My Bloody Valentine: Special Edition (US - BD)
Gabe revisits the original, uncut adventures of The Miner on Blu-ray...
Horror fans can hate the inundation of recent remakes, but remakes tend to coincide with special edition DVD re-releases of the films that inspire them. One of the most exciting of these releases was January’s My Bloody Valentine, which Lionsgate released in time for the release of their 3D theatrical remake. Both films follow the story of a small town’s second or third 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’. I’m sure you’ve heard of them. The genre’s roots start deep into the world of Grand Guignol theater and Agatha Christie, but most experts agree ground zero was Hitchcock’s Psycho. Later Italian Gialli thrillers, and Gialli inspired thrillers like Bob Clark’s Black Christmas and John Carpenter’s Halloween defined the genre’s rules, but everything changed when major studio player Paramount joined forces with exploitation newbie Sean Cunningham produced Friday the 13th. Friday the 13th was less concerned with suspense and stylized camera work, and more entrenched in grim and gory violence. Oh, and lots of nubile naked bodies. The film was released to terrible reviews, but surprise monetary success internationally, and the floodgates were swung open for a million quickie rip-offs.
Having set some of the hottest kindle that started the boom with Clark’s Black Christmas in 1974, the Canadian film industry became a big player in the early ‘80s, which was the genre’s biggest decade (speaking in terms of the purest version of the genre). Canada’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. In an effort to separate their films from a glut of other films featuring a stab-happy stalker, slasher filmmakers usually based their formulaic plots around a central theme, and such films usually occurred within the confines of a single day. 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, followed closely by sleepovers). Almost all era slashers feature a revenge motivated killer, but holiday themed slashers tend to involve more elaborate mysteries behind the killings, which usually pertain to the holiday in question, like April Fool’s Day, where the authenticity of the murders is constantly in question.
My Bloody Valentine fulfils all genre tropes set forth by Clark, Carpenter and Cunningham (the three Cs of slashers?), including a local legend that sets up the killer’s inspiration, characters ignoring ominous warnings against sex and drugs, a masked killer whose identity isn’t really important (though slightly more important this time around), a smorgasbord of 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 genuine 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, serves no thematic purpose other than a particularly exploitative attempt at one-upping Friday the 13th.
The MPAA famously cracked down on slasher violence after the release of the first Friday. Friday the 13th Part 2, The Burning and My Bloody Valentine were the among the most notoriously re-edited in the bunch. The vast majority of Valentine’s really vile bits were cut for an R-rating when released, and without them the film’s lack of suspense . 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’.
This Blu-ray version of Lionsgate releases look more or less just like their DVD release, but feature measurably sharper and more consistent details. It’s a clean enough print, but it definitely shows its age. The minor compression noise the DVD featured is pretty much gone, but the transfer is still pretty grainy, at least as grainy as Paramount’s Friday the 13th Blu-ray transfer. Outdoor establishing shots are a bit muddy, and much grainier than the bulk of the disc, and the sharper set lighting bits do feature some minor edge enhancement on the more sharply contrasting elements. The bits in the mine are the most impressive overall, featuring deep and pure blacks, and the sharpest highlight details. Colours are a little on the dull side, but are realistic, and all the hues are evenly free of bleeding or artefacting. The overcast look blues everything up a bit, and blows out the white elements of skin tones a little. This new release does nothing to better integrate the reinstated gore shots. The deleted footage is understandably damaged due to its previously ‘lost’ nature (see Sony’s From Beyond release for a similar problem). During these scenes contrast levels increase, the print’s warmth is pushed, and grain thickens. The black chunks of artefacts around these parts are genuinely distracting.
Lionsgate already unnecessarily revamped the original mono audio track into an awkward, and largely centred 5.1 mix. The only advantage to the new track is the increased bass, which is surprisingly crisp, otherwise the stereo and surround effects are few and far between. The same goes for this Blu-ray’s lossless DTS-HD version of the remix. The scene towards the beginning of the film where the story of Harry Warden is recalled is a cool bit of sound design. There aren’t any cool stereo or surround moments, but the majority of the sound effect are sucked out in favour of eerie music, which is punctuated by a few pungent aural blasts. Mostly the revamp applies to the musical tracks, which are now somewhat separated, and feature a few vague back channel 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 (which are the same as those that the Lionsgate DVD dawned) begin with ‘Bloodlust’ (20:00, SD), a mix of a 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 scenes, 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’ is an entirely text based look at the genre’s history. The surprisingly informative slasher family tree 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’re a fan of classic slashers you probably already like My Bloody Valentine, and you probably also already own Lionsgate’s uncut DVD release. The DVD and Blu-ray are close enough in video and audio quality, and identical in the extras department, so I can’t fully recommend a re-purchase for those that already own the DVD, unless their set is particularly gigantic. Fans that still only own the MPAA butchered Paramount release should definitely update, though, mostly for the deleted footage, but also for the Blu-ray’s better image quality.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 24th November 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
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
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