My Bloody Valentine (1981)

I didn’t see My Bloody Valentine when it first came out; in fact, until last night I had never seen it. In 1981, My Bloody Valentine was a violent and somewhat original film. In 2014, it comes off as just another slasher film.

My Bloody Valentine borrows almost every film trope seen previously in Friday the 13th. Both films feature a child who grew up to be a killer. Both killers wear masks. If you have sex during the movie, you’re probably going to die. Both like sticking sharp objects through people’s chests. Sure, one of them prefers machetes while the other wields a pick ax, but that’s really splitting skulls — er, straws. It’s hard to remember a time when these staples of the horror genre hadn’t been beaten to death (both figuratively and literally).

The film takes place in Valentine Bluffs, a mining town that also happened to be the site of a horrible mining tragedy twenty-years prior. Harry Worden, a miner, was trapped underground and forced to eat the bodies of his co-workers to survive, an act that made him insane. Valentine Bluffs hasn’t celebrated Valentine’s Day since the day of the accident, but when they decide to, Harry Worden (OR IS IT?) returns with an ax to grind. Again, literally.

Worden, who appears wearing a miner’s mask to hide his identity, has a habit of cutting people’s hearts out and leaving them in heart-shaped boxes (along with tacky poems) for the local authorities. Once the sheriff realizes Worden is back he tries to call off the local Valentine’s dance, but the townsfolk go around his back and have a party anyway… with bloody results.

There’s a love triangle and a whodunnit mystery going on amidst all of this, but the real stars are the kills — brutal and realistic, especially by 1981 standards. So brutal and real in fact that the MPAA cut somewhere between 3 and 9 minutes (depending on who’s telling the story) to get the film down to an R-rating. The 2009 DVD release has the cut footage reinserted. Again, by today’s standards it’s rather mild, but at the time it must have been over the top.

I didn’t think My Bloody Valentine was bad, I just felt like I had seen before — and if you’ve watched more than a couple slasher films, you have too. I felt more like I was paying respect to the film by watching it than anything. My Bloody Valentine is considered to be a classic of the slasher genre… I just wish I hadn’t seen 100 rip-offs before watching the original first.

(This review is a part of my month-long October 2014 A-Z Horror Reviews.)


2 Responses to “My Bloody Valentine (1981)”

  1. Felix Says:

    That is one of the inherent problems when revisiting or seeing older movies for the first time. Sometimes they feel unoriginal or trite due to the films which followed them or just by standards changing in general.

    One of my friends and I love watching stand up comedy. Going back and watching ones from the 70’s and 80’s is fun, but we run into this same problem. Was that guy funny and all the watered down people after him have now made him unfunny? Or we he just never not funny? I know it is different than horror movies, but I hope you get the idea of what I am trying to say.

  2. lethargic Says:

    I didn’t see many, many, many 80s slasher films until long after I had seen many, many, many other 80s slasher films. And I could care less how many came before or after, the majority of them still land somewhere on the awesome spectrum.