My Bloody Valentine 3D (US - BD)
Gabe ducks flying pick-axes, gouged eye-balls, and gushing blood. In 3D!
Ten years ago Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles), an inexperienced coal miner, caused a fiery accident in the Harmony mine that trapped and killed five men. There was only survivor, Harry Warden. Exactly one year later, on Valentine's Day, Harry Warden woke from his coma, and brutally murdered twenty-two people with a pickaxe before being killed. Ten years after that, Tom returns to Harmony on Valentine's Day, still haunted by the deaths he caused, and his witnessing of Warden’s supposed death. Struggling to make amends with his past, he grapples with unresolved feelings for his ex-girlfriend Sarah (Jaime King), who is now married to his best friend Axel (Kerr Smith), the town sheriff. But tonight, after years of peace, something from Harmony's dark past has returned. Wearing a miner's mask and armed with a pickaxe.
The new My Bloody Valentine takes what I think is the ideal route for a bad movie remake. The original film gets a pass in its uncut form for some particularly gruesome and creative kills, and for a relatively adult treatment of the usual slasher formula, but anyone honestly up in arms about the adaptation is taking this whole genre a little too seriously. This particular remake doesn’t take the Platinum Dunes route, it doesn’t grit and grime the simplicity, yet the violence isn’t dialled back. Actually it’s amped pretty far beyond what was acceptable in the 1980s. The difference is that director Patrick Lussier and co-writers Todd Farmer and Zane Smith go out of their way to exact the roller coaster fun of the first generation of slashers. There’s a place for the gritty ‘re-imaginings’, they’re just getting a little boring.
There’s a large degree of ‘why bother’ that runs through my mind while watching yet another stalk and slash (especially one that openly recycles another plot), but for the most part these guys find a nice balance between comedy and more brutal horror. Since Wes Craven’s Scream slasher films have struggled with self-awareness, swinging from constant and pointed self parody, all the way to deathly straight faced homage. My Bloody Valentine keeps the kills bloody, and plays with the clichés, but does it in a manner just self-aware enough to wink without becoming heavy handed. The script’s mystery aspect (something that was a big part of early slashers) is full of cheats, and probably the closest we get to pretension out of the film, but is generally in-keeping with the admittedly low expectations most of us have for a bad slasher remake.
Shooting the film using the recently revitalized 3D gimmick just feeds the film’s overall fun factor, and clearly proves that no one was taking anything too seriously, which is really the only way to approach such a production. Honestly this might have been enough to consider the film a relative success, but Lussier augments his supporting cast with cult favs Tom Atkins and Bingo O’Malley, and includes direct homage to some of the original film’s best kills. There’s also a scene towards the beginning of the film that might break a record for the longest full-frontal nude scene in any American studio horror film ever.
There are two video options on this Blu-ray release—2D and 3D. The 3D version is not the polarized version that was released in theatres, so those of us seeing the film for the first time aren’t going to get the same thrill out of the home video release. Still, the 3D itself works pretty well, at least so far as in it appears that things are coming out of and moving into the screen. Despite not using the traditional red/blue process (these glasses are green and magenta) the colours are still way off, just as far off as we’ve come to expect from the format. It seems that even in high definition viewing colours through coloured lenses leads to discolouration in the final product. Overall I’d say the Hannah Montana concert film (which I reviewed on Blu-ray) is a slightly more successful 3D transfer, which suffers from slightly less discolouration.
The 2D version shows all the signs of a modified digital 3D production. I’m not familiar with the specifics of the process, but there are some problems that seem to be specific to it. One issue is focus, which is an obvious side effect of the 3D blocking. Another, more brutal issue is the fact that flattened 3D compositions are, well, flat in 2D. The most pertinent issue is born out of something like the frame rate, and that is slightly blurry motion. When the frame is still things are pretty highly detailed (definitely more so than the DVD version), and colours are relatively natural (even if contrast is pretty broad), but when in motion everything takes on a less than pristine look. The effect is similar to that of NTSC to PAL transfers, minus the skips, or a made for television soap opera. It’s subtle, but uncanny. The digital additions to the digital effects, which were placed for 3D effects, look kind of terrible when flattened as well.
I have much less to say about this set’s DTS-HD Master Audio track, but fans shouldn’t take it as bad news. Basically we get exactly what we should expect from a modestly budgeted, semi-tongue-in-cheek 3D slasher movie—aggressive scare stabs, abstract and unmotivated sound effects (lots of whooshes as the like), and over-cranked, gooey gore sounds. The dialogue is clear and centred, even when the characters are not, and the majority of incidental effects are delegated to the same area. There are a handful of surround events, but the rear channels feature the most life during scenes inside the mine, which has an eerie sort of wind presence going on.
Assuming you’re not counting the addition of the 3D version of the film (along with four sets of glasses) the extras begin with a good natured commentary track featuring director Patrick Lussier, and co-writer/supporting actor Todd Farmer. The track’s tone is mostly light and congratulatory, but there’s some good production notes mixed into everything. Fans aren’t likely to learn a whole lot, but there are some healthy technical bits, and some mention of the deleted scenes.
‘Deep Inside My Bloody Valentine’ (07:20) is a behind the scenes featurette mostly concerned with film in the real location mine, the casting, and the ‘Miner’ as a character, complete with cast and crew interviews, behind the scenes footage, and scenes from the film. A slightly shorter version of this exact featurette can be seen on the special edition release of the original film, which tells you something about its commercial intensions. ‘Sex, Blood, and Screams’ (05:50) is concerned with the film’s gore effects, and is made up of demonstrations with the original props, and comparative footage from the film.
Next are fourteen deleted and extended scenes, presented in a relatively finished, but non-anamorphic form. As per the norm these scenes are entirely unneeded, mostly made up of extra character beats, and repetitive narrative addition. No deleted for the R-rating gore here. There is also an alternate ending entitled ‘Tom, Pick, and Harry’, which picks up just after the revealing of the killer’s identity. The difference is minimal, very minimal. Things are completed with a gag reel and the original trailer.
My Bloody Valentine is one of those less than glowing success stories that manages to outshine or at least meet most of the very minor expectations that come along with slasher movie remakes. The 3D gimmick doesn’t really work on home video, not even hi-def, but it’s still pretty fun, and sets the film apart from the rest of the horror remake pack. The strangest thing for me is the fact that both leads from Supernatural were in slasher remakes that came out in a row this year (Jared Padalecki was in Friday the 13th). That’s too specific an event to be a coincidence.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 19th May 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master 7.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French
Subtitles: English SDH, French, and Spanish
Extras: Director and Producer Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Alternate Ending, Deep Inside My Bloody Valentine, Sex, Blood and Screams, Bloopers, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Patrick Lussier
Cast: Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, Kerr Smith, Betsy Rue, Edi Gathegi
Length: 101 minutes
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