‘My Bloody Valentine’: Horror News Network Looks Back

by Thomas Tuna

Roses. Sentimental cards. A box of expensive chocolates. All images conjured up by the annual day of love–Valentine’s Day.

But, what about a shadowy figure dressed in coal miner’s gear, swinging a bloody pickaxe? That’s what most horror fans think of on that day. And all because of 1981’s My Bloody Valentine.

The Canadian slasher film–directed by George Mihalka from a screenplay by John Beaird and starring Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier and Neil Affleck–has become a true cult classic over the last four decades.

The film, as fans know, follows a group of young adults who thrown a Valentine’s Day party–only to fall victims to the vengeful wrath of a maniac in mining gear who goes on a killing spree.

But, how many fans know the film was initially ripped by critics and generally ignored by moviegoers, earning just $5.7 million against its $2.3 million budget?

And then there were the problems the film had with the censors. The violent and gory movie was slapped with an X rating by the MPAA, and went through extensive cuts to every death sequence to earn an R-rating. Ironically, producer John Dunning lamented that the film was “cut to ribbons” by the MPAA.

Even with all the cuts, critics were none too kind to the finished product. One reviewer commented that the only good thing about My Bloody Valentine is that “it gives you more than the usual m.p.g.p.–murders per gallon of popcorn.” Another critic wrote that the film “probably won’t make you shiver with fright, but it’s almost certain to make you squirm–first with irritation and then with revulsion.”

Another review gave the film a back-handed compliment, noting that movies like this are “designed to make you jump, scream, hide your eyes and talk about what bad taste the movie makers are capable of. My Bloody Valentine does all that.”

One critic gave the movie just one out of four stars, saying it was a “dismal and depressing horror film” and merely another entry “in that most depressing of film genres–the mad-slasher-with-a-knife.”

But, as the years passed, something interesting happened. Hindsight kicked in and appreciation for the film grew.

Entertainment Weekly in 2007 ranked the movie 17th on its list of “guilty pleasures” and called it “the most criminally underappreciated  of the slasher genre.”  Going one step further, legendary filmmaker Quentin Tarantino called My Bloody Valentine his favorite slasher movie. One film historian even wrote that the movie was “one of the best and most polished slasher films.”

So, on this Valentine’s Day, will fans watch (or re-watch) this cult favorite? Cuddle up next to your significant other and give it a try. But leave the pickaxe in the closet.

 

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