a solid, dependable player and adds to every movie he’s in. And the look of the killer remains impressive – and functional.
In fact,the only big drawback to the movie is the over-reliance on CGI, which, when combined with a 3D emphasis that is lacking when watched in plain old 2D, makes some of the gags look cartoonish. I loved watching the 1981 predecessor, with its practical effects, and though I won’t lie and say they’re flawless, they’re at least something that looks like the actors can see them. Surely we can find some middle ground? WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?
Ahem. MY BLOODY VALENTINE is available in all formats, and the trailer is below.
Director: Patrick Lussier
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 8 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Deggsy. In 3 1/2 D.