Directed by George Mihalka
Starring Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck and Don Francks
Someone doesn’t want the local residents to have their annual Valentine’s dance and will kill to make sure they don’t go through with it. It wouldn’t be much of a movie if they locals didn’t listen, so a killer dressed as a miner shows up to break some hearts, literally.
The small mining town of Valentine Bluffs hasn’t had a Valentine’s dance in twenty years due to a dirty little secret no one likes to talk about. Except for the resident crazy old man, who lets us in on just what happened. Back in the early 60s, there were a group of miners still in the mine while their supervisors took off for the yearly Valentine’s dance, leaving them down there. A methane explosion goes unnoticed and they’re trapped for a long time until they’re dug out and only one person is left alive, Harry Warden, after cannibalizing his co-workers. He went away for a year to a mental facility but when he got out, he murdered the supervisors and got away with a warning to never…ever have a Valentine’s dance again or he’ll be back.
A group of local miners are thrilled that the dance is back on this year, acting more like horny teenagers rather than responsible adults. Who gets this excited over a dance? They don’t really believe the crazy old man’s scary story and feel that Warden is locked up for good anyway. However, the day before the dance, the owner of the mine is given a valentine’s box of chocolates that actually just has a heart in it and it’s not long before the sheriff lets everyone know that the dance is off because they can’t find out of Warden is locked up or not. So no dance this year….OR IS THERE??
The kids, er adults, decide to the keep the dance going in secret, but Harry seems to have his finger on the pulse of this town and knows the dance is still on and keeps on murdering the townsfolk instead of letting them have their fun. The party moves into the mines which is the perfect place for Harry to corner them all.
After big holiday slasher hits like Halloween and Friday the 13th (not a holiday, but you get my drift) it wasn’t uncommon for any of these celebratory days to have a slasher flick associated with them, just look up how many Christmas-themed films there are. Making a slasher around Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be too difficult. Aside from having to strain the credibility of a man who really takes dances and sock hops a little too seriously, the film is played like many 80s slasher films. There’s familiar cast of characters, the killer with a trademark mask and weapon, and slightly implausible storyline with a twist ending but hey, it’s not like they’re shooting someone into space. Silly but harmless, I guess is what I’d call it.
Not so harmless in 1981 though, the MPAA made the filmmakers cut out the gory scenes but thankfully when Lionsgate got the rights to the franchise to do the remake, they also released the uncut version of the original, which is what I viewed. While the violence on tap pales in comparison to the stylized violence in the remake, they still have some bite after all these years. There’s a disgusting eyeball gag, the head on the shower pipe scene is even more brutal than before, the nail gun scene is gross. It’s great that old effects still hold up for so long. All in all, an average but entertaining entry in the early days of the American slasher craze.
Story: 5 – It’s a silly premise but there’s far worse to come out of the 80s for an excuse to have an on screen serial killer.
Blood: 7 – Lots of attacks with a pickaxe, there’s the nail gun to the head, a pipe shoved into the back of someone’s head, death by dryer. Definitely an interesting assortment of death that’s better if you watch the unrated version.
Nudity: 0 – Nothing!
Overall: 7 – A fun slasher with a silly story but great looking killer. If you don’t like older films, though, you’d do well to watch the remake which is also quite good.
-The film was actually made in a small mining town in Nova Scotia, Canada.
-Quentin Tarantino considers “My Bloody Valentine” to be his favorite slasher flick.
-The Irish band “My Bloody Valentine” took their name from the movie.