Harry Warden is an axe murderer who slaughtered over twenty people on Valentine’s Day ten years ago. Present day, the man who was indirectly responsible returns home and the murders start once again.
My Bloody Valentine did everything right when it was released in theaters. 3D filmmaking is a greatly improved technology that can make movies look amazing when compared side-by-side with its standard definition equivalent. When done right, it can be a stunning portrayal of the world of the film (Coraline) or just emphasize the textures to give it more depth of perception, making the entire movie pop (Up). That is not to say it can’t still be used as a gimmick and that is what My Bloody Valentine set out to do.
Horror movies have always been the perfect guinea pig for this gimmick. Whether it is Jason launching his axe directly at you or Freddy’s claws appearing to rip through the screen, in a genre that is reliant on jump scares, it was a match made in Heaven. Unfortunately, the gimmick was utilized using the anaglyph format and those horrid red and cyan glasses. This resulted in a distorted color palette, blurred pictures and migraine headaches. Despite things jumping out at you, it was just not worth the tradeoff.
With the advent of XpanD, RealD and Dolby 3D systems, the headaches of the glasses seem to be a thing of the past – if you are seeing the movie in a theater. Since televisions are not widely available with the latest 3D capabilities, you watch them with the same old anaglyph glasses and that takes a great deal away from the wondrous effects of the new 3D technology. Since the DVD comes with both standard definition and 3D, using anaglyph styled glasses, it is important for the movie itself to be good because the gimmick, used to great effect in cinemas, is flawed on your home entertainment systems.
My Bloody Valentine is a shallow, but somewhat enjoyable, slasher film. Jensen Ackles is Tom Hanniger, a guy whose negligence caused an explosion in the mine his father owns. While trapped in the explosion, Harry Warden violently murders his fellow mineworkers to conserve oxygen and ends up in a coma. The following year, on Valentine’s Day, Harry wakes from the coma and goes on a killing spree that claims the lives of 22 people before closing in on Tom, his girlfriend Sarah (Jamie King), and two of her friends, Axel (Kerr Smith) and Irene (Betsy Rue). Tom is stranded by his friends and is about to become Harry’s next victim when the police arrive and shoot Harry, only to see the killer escape into the mine.
The story picks up ten years later when Tom, following his father’s death, returns to sell the mine. Sarah has married Axel, who is now the town’s sheriff. Axel is not happy to know Tom is back in town and is the same self absorbed jerk he was on the day Harry went on his killing spree. The same day Tom arrives back in town, it appears Harry Warden has returned as well, and the bodies start piling up.
There are a lot of genre staples in this movie that makes it a joy to watch. The scene where a trucker, the girl he is having sex with (Irene from the opening) and a midget are brutalized by the killer, is a joy to watch. Whether it is the death of the trucker, the creative ways the “vertically challenged” woman is murdered or the fact that Irene is completely naked the entire time, this scene is exactly what every slasher movie should provide. Yes, it’s cliché and yes, it is a bit politically incorrect, but seeing a bare ass naked chick trying to avoid a pick axe while a midget lies dead in the background is exactly why cinema was created. Imagine what it must have been like in True 3D.
There are a great deal of things flying towards the screen that is flat in both versions on this DVD but it is clear what they were going for. There are two or three different choices for who the killer might be and when the big reveal happens it is not as big a surprise as the filmmakers could have hoped. At least they gave all the suspects an equal chance to show why they might be the killer.
Kerr Smith is decent in the film as the asshole who you want to see bite it but comes across as the most boring character in the movie. He is a jerk, I get that, I don’t need him to prove it over and over again. A character like that is needed to give you someone you want to see die the worst possible death. The movie doesn’t allow us that joy. Jamie King is also boring in her role as the conflicted center of the love triangle and never gives you any reason to care about her except for the fact that Tom seems to care about her. Jensen Ackles, in no surprise, is the star of the movie. He has proved on television’s Supernatural that he is an insanely talented actor with a ton of potential and he gives a solid performance as the only person in this picture you want to survive. Both horror icon Tom Atkins and former Emergency paramedic Kevin Tighe provide fun supporting characters as well.
At the end of the day, this is a generic slasher movie. There are mostly uninteresting lead characters, with Ackles as the exception, in a story that provides very few surprises. The biggest selling point of the movie is the 3D gimmick and that is ruined on this release since technology has not caught up in the realm of home entertainment. One day, hopefully not in the too distant future, we will be able to enjoy the same experience as theaters offer in the comfort of our own home. Until then, we will get the disappointment of seeing movies such as Coraline, Up and My Bloody Valentine without the beauty that we remembered from the cinema. At least two of those will provide us with a quality story to make up for the lack of visual depth.
My Bloody Valentine does not.
2009 is officially the year that I fell in love with 3D. With such beautifully rendered movies as Coraline, Monsters vs. Aliens and Pixar’s amazing Up, I refuse to watch another theatrical animated movie in standard Definition if there is a 3D version available. After trying to watch My Bloody Valentine in 3D, I can only imagine how freaking cool it must have looked. Unfortunately, even with my great television, the DVD suffers from the same problems that made me hate the old 3D movies. There are double exposure issues causing the picture to look ugly. Sitting here, trying to write this review, I now suffer from the headaches I thought were obsolete with the new technology. See all 3D movies in the theaters, I can’t stress that enough, but until they get past the green and purple glasses for home use, it isn’t worth your effort to watch them in that format on DVD. It comes with four pairs of glasses if you desire to watch the movie with muted colors.
There is the same commentary track on both versions with director Patrick Lussier and co-writer Todd Farmer. Lussier announces Farmer wrote all the best moments of the film and the two share nice anecdotes about the film in a track with very little silence. It should be noted that Farmer played the trucker who is murdered early in the film and Lussier has some fun with the fact that Farmer appears in a bare butt shot. It’s a fun track and the two seem comfortable talking about the film.
There are a number of short features on the second disc. Deep Inside My Bloody Valentine is a making of that doesn’t really get very deep into the behind the scenes stories. They talk to almost everyone involved but it is no more than a fluff piece. Sex, Blood and Screams is better, yet still criminally short. It is a feature looking at how the actual special effects were achieved. I wonder why they would have a typical FX feature but nothing looking at the selling point of the movie – 3D?
There are a large number of deleted scenes, most of which I assume were deleted because they didn’t want to spoil the twist of the movie too soon. Most of the scenes almost spelled out who the killer was and added motivations that seem forced. There is also an alternate ending which I thought was pretty cool. It is the same as the original ending, except with some special effects overlaid showing that our killer is just a haunted soul. Finally, there is a gag reel that does nothing but show me Jamie King can’t memorize her lines.
One last thing – there is a quote by Devin Faraci on the back cover of the DVD case, so that is pretty damn cool.