If there's a connection between St. Valentines Day and mining, we're at a loss to name it. But some Canadian film producers thought these two elements were a natural fit for a horror film, and the result of this combination is My Bloody Valentine, a gory post-Halloween slasher flick.
The place is Valentine Bluff in Nova Scotia, Canada. Twenty years before the movie's present-day of 1980, an accident takes place in the town's nearby mine. The mine's supervisors, anxious to get to the town's Valentine's Day dance, forget to check the methane levels in one of the shafts and it collapses, trapping several men. Unaware of the incident, those supervisors party it up at the dance.
Six weeks later, other miners manage to rescue the one survivor of the cave-in, Harry Warden. After his rescue, Warden was committed to an insane asylum, in part because of the lengths to which he went in order to survive for those six weeks. What lengths are those, you ask? Ever heard Rupert Holmes' "Timothy?"
Hungry as hell no food to eat
And Joe said that he would sell his soul
For just a piece of meat
Water enough to drink for two
And Joe said to me, "I'll have a swig
And then there's some for you."
Timothy, Timothy, Joe was looking at you
Timothy, Timothy, God what did we do?
Of course, Warden's flashback didn't end there. A year later, on the day of the Valentine's Day dance, Warden escaped and traveled to Valentine Bluff and killed the two supervisors with his pickaxe. Warden then removed their hearts and left them in heart shaped boxes at the dance, along with a note warning against ever holding a Valentine's Day dance again. And it seems that the town complied.
Either we're caught in his spotlight, or he's
wearing a giant LifeSaver candy on his head.
The movie returns to 1980, when the town's leaders have finally decided to hold a dance again. Warden is safely ensconced in an asylum, so it's time to move on, right?
Wrong. Two days before the dance, the town's sheriff receives a box with a heart inside. A human heart. Before long more people are killed, including the nice old lady (Patricia Hamilton) who helped decorate the town for the holiday. Sheriff Newby (Don Francks) finds notes on the bodies indicating that canceling the dance would be the preferred course of action. In the real world any sheriff would probably alert everybody that a killer was the loose, and let the civilian authorities decide to cancel the dance. But in horror movie world, Newby bullies the mayor into canceling the dance, and decides to keep the fact that a murderer is on the loose from the townspeople for no good reason.
Robbed of the dance, and against the dire proclamations of the town's bartender, the local mine workers decide to have a party anyway, and they'll do it at the mine! Things get even grimmer when a group of the miners decide to take their girlfriends for a ride down into the mine.
"You think you're so hot, Johnson?
Well, my girl said that when I get home,
the first thing she wants to do is get me
into the shower!"
Because it's nearly impossible to support an entire movie with just the antics of the killer, there is a love triangle involving the mine owner's son T.J. (Paul Kelman), another miner named Axel (Neil Affleck), and a woman named Sarah (Lori Hallier). Luckily, this triangle does pay off at the end when Axel and T.J. have to join forces once they realize Sarah may be trapped down the mine with the killer.
The killer in My Bloody Valentine is a fairly scary apparition; he always dresses in full miner's gear, with gas mask and helmet. But most of the time his headlamp is lit, which is a great effect when his victims are frozen with deer-like fear in its beam, but it begs the question of how he manages to sneak up on anyone. However, director George Mihalka does a good job of building tension during the fright scenes, and that helps draw attention away from the fact that the killer does some impossible things, like carrying a body hundreds of feet up a mineshaft access ladder and rigging it to surprise our heroes when they try climb that same ladder. His murder methods are pretty imaginative, too, and we must say we were impressed when someone's boiled heart popped up in the hot dog pot, but it still smacks of the old "killers can do magic" problem that was so prevalent in these 80's slasher flicks.
Most films like this star a band of American teenagers, who are, as everyone knows, the most impulsive creatures alive. My Bloody Valentine veers away from this course by using 20-something Canadian adults. From this we learned that Canadian adults are just as irresponsible and reckless as American teenagers -- good information to have if you ever plan on traveling north of the U.S. borders.
My Bloody Valentine is one of the better written holiday-themed slasher films, but unless you have a real taste for this genre, or unless a scary movie is the only way you can get your intended sweetie to jump into your arms, we suggest something a bit more romantic on Valentine's day. Surely your local video store has copies Bride of Chucky or Embrace of the Vampire at hand.