[reviews by J Kerswell and Joseph Henson]
Justin: To say expectations were high for this remake of 1981's much loved (at least by me) slasher flick would be putting it mildly. Of course, I'll never learn (I even got goose bumps during the trailer for the FRIDAY THE 13TH redux!). The good news is that MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D is not the desecration and utter shambles that Rob Zombie spewed out when he put HALLOWEEN through his decidedly unappetising mangle a few years back. On the other hand, despite a few standout scenes and the much trumpeted third dimension, Patrick Lussier's redux ironically falls flat more often than it hits you between the eyes.
An accident at the Hanniger mines (now moved south of the border to Pennsylvania), caused by the owner's son, Tom (Jensen Ackles), traps several men underground. One of them, Harry Warden (Richard John Walters) kills all the others to save air; when he is rescued he is the lone survivor, but slips into a coma. However, Warden doesn't stay under for long. Waking in a particularly bad mood, he rampages through the hospital killing everyone he comes across (this happens off screen, but we do see the after effects of the mayhem, including a body ripped in two and a torso with a hollow where the heart should be).
Meanwhile, the town's local teenagers are holding a party at the mines. Axel (Kerr Smith) and his girlfriend Irene (Betsy Rue) are joined by Sarah (Jaime King) and her beau, Tom. However, even before a ring pull is pulled, Harry Warden turns up with his trusty pick axe and breaks up the party in the bloodiest way imaginable. Tom, Axel, Irene and Sarah barely escape with their lives after the police, including Burke (Tom Atkins), shoot Warden, who limps off into the depths of the mines as they collapse around him. 22 people loose their lives that night.
Ten years later, Tom returns to town following his father's death to sell his share of the Hanniger mines. His return causes a mixed reaction in town, with many still blaming him for the deaths of the miners and horrified that he is selling out. Sarah is now married to Axel, and they have a young son. However, Axel is having an affair with Sarah's co-worker who has just declared that she's pregnant. Sarah is immediately torn between her wayward husband and their son (not to mention her humdrum job in the local supermarket) and her handsome ex-boyfriend who vanished ten years ago.
Much to Axel's annoyance, the media are camped out on the run up to the anniversary of the massacre ten years ago. Their hints that violence may rock the small town again turns out to be more than wishful tabloid thinking when the pick axe murders start once more. Has Harry Warden returned to continue his bloody rampage, or is someone else now donning the gas mask?
Of course, it's tempting to only compare remakes with the originals. In this case the answer is that MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D is not a patch on the original. The 1981 film distinguished itself from other slasher movies of the era by peopling the mayhem with adults in their late 20s. The remake does, too, but one of its strengths (the remake's three leads certainly do provide the eye candy - and then some) also means that the scenario never rings true (the handsome Ackles looks like he'd be more at home at a gym than getting dirty underground). The town of Valentine Bluffs in the original also rang true as a place down on its luck; a little dog-eared around the edges - but the town in the remake (Harmony) never feels anything more than a set.
However, like the redux of BLACK CHRISTMAS (2006) (which isn't a patch on the original either, but satisfies on its own goofy terms when watched in isolation) MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D is not a complete miss by any means. As a testament to the original, it stood up even after being infamously butchered by the MPAA (and thanks to the new DVD from Lionsgate we can finally see it in all its uncut glory). The remake has little restrictions in that area (although rumour has it snips were called for by censors to a particularly risque scene - including a 3D money shot!). Lussier thinks of every single way to off someone with a pickaxe - and in loving, unflinching close-up eyeballs pop from heads; a jaw is ripped off; and blood and guts fly out of the screen. Well, they should. Whilst much of the 3D worked when I saw it, somewhat perversely it seems that Lussier was slightly hesitant to really make the most of the gimmick. Admittedly, watching, say, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 in its flat version, the sight of a yo-yo being bounced towards the screen can be a little off-putting (to say the least). However, these effects worked wonderfully in 3D (I had the pleasure of seeing it at a one-off screening a few years ago). The 3D effects in MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D are variable, but it's perhaps ironic that the most impressive effect is the Lionsgate logo at the beginning of the film!
Whilst Lussier ups the gore ante, he also takes that other old slasher standby to the max. MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D features what is perhaps the most gratuitous nude scene in the history of the subgenre, but it is a testament to Lussier's light touch here that it doesn't feel overly exploitative - and straddles the line between humour and the macabre.
However, perhaps tellingly, the admittedly sold-out audience I saw the film with didn't shriek or appear to jump once throughout. You can wrap a film up in all the 3D gimmickry you want, but its the solid thrills and spills that need to be delivered. There are one or two standout scenes (including a particularly tense section where the killer stalks a couple in a deserted supermarket). However, Lussier could learn the trick that less is often more: the abundant bodycount (I lost track at 29) could have been lessened to allow for more time to build suspense. The opening scenes, especially, feel rushed.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D nods to the original in a number of ways, including death by tumble dryer (done much better in the original, especially in the new uncut print); as well as certain shots (the shadow of the killer appearing on the wall behind Sarah); and mining uniforms falling from the rafters. The psychotic miner is still a potent boogeyman, but again his effectiveness wanes when compared to the original. Without giving anything away, the ending is also more overblown and gleefully ridiculous than the original (not in itself a bad thing) - culminating in a fireball which, although engulfing the killer sans mask, doesn't even scorch his eyebrows!
Perhaps I was expecting too much of MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D
but it left me with a hollow feeling afterwards. Paradoxically, much of the
joy with slasher movies is the repetition of detail, but to really invest in
the well being of the characters you have to care for them. The irony is that
for a 3D film the characters are decidedly two dimensional. I didn't hate MY
BLOODY VALENTINE 3D (for a scathing review see the one from The
Bodycount Continues' Joseph below). Clearly the makers had some love for
the original. I feel slightly schizophrenic: on one hand I appreciated the old-school,
hard R-rated mayhem, but I felt peculiarly uninvolved in the film (again, ironic
given the would-be immersive technology). Ultimately, I thought the remake was
middling at best (even when not compared to the 1981 film). Perhaps with any
sequel they can step the gears down a notch and make a film where the manic
miner really fulfils his demented potential to scare the pants off audiences.
Joseph: Will the real Harry Warden please stand up?
Like a pick-axe to the gut, MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D is a savage mockery of what made the original film such a fascinating slasher. Missing is the folksy, jovial characters, the dread that permeated the small town setting, and the tension that stewed in the cavernous mines where Harry planted his weapon of choice in the torsos of several unsuspecting victims. My scorn for this film reaches far and wide, and like eating one too many chocolates from a heart-shaped box, I'm left with nothing but a painful feeling in my stomach that will not subside.
Selling this reworking is its third-dimensional gimmick, which, quite frankly, gave me a headache. I'm all for technology and finding new ways to thrill audiences, but when your selling point gives the viewer a sense of queasy uneasiness, you're in trouble. There were times when a specific effect was obviously just that: an effect. That should never be the focal point of a slasher movie killing. Prosthetics and fake blood sell a murder better than blurred lenses and filters ever could, and watching MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D switch from fuzzy foreground shots to blurry background shots in quick succession put a real hurting on my field of vision. The best thing I can say is that 3D technology has a long, winding road to travel before it can be perfected; the worst I can say is that MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D took a wrong turn on that road.
Since the 3D effects are shoddy, at best, one might think the creative geniuses behind this film would tell an involving story; however, taking into account that DRACULA 2000 and JASON X are the shining achievements on the resumes of director Patrick Lussier and screenwriter Todd Farmer, that theory is shot to hell.
The original My Bloody Valentine worked a solid slasher movie premise in with a sometimes-real look at small town, blue-collar life. It was filled with a rich tapestry of amusing characters who worked their fingers to the bone for a living, talked like they enjoyed a beer after a hard day's work, and had a warm, general affection for one-another. The Gucci models and hammy character actors roped into making what are essentially stunt casting cameos in this retelling do not give off the same vibe; the only discernable traits from one character to another here were patches of facial hair and, in some cases, skin color. Anyone remember the loveable Hollis? He's not here. Howard Landers? He's nowhere to be found. Even the believable love triangle that was the linchpin of the original film is reduced to a footnote here. Finally, the outcome of Harry Warden's wrath, or the film's twist, which I won't spoil for those of you who haven't seen this film and are curious, is the exact same twist that has been used in several recent films, one of which involved a narcoleptic malcontent and another that involved a psychotic trucker. Ooops. Didn't mean to spoil that mind-shattering revelation. Heart-breaking, isn't it?
There is a silver lining to be had with all of this; after twenty-eight long years, the release of MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D made way for the re-release of the original film in all of its uncut glory on DVD; something many people thought would never happen. On that note, I'm awarding MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D one star. If suffering through yet another remake that doesn't understand the concept of what truly makes a slasher film work is the price we have to pay to finally be handed the perfection we desire, then I suppose it's a price worth paying.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D is a waste of time in any dimension. It exists in one where remakes run rampant, where the Rob Zombies of the world are turning iconic killers into white trash soliloquies, and Michael Bay is producing a remake of FRIDAY THE 13TH that will surely see Jason turned into an action movie hero worthy of the late Don Simpson's approval. That dimension is 2009, and it's a sad one we live in.
female:10 / male:19
1) Male found dead
2) Female found dead (heart missing)
3) Female found dead
4) Female found dead
5) Male found dead (cut in half)
6) Male found dead
7) Male found dead
8) Female found dead
9) Male found dead
10) Male found dead
11) Male found dead
12) Male found dead
13) Female found dead
14) Male found dead
15) Male found dead
16) Male gets pick axe through back of his head and his eye pops out
17) Female found dead
18) Male found dead
19) Male found dead
20) Male gets pick axe through his face
21) Female gets shovel through her mouth
22) Male gets pick axe through the top of his head
23) Female gets pick axe through chin and lifted through the ceiling
24) Female gets pick axe through the stomach
25) Male gets pickaxe through wrist and forehead
26) Male gets pick axe through eye socket
27) Female tumble dried to death
28) Male has pick axe through face and his jaw ripped off
29) Male gets pick axe through his eye