[ click here for the latest update: 28th May 2002 ] I love early 80's slasher movies (in guess you hadn't guessed!), and MY BLOODY VALENTINE holds a special place in my, er, heart. It has everything- thrills, spills and just enough cheese to satisfy. There's only one thing that's missing from the film and that's the footage hacked out of it by the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA)- the cads, prior to its initial theatrical run in the US, back in 1981.
What's worse is that this censorship botch job is done with all the sensitivity of a butcher, and the cuts are painfully obvious.
Now, there's good news and there's bad news- and I guess we might as well get the latter with over and done with first. The worst news is that, it seems, that Paramount still have the rights to the movie. Why's that so bad I hear you say? Well, Paramount are the goody-two-shoes of the Hollywood studio system, and have reputedly gone on record as stating that they will not release any un-rated movies with their name attached- and the only way we're ever going to see this movie uncut is with an un-rated release. Of course, the studio's family image doesn't prevent them from milking all the mileage they can from emasculated horror movies- the recent DVD releases of FRIDAY THE 13TH's 1 and 2 are more than enough evidence of that.
And there's more, I'm afraid. Apparently director, George Mihalka, has said that he has no interest in seeing a complete version put together (see evidence to the contrary later) - and even if Paramount were willing to release a special un-rated version of MY BLOODY VALENTINE there's no evidence that the censored footage still exists - or is there? (It does exist!)
Well, back in 1980, FRIDAY THE 13TH was awarded an uncut 'X' cinema certificate when it went to the BBFC, in the UK. This is opposed to the American version which, I believe, had to be cut for an 'R'-rating. There is evidence that the same thing happened with MY BLOODY VALENTINE in 1981. At first it was someone's Mum's recollection of the film looking gorier at the cinema than on video, but then a bit of investigation revealed that the Internet Movie Database also lists the film as playing uncut on UK screens along with a double-bill of Tobe Hooper's THE FUNHOUSE. OK, so that may not be the most reliable source but I chatted recently with ace genre journalist Alan Jones who confirmed that the film did indeed play uncut on British screens; the hard facts are: the BBFC website lists the UK Cinema version as running at 90m 55s and the Video version at 86m 21s (From this it appears, allowing for 24fps/25fps that the video version is about 1m shorter than the cinema version). Interestingly the BBFC does not admit to have censored anything from either version. The most likely answer is that the video version (from 1989) is identical to the old UK pre-certificated CIC tape, which in turn was almost certainly identical to the US R-rated video release. FRIDAY THE 13TH, on the other hand was released to UK video shops, on the Warner Bros label, completely uncut (before being pruned of the more gratuitous violence by the BBFC at a later date).
So, at the very least, there should be a few prints left knocking around in some dusty broom cupboards in the UK. If any company did want to re-master the film and release it as it was meant to be seen then it certainly seems a possibility- especially as I hear a DVD may be in the offing!
To give you a taster of what we are probably missing (although these may have been on-set shots as opposed to from the film itself) here are some photos that originally appeared in Fangoria to give you some idea of the gory devastation the manic miner really did wreak.
[ Update 28th May 2002] : OK, I know it's been a long time since the last update but, believe me, wheels have been turning regardless. ... Some pretty interesting (and some pretty frustrating) news, on the eve of the (bound to be R-rated) DVD release from Paramount, about the fate of the uncut version of one the early 80's most beloved slasher flicks. Firstly, some information I got from Thom, who knows director George Mihalka, from Canada:
"George Mihalka, director of My Bloody Valentine and a sometime acquaintance of mine, is indeed interested in seeing his director's cut released some day (your site states the contrary). In fact, he once told me that over the years, both he and John Dunning (producer of MBV) have approached Paramount regarding this, as well as the possibility of a sequel, but were rebuffed each time. It appears that so long as Paramount's puritanical policies remain in place, their horror library is doomed to censorship."
... so, at least Mihalka would be interested in seeing the film put out in its complete version. However, as Thom later told me:
"A few years ago, I asked George if he had a personal copy of his director's cut. Unfortunately, he does not. Under the terms of his contract, he was provided a 35mm print of the film, but it's the cut theatrical print. Basically, the film's post-production was done in Montreal. Once George had completed his director's cut, all of the elements were shipped to L.A. Paramount then struck a print and submitted it to the MPAA for a rating. When it came back with an X, Paramount made the necessary cuts without consulting George since he didn't have final cut approval anyhow. Of course, he now regrets not having the foresight to make a copy for himself before shipping it off."
However, shortly after hearing this disappointing news I was contacted by Adam Rockoff, the author of the upcoming GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM, 1978-1986. He had interviewed for the book such slasher movie luminaries as John Carpenter, Sean Cunningham, Bill Lustig, Irwin Yablans, Roger Spottiswoode and Jack Sholder. George Mihalka, however, did not respond to an interview request, but John Dunning (MY BLOODY VALENTINE's producer) did. This is what Adam told me:
"While writing my book I interviewed John Dunning, producer of both My Bloody Valentine and Happy Birthday to Me (along with House by the Lake and Rabid, as well). He admits the film was butchered by the MPAA. Hardly one to shy away from gore, he also has always wanted to release a fully uncut version. About a year and a half ago, while cleaning out his office vault he found the footage which the MPAA cut. He contacted Paramount but they didn't seem to have any interest in restoring the film. So, as of now, he still has it in his possession. While we may be no closer to getting an uncut release at least you know it truly does exist. Hope you enjoyed this story."
... naturally, enjoy it I did! It was the first concrete sighting of the 'lost' footage. I was eager to hear more, but the next news came as something of a surprise:
enough, Dunning told me that he holds the rights to a sequel to MBV, with
Paramount getting right of first refusal. ... a sequel to MBV never was
made so maybe Dunning does have some ownership. By the way, according
to him, he has a treatment for a sequel, but nothing was ever officially
(or even unofficially) scripted."
"Although Dunning does not have a print of the film, he does have the negative. And wait until you hear this. . . 8-9 minutes of cut scenes, which means itís a little bit more than a snip or two here and there. I can only imagine what they are.
Now, on to Paramount. He said that Paramount owns the rights in the States for another year. After that, thereís some clause that allows them to renew them for another 10 years for $1.00! This sounds, to say the least, bizarre to me, but who am I to argue? He also said there is no truth that Paramount is interested in releasing the uncut version. He said the studio would NEVER release a film without a rating, and if he inserted the new footage, it would never get by the MPAA with an R. But again, he might not be privy to what goes on behind closed doors at the studio.
Hereís some more juicy info. ... Dunning almost has the script completed for My Bloody Valentine II. The premise is that the mines have been converted into an amusement park (or as he put it, a "thrill show"). Now, as kids begin to go through the park, Dunning plans to insert the original cut footage! So to say the least, heís not about to let that footage languish in his vaults."Unfortunately, despite a promising start, it turned out that Paramount owned the rights to the film in Germany after all (even though, it seems, it is banned there!) - I was able to find out (and it was amazing how difficult it was!) after a contact at Paramount UK did some snooping (thanks, Simon!). Dragon were told the same thing roughly the same time and so had no choice but to abandon plans to put the film out there (they said there was no chance that Paramount would license it out to them, and if they did it would be prohibitively expensive). There was briefly some talk about them investing in the proposed sequel but they decided it was not for them at this time, which is fair enough. So, presently John Dunning is trying to secure funding to get the sequel made - and this may be our only chance of seeing the censored footage. Or is it? ...
There are continuing rumours that the film was released uncut in Asian territories, on VHS and laserdisc. I'm currently trying to ascertain if this is correct, but it is amazingly difficult to track down Western videos for sale in Asia (although, I have some leads - thanks, Thom!). ... Also, British company Midnight Media are hosting cinéXS 2, a one day horror film festival on the 1st June, at Welwyn Garden City, which says they are screening the "uncut" version of MY BLOODY VALENTINE. I can't go myself, but am hoping to get a report back to find out whether this is indeed the full uncut version or the slightly longer British cinema version (just with the extra arm ripping at the end). ... And last, but certainly not least, I have to keep fairly scthum about it but there are still moves afoot to get the film restored (more details when I can tell them). Remember, the previously thought missing footage is found - it can only be a matter of time before the film emerges uncut, Paramount or no Paramount!
For previous updates (including what was cut) go here.
PHYSICAL ADDRESS: MR. ROB FRIEDMAN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE MOTION PICTURES GROUP Paramount Pictures 5555 Melrose Avenue Hollywood, CA 90038
DVD CONSUMER HOTLINE: 1-323-956-8070 (in the US)
...you never know, Paramount may have second thoughts; at least they'll know that we aren't going to let 'em get away with it quietly!
[Thanks to the following who made this rant possible: Joseph Henson (fellow uncut slasher flick freedom fighter!), Scott Grantham (for the pics), Alan Jones, Will Kay (JASON UNBOUND), Tim Rogerson, John Charles, Adam Rockoff, Simon Caleb, John Dunning, Michael Kraetzer, Thomas Parkinson and a coupla others whose names I've misplaced (apologies to those).]