My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)

Reviewed By Peter Sobczynski
Posted 01/16/09 03:37:03

"To Mine Own Self Be Grue"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

Although the horror film proved to be a favorite for producers utilizing the gimmick of 3-D projection during both its initial wave of popularity in the Fifties, when audiences found themselves screaming and ducking during the likes of “House of Wax,” “The Mad Magician” and “The Creature From the Black Lagoon,” and its subsequent return in the Eighties, which offered up the likes of “Jaws 3-D,” “Amityville 3-D” and the infamous “Friday the 13th Part 3-D,” the genre hasn’t had much of an impact during its current revival--unless I am overlooking something, virtually all of the 3-D titles to come out over the last couple of years have either been animated films or lightweight adventures like “Journey to the Center of the Earth” that have been aimed squarely at the family market. The producers of “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” appear to have noticed the lack of such movies and have endeavored to single-handedly make up for it with a spectacularly gory funhouse ride of a film that starts flinging viscera and pickaxes at the audience maybe a minute into the film and keeps doing so for the next 100 in a shameless attempt to entertain/gross out viewers.

As horror buffs of a certain age no doubt know, “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” is a remake of a 1981 Canadian film that was one of the more memorable titles to emerge from the cycle of mad slasher films that inundated theaters in the wake of “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th.” Taking place in the small mining town of Harmony, the film opens with a series of newspaper headlines recounting the story of a mine cave-in caused by the inattentiveness of Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles), the son of the mine’s owner, that resulted in six trapped men being brutally murdered by a seventh, Harry Warden, in an effort to conserve the remaining oxygen. One year to the day after the accident, Harry wakes up from the coma that he has been in since his discovery and slaughters half the staff of the local hospital (luckily, his muscle system hasn’t been affected at all by a year of disuse) before heading back to the mine. Inexplicably, a group of hot young things, including Tom, girlfriend Sarah (Jaime King) and romantic rival Axel (Kerr Smith), are partying the night away there as well and Harry murders most of them with his trusty pickaxe before being shot and left for dead by Sheriff Burke (Tom Atkins). Ten years later, Tom, who fled town immediately after the attacks, returns to Harmony after the death of his father in order to put the mine up for sale. Inevitably, his return coincides with a new series of bloody pickax murders committed by someone dressed in a miner’s outfit. It seems as though Harry Warden didn’t die and has inexplicably returned to begin killing off a new round of people who are connected to the mine but when Burke and fellow old timer Ben (Kevin Tighe) offer up some long-buried information that suggests that Harry couldn’t possibly have done it, suspicion begins to fall on Tom. As the population of Harmony begins to drop precipitously, Tom tries to prove his innocence while trying to protect former love Sarah from a grisly fate while Axel, who has become both the new sheriff and Sarah’s unfaithful husband, tries to prove that Tom is the killer after all.

Of course, I realize that no one reading this review gives a tinker’s damn for the film‘s plotting, which is a good thing since it is pretty shoddy from a narrative perspective--it tries to act like a whodunit at times but only supplies viewers with two plausible suspects and the climactic revelation is a total cheat. The only things they want to know are “Is the 3-D any good?” and “How gory is it?” Regarding the former, the 3-D effects are uniformly good from a technical perspective--even though most of the film takes place in the dark, which often mutes its effectiveness, the effects are crisp and clear throughout--and director Patrick Lussier is cheerfully shameless in his efforts to throw as many objects at the camera as he can possibly think of. As for the gore factor, the film throws the red stuff around with abandon as it demonstrates the many different and demented ways in which a person can be killed with a pickax. However, the killings are so ridiculously over the top that it is impossible to take them too seriously and as the film progresses, you find yourself wondering how it can possibly top itself with the next killing and for the most part, it manages to do just that. Genre purists may complain that the bloodshed is too silly for its own good but after enduring such grim and gruesome exercises in nihilistic sadism as the “Hostel” and “Saw” films, the gleefully gruesome goofiness on display here actually comes as a welcome relief.

There really isn’t much more to say about “My Bloody Valentine 3-D”--those viewers who are fans of trashy horror films are likely to love it (assuming that they are able to see it in 3-D) while those who aren’t are advised to avoid it at all costs. It is trash, of course, but it is undeniably entertaining trash for the most part and after spending a couple of months watching one piece of self-important Oscar bait after another, its blend of blood, guts and gratuitous nudity (the latter supplied by starlet Betsy Rue in a performance that is sure to be hailed as one of the all-time greats by Mr. Skin) does come as a strangely welcome respite from all the cinematic seriousness of late. The results may not be subtle and they may not be good by any normal critical standards but on some dumb and fundamental level, it delivers the goods in a manner that will no doubt entertain its target audience--which is basically defined as anyone who sees the words “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” and thinks “I gotta see this!”--and will no doubt cause everyone else to either throw up their hands in disgust or merely throw up.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.