My Bloody Valentine (1981)

We’re continuing today with another horror from 1981 and one of the most underrated of the genre that I’ve ever seen. A return to the slasher genre after a few films out of it for us. It’s a small, low budget, Canadian film, directed by George Mihalka…it’s My Bloody Valentine!!

I expect some of you horror lovers out there will have seen this one. It was one of those that I just happened to stumble upon one day and like the sound of…and I’m hugely thankful I bought it. With any low budget film, the filmmakers must focus on what’s created off screen in more detail as opposed to big budget blockbusters who have money to burn on CGI and A-list stars. My Bloody Valentine, not memorable or even particularly impressive in terms of its effects or acting, is however, brilliant when it comes to what has happened off screen. The sound is probably the most impressive part of the film. That and the direction by Mihalka. The final act is easily one of the most intense and frightening parts of any slasher I’ve seen and whilst the rest of the film may not compare to the more well-known classics like Halloween or Friday The 13th in terms of quality, the final act is, as far as I’m concerned, an absolute must watch.

Just look at that poster!!

A notable fact before we go any further…Quentin Tarantino named this as his favourite slasher film of all time. So now you know what you’ll be in for.

The premise of the film is as simple as any slasher’s premise is. A group of teens are getting ready for Valentine’s Day celebrations when a box of Valentine’s candy arrives with a bloody human heart and a threatening note in it. Harry Warden, the sole survivor of a mining accident 20 years ago (a disaster which could have been prevented had the supervisors not left their posts to go and celebrate Valentine’s Day) is back to seek revenge on those celebrating Valentine’s Day in the small town. You get the idea that it’s just a run of the mill, holiday-based slasher film but I can assure you, it’s so much more than that.

You can watch the trailer below for an idea of what the film is like…

I won’t go on about the cast of this one because they are small-time actors and are far from the best thing about this film. That’s not to say that they are bad in their roles but they certainly won’t make you change the way you think about acting.

Now, atmosphere. Atmosphere, as you should know by now, is my favourite aspect of horror movies and I believe that if you have a nice dark atmosphere in your horror film, it makes it a hell of a lot better. My Bloody Valentine is one of the most atmospheric slasher films I’ve ever seen…definitely the most atmospheric small slasher. Like I said before, the final act, which takes place deep in a mine (the cast and crew actually shot in a real mine hundreds of feet underground in these scenes), is incredible and that is due in no small part, to the overall atmosphere created. The camera, the sound, the locations, the lighting and even the acting all come together to create an incredibly intense atmosphere and a dark and frightening mood which leaves you glued to the screen with your heart beating out of your chest.

Now for the killer, who is of course, one of the most important parts of any slasher. It’s important to have a memorable and interesting killer and MBV also delivers on that front. Harry Warden, well just look at him…

If a creepy miner in a mask wielding a pickaxe isn’t enough to stick in your memory, I don’t know what is. A truly terrifying presence…his look is just another reason I love this film. And yes, I do love it. I’m not sure exactly what it is about it…perhaps it’s the fact that it’s so impressive despite having such a low budget or perhaps it’s the fact that it stands out against so many slashers that were made around this time.

When I say low budget, I don’t mean like Texas Chainsaw Massacre ($83,000) or The Last House On The Left ($90,000). MBV had a budget of approximately $2million. But still, I’m sure you’ll agree that it does a damn good job for its budget…it’s definitely one that sticks in the mind and I’m not sure I’ll ever be comfortable going down into a mine now. That’s the sign of a damn good horror movie!!

Next up on our journey is a film that needs no introduction, especially with its upcoming new TV series to add to the already glorious franchise. It’s often said that the second one (and not the one we’ll be talking about) is the better film and in this instance, I’m in agreement. However, this film, again from 1981, is pure genius from Sam Raimi. There have never been B-movies quite like this lot. I’m going to enjoy writing my post on it and you definitely know what it is now!!

Let me know your thoughts on My Bloody Valentine in the comments and contact me at morgan@thepurpledon.com if you have any inquiries or suggestions for improvements to posts!

The Journey Continues

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