My Bloody Valentine: Special Edition (US - DVD R1)
Gabe is giddy at the prospect of an uncut version of the slasher 'classic'
Just in time for the release of their 3D theatrical remake, Lionsgate has re-released My Bloody Valentine, the story of a small town’s second worst Valentine ’s Day ever. Twenty one years after a tragic mining accident, and twenty years after the following massacre, a box of candy shows up on the Sheriff’s desk with a human heart and a warning to not hold a Valentine’s Day dance… or else. Of course, the local youth throw a party anyway, and the blood starts to flow.
Long before you kids had your ‘Torture Porn’ craze there was a massive influx of a new generation of horror films dubbed ‘Slashers’. The genre started with Psycho and giallo inspired thrillers like Bob Clark’s Black Christmas and John Carpenter’s Halloween, but everything changed when major studio player Paramount joined forces with exploitation newbie Sean Cunningham produced and director Friday the 13th, which was less concerned with suspense than grim and gory violence. The film was released to great success internationally, and lead to a million quickie rip-offs.
Having (in some eyes) set the kindle that started the boom with Clark’s Black Christmas in 1974, the Canadian film industry became a player in the early ‘80s during the genre’s biggest influx, and the country’s entries are among the favourites with fans, including Prom Night, Happy Birthday to Me, The Burning (a personal favourite), Terror Train, and My Bloody Valentine. My Bloody Valentine stands out as a prototypical ‘holiday-themed’ slasher, which was one of the two most popular themes for the genre, the other being summer camp. Almost all slasher’s feature a revenge motivated killer, but holiday themed slashers tend to involve more elaborate mysteries behind the killings, like April Fool’s Day, where the authenticity of the murders is constantly in question.
My Bloody Valentine fulfils all the tropes of the genre set forth by Carpenter and Cunningham, including a local legend that sets up the killer’s inspiration, characters ignoring the warnings to pursue sex and drugs, a masked killer whose identity isn’t really important (though it’s a slightly important reveal this time around), several false scares, and a handful of gory human mutilations. The film sets itself apart in two categories—that of the average age of the characters, which is closer to thirty instead of the normal under twenty-one (though an older police chief or father figure of some kind is very common to the genre), and the viciousness of its gore compared to several of the more popular, American made slashers.
The older characters are generally more concerned with romance than their late teenage counterparts, leading to a pretty thick sub-plot involving a rather adult (and somewhat tragic) love triangle. This would point to a slightly more ‘classy’ film, though unfortunately not a particularly clever one, which probably lost the older audience the film was likely aiming for, but still endears it a bit to those of us bored with the usual teens in peril plots. The increased frequency of violence, on the other hand, was probably just an attempt at one-upping Friday the 13th.
The MPAA famously cracked down on slasher violence after the release of the first Friday, so most of My Bloody Valentine’s really vile bits were cut for an R-rating when released. This new release is cause for celebration among fans, as it marks the first time the nearly ten minutes of deleted violence have been reinstated for video release. With the footage the film crosses the line from ‘better than average’ to ‘genuinely memorable’.
Lionsgate haven’t gone out of their way to re-clean the image already presented by Paramount on anamorphic disc, but there’s no cause for complaint, as the film continues to look good for its age. Colours are generally bright and realistic, with minimal compression noise, though print damage, film grain, and the occasional artefact can be a problem. Details are sharp enough to tell what’s going on during the darker moments, which were entirely obscured on old VHS copies, and edge enhancement is minimal. The image quality does noticeably change during the reinstated gore scenes, which is understandable considering the almost lost nature of the footage. During these scenes contrast levels increase, the print’s warmth is pushed, and a whole lot more grain and print damage becomes noticeable.
Lionsgate has unnecessarily revamped the original mono audio track into an awkward, and largely centred 5.1 track. The only advantage of the new track is the increased bass, which is surprisingly crisp, otherwise the stereo and surround effects are few and far between. Mostly the revamp applies to the musical tracks, which are now somewhat separated, and a few vague background effects. Mostly, though, one could flip between the tracks without even knowing where they’d stopped, and some of the new attempts at spatial representation are flat and scrappy. The sound also suffers a few inconsistencies during the re-instated scenes, but nothing comparable to the difference in video quality.
The extras begin with ‘Bloodlust’, a twenty-minute behind the scenes look at the film and a brief history of slashers. Slasher expert, and author of ‘Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film’ Adam Rockoff runs us through the genre’s history very briefly (better than I did, I should probably read his book some day), and places My Bloody Valentine in its rightful place among its brethren. The behind the scenes information is meek, but fun, including an emphasis placed on the film’s authenticity concerning the working class characters, and the use of a real life mine, both of which are elements that help set the film apart from the masses. There’s also an emphasis on the film’s excised effects. The latter section of the featurette is an ad for the new film, which should be fun simply considering it’s in 3D.
Next up are the ten deleted, just in case you made the mistake of watching the theatrical version of the film. Each scene comes with an introduction featuring director George Mihalka, and/or various cast and crew members. The commentators talk briefly about how they did the effects, and Minhalka chats a bit about the cause of the deletion. Interestingly the director blames the MPAA crackdown on the murder of John Lennon, which was a theory I hadn’t personally been privy to in the past. Missing from the scene selection is a ‘play-all’ option.
‘Bloodlines: An Interactive Horror Film History’ sounds like a pretty lame extra, and it’s entirely text based, but even this easy-chair, amateur expert is impressed with the basic make-up of the slasher family tree, which includes sections for Gialli, H.G. Lewis, and the Rape/Revenge genre. I shouldn’t be surprised considering Rockoff’s inclusion in the disc’s production. A group of Lions Gate new release trailers finishes things up.
If you like classic slashers you probably already like My Bloody Valentine. This disc is your chance to discover the movie the MPAA kept from you for over a quarter century, and it really does make all the difference. The disc’s extras and the A/V quality are plenty satisfying, but I suppose if you aren’t a fan of the genre the film’s treatment will make no difference in your purchase choice.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 13th January 2009
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Extras: 'Bloodlust', 'Bloodline', Deleted Scenes with Introductions, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: George Mihalka
Cast: Neil Affleck, Cynthia Dale, Don Francks, Lori Hallier, Patricia Hamilton
Length: 90 minutes