Friends, somehow in all of the hustle and bustle of work and preparing for a winter storm, I missed the 40th anniversary for My Bloody Valentine. Which is a shame as I have been a staunch supporter of the Canadian slasher film since it was originally released 4 decades ago on February 11th of 1981. I was not able to catch the movie at the drive-in theater of my youth, but upon seeing it on The Movie Channel it easily became one of my all-time favorite slasher films. My Bloody Valentine is a horror film that ‘when the 14th comes ’round’, as “The Ballad of Harry Warden” tune goes, I will gladly pop into the player for a chance to revisit.
One of the reasons that I am such a fan of My Bloody Valentine is the fact that unlike most of the slashers of that era – the characters were actually quite likeable. You will most definitely care for the majority of the young blue-collar workers of the Hanniger mine as they start to get picked off – the film racing to what was then a somewhat startling conclusion. While the lion’s share of the credit should be given to Neil Affleck (The Simpsons), Lori Hallier (Star Trek: Voyager), and Paul Kelman (Black Roses) as the trio of main characters – even the supporting cast manage to be quite memorable.
Another element that I feel sets My Bloody Valentine apart from other slasher films of the early ’80s is the soundtrack by Paul Zaza (Murder by Decree), in particular the beautifully haunting “The Ballad of Harry Warden” which was composed by Zaza and sung by John McDermott.
When My Bloody Valentine was released by Paramount Pictures in ’81, it didn’t exactly manage to overflow the studio coffers – on a budget of 2.3 million it managed to earn 5.7 during it’s initial theatrical run. While that obviously meant that at the very least it earned back the film’s production costs, what was considered by the studio to be weak returns sadly meant that any hopes for a sequel featuring the iconic character of The Miner and his continuing bloody revenge against the town of Valentine Bluffs were quashed.
As the Projectionist and I discussed on the Saturday Frights podcast episode where we tackled My Bloody Valentine, the film by all accounts was dealt a rather heavy hand when submitted to the review board. This treatment is believed by Director George Milhaka (Eternal Evil) to have been because of the tragic death of John Lennon in December of 1980 – with violence in movies being targeted by the MPAA afterwards. John Dunning who was one of the producers on My Bloody Valentine has gone on record stating he felt that the film was “cut to ribbons” thanks to having to submit the film with more and more edits to the picture each time in an effort to avoid an X-rating.
It would take a staggering 28 years after the original release before fans of My Bloody Valeninte were able to see the film as Milhaka had intended – with Lionsgate producing a special edition DVD and Blu-ray. This also happened to be around the time of their 2009 big budget 3D remake starring Jensen Ackles (Supernatural), Jamie King (Sin City), and Kerr Smith (Final Destination).
In closing out this article, those of us at Pop Culture Retrorama sincerely hope you have a safe and very happy Valentine’s Day. When the sun sets though and perhaps your thoughts turn to horror films – why not join us in celebrating the 40th anniversary of My Bloody Valentine? If you do not have the time to watch the classic slasher though, perhaps you might enjoy listening to episode 81 of the Saturday Frights podcast instead?