Release Date(s)1981 (February 11, 2020)
Studio(s)Paramount Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B-
One of the more popular slasher films to come out of the 1980s that was never attached to a franchise is My Bloody Valentine. The Canadian-born horror film about a group of miners that decide to have a Valentine’s Day party that ends in murder didn’t light the box office on fire upon its initial release in the US through Paramount Pictures, but it has since gone on to be considered one of the better films of its ilk—even missing a few minutes of bloody footage.
In the town of Valentine Bluffs, a tragedy occurred years before when a group of miners were accidentally trapped underground after a methane explosion during the annual Valentine’s Day dance. One of them, Harry Warden, went insane, killing his coworkers and resorting to cannibalism. Harry later vowed to kill anyone in the town if they ever held another dance. Many years later, a group of young miners decide to have a Valentine’s Day party in secret against the orders of the mayor and the local sheriff, considering the gruesome events of the past to be nothing more than a fairy tale. Even though Harry Warden is supposed to be locked away in an asylum, it isn’t long before a mysterious miner in full gear shows up with a pick axe to kill them all, yet leaving some doubt as to whether or not it is actually Harry behind the mask.
Unlike its Friday the 13th counterparts, My Bloody Valentine tends to focus on character just as much as the horror, giving us just enough to where we actually care without going overboard. The love triangle between the characters of T.J., Sarah, and Axel actually serves a higher purpose in the story, and isn’t just window dressing. The story also racks up the tension fairly well. Anytime it seems that the sheriff is going to save the day, he is inadvertently called away on other matters, leaving the partygoers to their deadly fates. The extra gore footage that was trimmed out at the insistence of the MPAA adds a whole new dimension to the film, giving it a new set of teeth, but also clearing up what seem like nonsensical death scenes. Though it was remade fairly successfully in 2009, My Bloody Valentine holds up as one of the more unique holiday themed slashers of its era, even leaving wiggle room for a sequel that never happened.
My Bloody Valentine makes its second appearance on Blu-ray in a new Collector’s Edition release from Scream Factory, sporting a new 4K scan of the original camera negative. Previously, Lionsgate had licensed the film in 2009 to coincide with the release of the remake, and at the last minute, used seamless branching to incorporate the cut footage from a lower quality source. Scream Factory’s release mostly rectifies that. Despite having access to the original negative, they’ve still had to use that same footage in a couple of places, presumably because it couldn’t be found on the original negative. However, they’ve cleaned those moments up and attempted to make them match the new scan as best as possible, though they still stand out. Regardless, the theatrical and uncut versions of the film are presented on separate discs.
The fresh scan breathes new life into the film, giving it a much more precise and detailed look. Grain is refined but never intrusive, and the film’s softer qualities have not been tampered with. It appears natural and faithful to the film stock it was shot on. The color palette offers a nice variety above ground, including many bold reds, greens, and blues. Below ground, black levels are deep with terrific shadow detail. The miner’s menacing appearance is now much more apparent as he’s given clear definition. Contrast and brightness levels are ideal and there are no major leftover instances of dirt or debris. It’s also quite stable from start to finish. The lower quality inserts in the uncut version are a tad brighter with lesser definition and color, but these moments are brief, and considering the overall presentation, they’re minor inconveniences.
The audio is presented in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD on both versions with optional subtitles in English SDH, and there are clear differences between the two. The theatrical audio is wider and offers clear dialogue exchanges and more pronounced score and sound effects. The uncut audio is more narrow, flatter, and lower in volume. Sound effects and score also don’t have as much impact. In some instances where the gore footage has been restored, the lower quality audio of the original footage has been used—again, presumably because the elements weren’t there to be utilized. In any case, both tracks are clean and free of any major leftover damage.
The following extras are also included on each disc:
DISC ONE (THEATRICAL VERSION)
- An Anemic Valentine: An Interview with Director George Mihalka (HD – 24:09)
- From the Heart: An Interview with Actor Paul Kelman (HD – 14:15)
- Axel, Be My Bloody Valentine: An Interview with Actor Neil Affleck (HD – 14:48)
- Friends of Mine: An Interview with Actress Lori Hallier (HD – 19:20)
- Becoming Sylvia: An Interview with Actress Helene Udy (HD – 17:17)
- Broken Hearts and Broken Bones: An Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Designer Tom Burman (HD – 10:36)
- The Secret Keeper: An Interview with Actor Rob Stein (HD – 27:25)
- Holes in the Heart Featurette (HD – 12:29)
- Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:11)
- TV Spots (HD – 3 in all – 1:32)
- Radio Spots (HD – 2 in all – 1:01)
- Still Gallery (HD – 139 in all – 11:41)
DISC TWO (UNCUT VERSION)
- Introduction to the Film by Director George Mihalka (HD – 0:23)
- Audio Commentary with Director George Mihalka
- My Bloody Valentine: 35th Anniversary Cast Reunion Panel (HD – 46:54)
- The Ballad of Harry Warden Performance (HD – 5:03)
George Mihalka discusses the genesis of the project, his feelings about the film today, and how the film was butchered by the MPAA. Paul Kelman discusses the background on his character, shooting the film, and the boom of independent filmmaking in Canada at the time. Neil Affleck speaks on the assumption that he played the miner throughout the film instead of Peter Cowper, the struggles making the film, and working with George Mihalka. Lori Hallier talks about working on the film’s locations, being a first-time film actress, and working with the cast. Helene Udy speaks about George Mihalka, the enjoyment of not knowing who the killer was meant to be, and her death scene. Tom Burman talks about his reluctance to work on gore films, working with inexperienced make-up effects technicians, and the pros and cons of low budget Canadian filmmaking. Rob Stein discusses using an alias for films shot in the US, shows off his copy of the script with the original title The Secret, and pontificates on the film’s lasting appeal. Holes in the Heart shows a side-by-side comparison of the death scenes in the theatrical and uncut versions of the film. The still gallery features 139 images of production photos, publicity stills, and posters.
The audio commentary on the uncut version of the film with George Mihalka is, for my personal taste, not a very good one. He gives a lot of great information while watching the film, but he is being pumped for information off-mic and no editing has been performed on the track, so we can hear every swallow and every moment of silence. The cast reunion panel from 2016, which has been pieced together from different elements, features George Mihalka, Lori Hallier, Helene Udy, Rob Stein, Peter Cowper, Thomas Kovacs, Jim Murchison, Alf Humphreys, and host Brian Singleton. In addition, Thomas Kovacs performs the film’s theme song The Ballad of Harry Warden at the same convention with Peter Cowper and Jim Murchison.
It should be noted that all of the extras from the Lionsgate Blu-ray, aside from the trailer, have not been carried over, which include the following (all in SD):
- My Bloody Valentine and the Rise of the Slasher Film Featurette (20:36)
- Deleted Scene: Opening Sequence – with Introduction by George Mihalka (8:07)
- Deleted Scene: Mabel in the Dryer – with Introduction by Tom Burman and Ken Diaz (3:06)
- Deleted Scene: Happy’s Surprise – with Introduction by Adam Rockoff, Tom Burman, and Ken Diaz (3:08)
- Deleted Scene: Dave Gets Dunked – with Introduction by Carl Marote (1:49)
- Deleted Scene: Sylvia in the Showers – with Introduction by Helene Udy, George Mihalka, Tom Burman, Ken Diaz, and Adam Rockoff (6:04)
- Deleted Scene: Nail Gun – with Introduction by Ken Diaz (3:15)
- Deleted Scene: Beheading – with Introduction by Tom Burman and Ken Diaz (4:50)
- Deleted Scene: Pick Axe to the Torso – with Introduction by George Mihalka (2:04)
- Deleted Scene: Axel’s Flashback – with Introduction by Ken Diaz (2:59)
- Deleted Scene: End Sequence – with Introduction by Neil Affleck (3:30)
- Bloodlines: An Interactive Horror Film History Text Feature (16 selections in all)
Obviously the deleted scenes are the extended gore moments presented separately, but the introductions, featurette, and text feature remain as exclusives.
Scream Factory’s presentation of My Bloody Valentine is a major step up over its predecessor. Though it’s not perfect, it gets far more right than it does wrong, and given that Paramount is a studio known for ditching cut footage from its films, we should be thankful that anything was found at all. In essence, this Collector’s Edition release is certainly a must-buy.
– Tim Salmons