When slasher films dominated the local theater chains way back in the '80s, holidays seemed to be the sensible starting place to develop your fear franchise. Halloween had proven profitable, and Friday the 13th definitely scared up big bucks. So why not milk the rest of the festival calendar and see what transpires? Sadly, for every April Fool's Day, there was a Happy Birthday to Me.
For a long time, a cult has centered around one of the era's most talked about titles: My Bloody Valentine. With most of its violence cut out and a "blue collar" perspective on the carnage, it remains for many a good time guilty pleasure. Now Lionsgate has seen fit to remake the movie, using an old '50s gimmick as a selling point -- and you know what, it works like a blood-spattered charm. Article continues below
The setup is familiar. Ten years ago, the only survivor of a horrible mining accident -- a man named Harry Warden -- went on an inhuman killing spree. When it was all over, 22 people were dead, with only good friends Alex (Kerr Smith), Sarah (Jaime King), Irene (Betsy Rue), and Tom (Jensen Ackles) left to tell the tale. Now, bodies are piling up once again, and ex-sheriff Burke (Tom Atkins) and local businessman Ben Foley (Kevin Tighe) think that Warden has returned. But Axel, now the current lawman, has a different theory. He's targeting Tom, recently returned from nearly a decade in self-imposed exile and desperate to sell the mine and having rekindled his romance with Sarah, who oddly enough, is married to his old buddy. Still, the visage of Warden looms large.
My Bloody Valentine 3-D is shameless. It panders. It exploits. It hits below the belt and keeps delivering cheap shots deliciously. It is one of the most blatantly gore-filled fright films in recent memory, starting off insane and just getting nastier from there. A lot of credit has to go to writers Todd Farmer and Zane Smith, as well as director Patrick Lussier. They have remained faithful to the 1981 original while recognizing the need to update the entire slasher genre for a 2009 audience. This isn't some film filled with stunt-inspired, Rube Goldbergian deaths. Instead, our killer metes out punishment with a pick axe and nothing else. But the brutality of his efforts, matched by the amazingly graphic special effects, excuses any lapse in slice and dice mythos.
This is a craven crowd pleaser, the kind of old school scarefest that should have teens tweaking in their seats while shouting back at the screen. Lussier and the gang leave nothing to chance. One sequence features a good five minutes of nearly continuous full frontal female nudity, including the standard slayer square off and butchering. Another finds Atkins wandering through a collection of hacked up corpses, offal strewn everywhere. And just when it looks like things will calm down and the script will focus on characterization and formulaic love triangles, our gas-masked fiend shows up and starts swinging again. This version of My Bloody Valentine must have the highest body count of any recent fright film -- maybe ever.
The 3-D also helps. The feeling of depth, plus the lack of restraint employed in using the dimensional device, really adds to the excitement. We don't get too many of the obvious Dr. Tongue moments, and the effect aids in giving the inevitable false shocks added emphasis. Still, Lussier knows what gets butts in theater seats and there is sure to be some buzz about the ample arterial spray on display. My Bloody Valentine 3-D actually rivals several of the Saw films in the amount of vein juice spilled in pursuit of a plotline -- and it's infinitely more fun. All remakes should follow this unapologetically in-your-face effort.