Love is in the air this month because of everyone’s favorite greeting card holiday, Valentine’s Day. Kicking off a string of love related Valentine related posts, I’d like to offer up another installment of the Venn Diagram series with a comparison of the two My Bloody Valentine films. Take a look and see what I thought about the 1981 and 2009 versions of the holiday horror story.


My Bloody Valentine (1981) Directed by George Mihalka. Starring Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier and Neil Affleck.

The original film popped up right in the height of the “holiday horror” craze started by John Carpenter’s Halloween. It received mixed critical reviews and opened to small box office numbers. The film was also initially surrounded by controversy because it was reported that the bastards at the MPAA demanded massive cuts from the movie’s gruesome death scenes.  But years later, My Bloody Valentine has cemented cult status among fans of the genre and is largely considered to be an underrated gem.

MBV is a typical slasher film by most standards and mainly excels because it plays  up the key points. The plot centers around a small mining town called Valentine’s Bluff, a town that deals with that dark history of a horrific mining accident. Back in the 60’s, an accidental explosion in the town’s mine leaves five men trapped as the rest of the residents parties down at the local Valentine’s Day dance. One of the trapped men, Harry Warden, is able to survive by eating the other crew members and subsequently goes mad. Out for revenge, Warden escapes his current digs at the mental hospital, goes on a murder spree and warns everyone not to have any more fucking V-Day dances. Jumping forward 20 years, the townsfolk attempts to forget the terrible past events by organizing (of course – you guessed it) a Valentine’s day dance. The young miners and their ladies are getting pumped for the festivities, unfortunately a masked miner is already back to killing off the citizens.

Even with the stupid characters and sub par acting, My Bloody Valentine really has everything else you want in a slasher film. The Valentine’s Day Dance and decorations throughout the town offer up a perfect contrasting background for mayhem to ensue. Also, what’s creepier than a dark mine shaft and faceless miner’s suit? Both make for great elements in the horror story. And if you’re wondering about the gore, the film is certainly not lacking. Even now, the practical effects look great and each death makes you ponder just how far they will go. The film’s story will even keep you guessing til the end where the movie wraps up with a solid conclusion. Overall, the movie is consistently fun, surprising and actually  pretty scary. If you can stomach the less than likable cast of young adults, I think any horror fan would be satisfied with the film.


My Bloody Valentine (2009) Directed by Patrick Lussier. Starring Jensen Ackles, Jaime King and Kerr Smith.

With the recent installment, slashers are becoming a popular genre again thanks to the resurgence of 1980’s horror in the form of gritty remakes. But My Bloody Valentine didn’t need a gritty reboot, just a glossier version of the original. This is an example of exactly how to remake a horror film. It’s updated and modern, while never loosing focus of what the original film had in mind. Except this time…. it’s in 3D!


Yes, 2009 produced the first rated R endeavor into the third dimension. The 1981 original pushed the boundaries of gore on screen and the 2009 film boosted that by working with brand new technology. I normally never like CGI updates of classic practical effects, but the work done on this film looks great in both 3D and 2D. The camerawork and cinematography in the film are used wisely to create real tension between the characters and their environment while never loosing the audience’s attention.


The film also features differences in plot, mainly with the omission of the holiday dance. Instead, a few more extraneous characters are introduced to kill off and the movie’s leads are more mature than the previous versions of the same characters. The kills of course differ from film to film, but the remake chooses to include a lot of great homages. Best of all, the film still manages to throw in surprises with those familiar with the original flick’s story.


The Similarities

While each of the My Bloody Valentine installments are clearly films with different gifts to offer, both manage to give the audience what they want. Blood and guts ooze from the screen and push the limits of the viewers. Both films tone lies somewhere between campy and genuinely scary, a perfect mix when you get it right. It’s also good to note that each film deals with the running theme of a love triangle between the lead characters in a way that compliments the story and gives more depth to the concept of “Bloody Valentine.”