Welcome to Valentine Bluffs, the little town with a big heart. Around those parts, though, that big heart might end up being stuffed inside a heart-shaped candy box by Harry Warden before February 14th is over and done with, but otherwise, it’s a great place to live.
As a kid, I only ever rented George Mihalka’s My Bloody Valentine once (for some dumb reason), and it was only until the remake was coming out in 2009 that I decided to rent it again, and was totally blown away, because 10-year-old Heather sure as hell didn’t appreciate just how great the original MBV was and still is after all this time. One of those rare singular slashers that never made it into franchise territory, My Bloody Valentine is a pretty fantastic whodunit about a killer dressed up like a miner, similar to the M.O. of Harry Warden, a psycho who slaughtered several people at a Valentine’s Day party back in 1960, who is tormenting the residents of Valentine Bluffs and warns them to not go through with throwing the first Valentine’s Day dance in 20 years.
For decades now, fans have only been able to experience an extremely watered down (but still great) version of My Bloody Valentine, due to some pretty extreme demands from the MPAA back in the day. For Scream Factory’s brand new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, we have the chance to experience My Bloody Valentine Uncut, and we get the standard version of the film included as well (both iterations are in 4K, too, and they look phenomenal—but more on that soon), and it feels like a real triumph to be able to see Mihalka’s original vision for his slashterpiece fully realized in high quality.
While I have a great amount of love for the slasher subgenre as a whole, there’s a real charm to My Bloody Valentine (1981) that makes it a standout amongst its cinematic peers. The small-town vibes of Valentine Bluffs is something that will always endear any movie to me (that’s probably why I love most Stephen King adaptations), and there’s a real sense of camaraderie between the characters in MBV, where they actually feel like longtime friends who have known each other for decades. What’s interesting to me is that after rewatching the film several times recently, while I truly do like the male characters in MBV, it does feel like the women of Valentine Bluffs are kinda too good for their male suitors, just because they’re so well-conceived here as full-fledged and vibrant characters all on their own.
Also, I must tip my hat to how progressive My Bloody Valentine (1981) was for the time, as it’s pretty rare to have a movie, horror or otherwise, promoting safe sex and condoms, so that’s pretty nifty, too.
Oh, and on a personal note—the fact that there’s a prominent character named Mabel in the film, played by Patricia Hamilton, is really fun for me just because that’s my mom’s name and it’s not a name that pops up too often in entertainment. Also, my mom comes from a mining family, too (six out of seven of my uncles, plus my grandfather, were all miners in West Virginia), and I think in a way, the fact that My Bloody Valentine is centered around a mining community makes me a bit nostalgic about things from my own life, too.
As mentioned, up until now, My Bloody Valentine was notoriously victimized by the MPAA back in the day, where all the film’s kills were hacked to bits before Mihalka could get the R rating he needed to put the film in theaters in February 1981. The Uncut version of MBV thankfully puts back in all the gory bits and pieces, showcasing some of the really cool things that Tom Burman and his crew created. And man, do they all look great. If you’re really into special effects, this Collector’s Edition of My Bloody Valentine is worth owning just to see those moments alone.
Also, I love that My Bloody Valentine sets the tone for all the great hot dog-related moments in 1980s horror (see April Fool’s Day and Friday the 13th Part 2 for more examples), and even though it’s not a Canadian story per se, its Canadian roots are pretty evident from start to finish, and I just think that’s so damn adorable (hats off to actor Paul Kelman, whose character T.J. rocks the Canadian tuxedo here exceedingly well).
This 2-disc Blu-ray set for My Bloody Valentine also includes a bevy of bonus features, featuring a ton of interviews with Mihalka, as well as with cast members including the aforementioned Kelman, Neil Affleck, Lori Hallier, Helene Udy, and Rob Stein, and legendary special effects artist Tom Burman, too. During his interview, Mihalka discussed the quick turnaround for MBV, and how it came about after his first project with the producing team had gotten shelved. He lamented the treatment of the film by the MPAA and the various challenges they faced shooting in the mines as well.
The cast interviewees discussed a variety of topics, including their experiences from shooting My Bloody Valentine, how much they enjoyed spending time with their fellow cast members, their memories of both Alf Humphreys and Keith Knight, who both passed away from brain cancer, and they also discussed how the ending of MBV was hidden from them throughout most of production (see, they were doing it well before Scream was!).
Also included in the Collector’s Edition is a MBV reunion panel from the Bay of Blood convention, which was a delight, as well as Thomas Kovacs performing “The Ballad of Harry Warden,” which was fun (side note: I don’t feel like My Bloody Valentine gets enough credit for just how jaunty it is at times with its various tunes sung throughout). There’s also the usual special features fare included here—trailer, TV spots, radio spots, and a stills gallery—plus, MBV fans can check out the new commentary track with Mihalka that’s included as well. I admittedly didn’t get a chance to get through that just yet, as there were plenty of other materials to get through, and I fell behind.
That being said, this is where I get a bit nitpicky about the special features for this Collector’s Edition release of My Bloody Valentine, as I’m just not a fan of including separated interviews in the style that they are presented here. Not only is it a jarring experience, but the title cards featuring different questions between each response feels impersonal and repetitive, especially since most of the questions asked of each person overlap. And, again, maybe this is the detail hound in me being way too fixated, but there are some typos on the question cards, too, which was a bit of a bummer.
The only interview that felt like a fully edited mini-doc was the featurette with Tom Burman (and I’ve been in that kitchen, so that was pretty neat!), but that went by pretty quickly, and I wish they had dug a little deeper into his process of the effects on the film, especially since the techniques he and his crew were utilizing on My Bloody Valentine were trailblazing at the time.
As a whole, I know horror fans are going to have a ton of fun with this Collector’s Edition release of My Bloody Valentine, and kudos to Scream Factory for the gorgeous 4K presentations of both versions of the film. It’s (obviously) never looked better, making it a real Valentine’s Day treat for all of us slasher aficionados out there.
Movie Score: 4/5, Disc Score: 4/5