• My Bloody Valentine (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: February 11th, 2020.
    Director: George Mihalka
    Cast: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck
    Year: 1981
    Purchase From Amazon

    My Bloody Valentine– Movie Review:

    Valentine Bluff is a small town on the east coast of Canada whose local economy depends on the mine. Connected to that mine is a local folk story about a man named Harry Warden who, twenty years prior, was left stranded in said mine with a few other men when those in charge left to partake in the town’s Valentine’s Day dance. Harry wound up in an institution but soon escaped and a bunch people as an act of bloody revenge.

    Cut to the present day of 1981 and those in charge of Valentine Bluff apparently feel that enough time has passed that it’ll be okay to have another Valentine’s Day dance. There are, of course, complications here – see, the mayor’s own son, T.J. (Paul Kelman), has come back to his home town after not making it out west and is understandably upset to learn that his beloved Sarah (Lori Hallier) has been fooling around with Axel (Neil Affleck). There’s instantly tension between the three, but they and their friends - Hollis (Keith Knight), Howard (Alf Humphreys), Patty (Cynthia Dale), Sylvia (Helene Udy) and a few others – are all excited about the upcoming dance regardless.

    They aren’t celebrating for long. Soon enough, the sheriff gets a heart-shaped box he assumes to be full of candy but which in fact contains a human heart. After that, the woman who runs the local laundromat is found dead, stuffed into a dryer. It would seem that Harry Warden is back and up to his old tricks again. When the dance gets cancelled, the friends decide instead to have their own party at the mine itself. They stock up on Moosehead and head on out, living it up in the common room and then eventually making the fatal mistake of taking the girls on a tour of the mines themselves…

    If this isn’t the most original slasher film in terms of its story, My Bloody Valentine makes up for that with some excellent location work and impressive practical gore effects. The small-town setting might not be all that unique in the pantheon of horror films but the mine location is and it’s exploited very effectively by director George Mihalka and his crew. Some of the scenes are quite claustrophobic and the mine is shot in such a way as to ensure that it’s presented as cramped, confined, dirty and dark – a great spot to stage a slasher picture. The effects work is also top notch, and while the film was infamously trimmed quite heavily by the MPAA in order to get an R-rating, the full-strength version we see here is pretty strong stuff and offers up some genuinely memorable murder set pieces. Production values are also strong. This was made on a modest budget but the cinematography is very good and the score is pretty strong. There’s a lot of Moosehead Beer product placement in here, however!

    The acting in the film is pretty decent. Most of the characters are likeable enough even if there isn’t scores of character development here. The bartender who warns the crew of Harry Warden’s story is clearly just a Canadian version of Friday The 13th’s Crazy Ralph, but he’s fun to watch here. The principals all do decent work with the material.

    Note that Shout! Factory has done right by the fans and included both the original theatrical cut of the film as well as the considerably stronger uncut version of the film (the same cut that Lionsgate included – there isn’t previously unseen additional gore here as whatever hasn’t been uncovered at this point is likely lost). Most won’t need the theatrical cut as the uncut version makes for a much better, stronger horror picture but it’s nice to have it preserved here for the sake of posterity.

    My Bloody Valentine– Blu-ray Review:

    Each version of My Bloody Valentine comes to Blu-ray from Shout! Factory Entertainment in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 and taken from a new “4k scan of the original 35mm negative” on its own 50GB disc. Where the previous Blu-ray release from Lionsgate used low quality inserts for the deleted gore scenes, Shout! Factory’s transfer fixes that issue and now the excised bits and pieces match the rest of the film much more closely, though the colors don’t always match exactly (indicating that, like the Lionsgate release, this material was taken from a different source than the rest of the film – and if that’s what had to be done to get the film into the shape it is in here, then so be it!). Both transfers look great. Colors and detail do advance over the already pretty nice-looking Lionsgate Blu-ray that came out years back (and has been out of print for quite some time) overall, but especially in regards to the uncut material. Either way, both transfers offer up nice detail, excellent color reproduction and strong black levels with no noticeable compression or noise reduction issues.

    Both cuts of the film get DTS-HD Mono tracks in the film’s original English language. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. No complaints here – audio quality is crisp and clean. The music sounds quite good (love that closing theme song!) and the levels are nicely balanced. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion to complain about, this shapes up quite nicely overall, although the levels seem to be a bit lower on the uncut version than the theatrical but it sounds fine once up adjust the volume.

    Extras are spread across the two discs as follows:

    DISC 1 – Theatrical Version:

    Disc one starts off with a bunch of new featurettes, the first of which is An Anemic Valentine which is an interview with director George Mihalka. There is some crossover here with the commentary on the second disc but not so much as to make it repetitive. He covers the origins of the project, some of the quirks of the different characters in the film, the film’s history with the MPAA and the deleted scenes that do/don’t exist for the picture, shooting in Canada, his thoughts on the film’s legacy and the remake and quite a bit more.

    From The Heart is an interview with actor Paul Kelman that spends fourteen-minutes with him as he covers the killer’s identity, his character’s story arc, what it was like shooting inside a mine, his experiences on set, how he got along with the cast on set and his thoughts on the film’s enduring popularity. Actress Lori Hallier is up next in the nineteen-minute Friends Of Mine featurette. In this piece she discusses what it was like on set, how Mihalka was as a director, working with the different cast and crew members and her thoughts on the film overall. In Axel, Be My Valentine actor Neil Affleck gets fifteen-minutes in front of the camera to talk about how he wound up in the film, working with the cast and crew (particularly Peter Cowper), the locations and some of the film’s grislier moments.

    Becoming Sylvia interviews actress Helene Udy for seventeen-minutes about how she came to star in the film and her thoughts on her character as well as memories from the shoot, her death scene and some of the effects that were required, what it was like on set and more. Actor Rob Stein is up next in twenty-seven-minute The Secret Keeper. In this lengthy piece he gives us some background on his career, how he knew Mihalka from an earlier project, getting cast in this picture, the effects work featured in the picture, the state of genre pictures in the Canadian film industry of the film, the film’s locations and how he came to be quite friendly with both Alf Humphreys and Helene Udy. Broken Hearts And Broken Bones gets special makeup effects designer Tom Burman in front of the camera for ten-minutes to talk about his training and education, his work in the Canadian film industry, how he landed the gig on My Bloody Valentine and how he really isn’t into slasher films at all!

    Shout! Factory also provides a thirteen-minute featurette called Holes In The Heart which examines the differences between the theatrical version and the uncut version. This is done by a way of side-by-side comparisons showing the uncut version and cut version together and it gives you a pretty good idea of just how scissor-happy the MPAA got when insisting in trims to get the film an R-rating.

    Rounding out the extras on disc one are the original theatrical trailer, a few TV spots and radio spots, a pretty massive still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    DISC 2 – Uncut Version:

    Disc two starts off with an audio commentary with director George Mihalka. It’s a decent track with Mihalka and an unnamed moderator (who can occasionally be a bit hard to hear) discussing how and why the movie wound up being shot in Nova Scotia, securing the authentic mine location to shoot the bulk of the movie in and some of the complexities involved in working down there, lighting issues, the film’s issues with the censors and some material that he wanted to include that would seem to have been lost to time, the cinematography and the effects work, working with the local community to get the movie made and how some members of that community participated in the production and quite a bit more. Lots of good information in here. Mihalka also provides a quick half-minute introduction to the film where he notes that this is as close to his original vision as it’s going to get.

    As far as featurettes go, disc two contains a My Bloody Valentine 35th Anniversary Cast Reunion panel at the 2016 Bay Of Blood Convention in Florida. Here, over forty-seven-minutes we hear from Mihalka, cast members Lori Hallier, Helene Udy, Rob Stein, Peter Cowper, Thomas Kovacs, Jim Murchison, Alf Humphreys and moderator by Brian Singleton. It’s a pretty great piece as all involved seem to genuinely enjoy seeing one another again and telling stories from the time they spent on the shoot. The audience is clearly into it as well, this is a pretty fun inclusion on the disc.

    Also shot at the same convention and included here is some footage of Thomas Kovacs performing ‘The Ballad Of Harry Warden’ (the song that plays over the end credits of the movie) with some help from Peter Cowper and Jim Murchison. Menus and chapter selection are included on the second disc as well.

    As far as the packaging goes, we get some nice reversible cover art with some newly created artwork on one side and some original poster art on the reverse, as well as a collectible slipcover (for the first pressing only).

    My Bloody Valentine– The Final Word:

    My Bloody Valentine might not be the most original slasher film ever made in terms of its plot, but it makes excellent use of its great locations, quirky characters and small-town setting to craft a memorable and entertaining horror picture. Shout! Factory treats the film very well with this two-disc edition, presenting both cuts of the film in great shape and with a host of interesting extra features. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full-sized My Bloody Valentine Blu-ray screen caps!