Retro Review: MY BLOODY VALENTINE (2009){0}

George Mihalka’s 1981 Canadian slasher movie My Bloody Valentine is sort of a rarity among similar flicks of the era for a few reasons: Instead of stupid teenagers, the movie is populated with (fairly stupid) grown-ups; it aims to add a small air of mystery-style “whodunnit?” to a generally standard “slasher” premise; and (weirdly enough), it never warranted any sort of sequels. For these reasons, plus the fact that it’s actually a little creepy and often quite nasty, the old-school horror fans have held a small place in their heart for this odd little Halloween knock-off.

And those fans, in addition to lots of younger horror freaks, are likely to have a big-time, blood-soaked ball with Patrick Lussier’s new version. The 2009 edition of My Bloody Valentine also comes in a very nifty 3-D presentation, which adds a slick layer of icing to a familiar (but quite tasty) cupcake of carnage. Boasting a fast pace, a twisted sense of humor, a few surprisingly strong performances, and more creative dispatches than you’ll know what to do with. The 3-D gimmick adds a lot to the “fun value” of this basic-yet-appealing slasher remake, but it also helps (a lot) that My Bloody Valentine offers just enough plot and character to keep us interested in between all the morbid mayhem.

Jensen Ackles stars as Tom, a guy who once caused a horrible accident inside of a mine, only to have the only survivor turn around and slaughter 22 people … but now it’s ten years later and Tom is returning to his home town, and guess what? It’s time for another batch of horrific murders to hit the scene. But WHO is the crazy slasher? Is it the original killer Harry Warden — or is it the short-fused young sheriff? Heck, it could even be Tom!

But the “mystery” aspect is not what you’re really here for, which makes its inclusion little more than a clever (enough) way to spin the wheels in between the scary / splattery sections. And suffice to say that the new My Bloody Valentine is infinitely more interested in jolts, shocks, and mayhem than it is with its “drama.” And that’s how it should be for a 3-D remake of a goofy old slasher movie. Director Patrick Lussier offers just enough of a foundation for the shocks, and then steams full ahead with big, generous doses of stuff that horror fans love most: Creative kills, impressive FX, and just enough shocks to make the flick feel like a carnival ride. It’s debatable as to whether My Bloody Valentine is all that SCARY, but it does manage to jolt, shock, and sicken with impressive frequency. (I use “sicken” as a compliment here, since most of the hardcore gore FX are pretty damn solid.)

And if you need one more reason to climb aboard an enthusiastically energetic little horror movie, well, here’s one: My Bloody Valentine will screen in 3-D in several (select) theaters, and I must admit that the old-fashioned gimmick works alarmingly well here. Whether we’re dodging a pick-axe in the head or chuckling as a severed ear flies over our heads, there’s a lot of slick little novelties to be found here. Better yet, the 3-D technology allows for not only “in your face” stuff, but also an “extra depth” perception that adds a lot more atmosphere to the underground chases. And you simply haven’t lived until you’ve enjoyed a 3-D horror film in which a buck-naked woman grabs a gun and chases her sleazebaggy lover into a parking lot, only to end up on the business end of a pick-axe.

So obviously it’s not high art, and it’s certainly not for all tastes, but if you’re an old-school horror fan and you thought this remake was a really stupid idea, I recommend you give the flick a shot and tell me if you don’t end up a little bit surprised at how fun the flick is. 3-D doo-hickeys aside, and judging My Bloody Valentine by the yardstick it deserves, I’d call it a very amusing retro-slasher bloodbath that absolutely delivers on all of its promises. (Plus it has a great score.) I was expecting a fun ride, but I ended up pleasantly surprised when My Bloody Valentine turned out to be a horror remake on par with Texas Chainsaw ’03 and Dawn of the Dead ’04. No pretense, no delusions, just basic stalk and shock mayhem with a 3-D coating that works unexpectedly well.