Thursday 21 July 2011

My Bloody Valentine [1981]

MY BLOODY VALENTINE is a US / Canadian co-production that was directed by George Mihalka and originally released in February 1981.  It stars Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck and Don Francks.  Keen to put the past to bed, the mining community of Valentine Bluffs resolves to hold a Valentine's Day ball despite threats made by a mad killer 20 years before.

My slashfest continues with one of the best: it's so good it inspired the brilliant band of the same name and prompted a recent remake, in 3D no less.  Like so many films, particularly in the horror genre, it works because it creates a set of believable characters - not necessarily wholly likeable characters but credible ones.  It also takes time to create a realistic, down to earth setting in which to locate those characters.  Furthermore, the cast is full of unknowns so the audience isn't able to second-guess the plot.

The Valentine Bluff mining community

The subsequent intrusion of extreme violence (and I saw the uncut version, so it is pretty extreme) is therefore more shocking and effective.  There's a decent twist towards the end and even the open-ended climax (which was presumably there to allow for a sequel which never came) kind of works.  One review of this movie on imdb hails it as "The Deer Hunter of 80s slashers" which is partly a tongue-in-cheek reference to the films' shared background of mining but also a genuine reflection of its standing in the genre.

A lot of the previously excised gore scenes were restored for the 2009 reissue

As is often the case with horror pictures of the 1970s and 80s, most of the actors didn't go on to greater fame.  There are a few exceptions of course, Jamie Lee Curtis foremost among them, but I would suggest the majority either dropped out of the film business or became jobbing actor.  That's very much the case here: for example, Paul Kelman, the nominal star, has just seven credits on his imdb page; Neil Affleck has nine; Rob Stein two; Thomas Kovacs nine.  Of course many of these guys may have had decent stage careers that aren't noted on imdb and it's fair to say that the women in the cast fared a lot better but my point is that these films tend to produce few full on movie stars and those that it does produce tend to be the villains.  Partly that's the nature of horror roles - most of the cast are only there to get sliced - partly it's because the budgets are generally low and big name actors are too expensive, but also partly I think because horror movies were treated with a level of respect not much greater than that afforded to pornography.

Yer common or garden slasher

George Mihalka continued to work in film and TV (and still does actually) but his CV is patchy at best.  He made two or three genre movies and the first of the two uninspiring mid-90s Harry Palmer movies, BULLET TO BEIJING [1996].  Cinematographer Rodney Gibbons worked on several low budget genre films before stepping up to become a director in the 1990s of, you guessed it, low budget genre films.  Well they do say stick to what you know.

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