You won’t find a lot of folks who’ll argue that the 1980s were a Golden Age of cinema. The dramas were as cheesy as the comedies, and barely anything — even some of the great films in the decade — holds up very well today. Sure, there were a couple of Star Wars movies (holdovers from the 70s), Kubrick was still going strong, Hughes was delivering, and both the Die Hard and Indiana Jones franchises were born. But all in all, the 80s and its big hair and synth-pop soundtracks kind of blew.
Except the horror genre. In the 60s, it was all psychological horror and the 70s were about atmospherics, but if you actually wanted to have a good time at a horror movie, there was no better decade to watch than the 1980s. Limited by their budgets, horror filmmakers had to trade heavily in creativity, and it wasn’t the directors or the actors who were the big stars of the decade, it was the make-up artists. Rick Baker, Tom Savini, and Stan Winston, to name a few. You didn’t go see a horror movie back then to be psychologically tormented, you didn’t go to be completely grossed out, and you certainly didn’t go to watch some gal get the shit beat out of her over and over again. You went because the boogeyman would come out of nowhere, you’d jump out of your seat, and then you’d laugh your goddamn ass off watching some poor teenager’s dismembered head roll down a flight of stairs permanently affixed with fellatio mouth. 80’s slasher films weren’t good, but they sure as hell were entertaining. And they beat the semen-encrusted pants off today’s sterile remakes, which rely heavily on the nihilism and are short on the splattacular laughs. Most of them are dull, and the ones that aren’t just make you sick. They’re uninspiring. I don’t imagine there are a lot of teenagers growing up today who want to be horror-movie directors or make-up artists, which is kind of a goddamn shame.
But then there’s My Bloody Valentine 3D, a movie that’s monumentally awful. But it’s the most fun I’ve had at a horror movie since the last Final Destination flick. What’s particularly troubling about My Bloody Valentine, however, is that I can’t tell if the director, Patrick Lussier (White Noise 2: The Light, Dracula 2000) is either a genius or spectacularly incompetent. The result, here, is the same: Horrendous acting, unbelievably awful plotting, and bloody fucking awesome death scenes. That’s the 80’s way, y’all. You know you’re watching a special kind of movie when a white crowd — and not just white, but Maine white — is yelling at the screen. The typical audience reaction: A bunch of teenagers laughing their fool goddamn heads off for 90 minutes and walking out, exclaiming “Worst Movie Ever!” In other words, My Bloody Valentine is sucktastic. The body count is huge, the gore is off the hook, and the plot is hilariously nonsensical.
My Bloody Valentine opens ten years ago in a small coal town. Tom Hanniger (Jensen ohmyfuckingodawful Ackles) mistakenly forgets to bleed the lines in a coal mine, and six men are trapped inside. One man, Harry Warden, uses a pick-axe to kill off the other five so that he’s got enough air to survive. Once rescued, Harry Warden is in a coma, but wakes a year later and goes on a hospital killing spree, before returning to the coal mine and fantastically murdering a group of teenagers. Only Tom, Axel (“Dawson Creek’s” Kerr Smith), Tom’s girlfriend, Sarah (Jaime King, who as a brunette is a dead ringer for Kimberly Williams), and Irene (Betsy Rue) survive before the police arrive and shoot Harry Warden dead.
Or did they?
Cut to ten years later. Tom — who has been mysteriously absent — returns to sell the coal mine after the death of his father. Sarah, the love of his life, is now married to Axel, who is the town sheriff (and who is also having an affair with a teenager that resulted in a pregnancy), and Irene is the town slut. Guess who dies first? If you said the slut, and if you correctly guessed that she ran buck naked through a parking lot and that a large-chested midget lady got a pick-axe up through the neck seconds before the town slut was poked full of holes, then you, sir, grew up in the 80s! Indeed, on the anniversary of the Valentine’s Day Massacre, either Harry Warden — in full-on coal miner gear — has returned from the dead, or someone has stolen is M.O., which is to brutally swing that pick-axe into the soft parts of the body — the eyeballs, below the chin, the neck, or even up through the taint. Failing that, a nice shovel into the mouth and out the back of the head will do fine, thank you very much.
And who is the prime suspect? Well, Tom, of course. Or maybe it’s the sheriff, who certainly has motive. Or hell: Maybe Harry Warden really is still alive. Ah, but who the hell cares: Just as long as he keeps that pick-axe in motion for 90 minutes, all is good. And there is nary a dead spot in My Bloody Valentine. It’s a full-throttle series of jump-scares and death scenes, punctuated occasionally by some of the worst acting you’ll ever see on the big-screen. Was it intentionally bad, or was it the product of a lot of untalented actors? Beats the hell out of me (though, with Ackles and Ker Smith, I’d lean toward the latter). But it doesn’t matter. I haven’t seen acting so spot-on awful since Kevin Bacon’s Wild Things. And miraculously, the whodunit at the center of the movie actually manages to remain a mystery until the final minutes — you may guess the real identity of the killer early on, but there are enough red herrings to raise doubt until the bitter end.
And what about the Real D 3D effects? Ummm. Cool. In fact, it adds to the gloriously cheesy experience — the format is ideal for horror flicks. With a 3D animated film (which is what most of the CGI films will be screened in from here on out), it’s going to be an immersive, visual treat — it’ll be fun to watch. But with horror films: It actually adds a lot more to the experience. It puts you a lot closer to the business end of a pick-axe. And when you jump out of your seat, you won’t jump forward, that’s for goddamn sure. It’s gimmicky as hell, but then again, the entire movie is beyond preposterous. Still, as far as horror movies go, this is a label that you don’t attached to slasher flicks very often anymore: It’s a motherfucking crowd pleaser.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives withi his wife and son in Portland, Maine You can reach him via email, or leave a comment below.
My Bloody Valentine 3D / Dustin Rowles
Film Reviews | January 17, 2009 | Comments ()