Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Bloody Valentines Day!

Yesterday we talked about Jason's valentine day plans (let's be honest, it's all going to involve his mamma).
     But today is Valentine's Day. The true Valentine's Day. For you this may mean giving candy to your sweetheart. Meeting up with friends at a Valentine dance. Drinking till the pain goes away. What about traveling miles underground and hiding from a crazed miner. Yes, grab your all denim outfits and a case of Moosehead, we're heading to Valentine's Bluffs for...

 Thanks to Cyrus Rentfro for posting.

      Yes lovers, once again this time of the year is means that the cold hand of despair in the air and everything is bathed in blood red. Excuse the melodrama, but this is Valentines.

      Nothing is more dramatic then Valentines day. I don't want to give the illusion that I hate love or hearts or flowers or all that jazz. I think the idea of Valentines Day is quite charming in its own right, and there was once a genuine emotion behind it, but that idealism has left the stratosphere for greater shores. The residue we have left is that of overkill from Hallmark and Godiva samplers. In the immortal words of 'The Crow's' Michael Wincott...

"Fuck you, pay me". Wait, that's 'Goodfellas'. Also, what's the deal with 90's Goth fashion?

"The idea has become the institution". Thus the holiday became a Holiday. The one thing that is universal about "Holidays" is that they will be exploited, for that is their nature. It is also universally known that the best exploiters are those in the horror industry. This in some cases is not a bad thing, certainly when it involves "Holidays". The slasher genre gave us both 'Black Christmas' and 'Halloween' using two well known calendar dates as the basis.  It was only a matter of time before V-day was put in the crosshairs. 

This heart shaped bull's eye was called 'My Bloody Valentine' (1981). Released during the rising wave of the slasher craze, 'My Bloody Valentine' was labeled as a 'Friday the 13th' clone upon its release and criticized for it's mean streak and downbeat ending (imagine that, in a horror movie no less). It is true that the film does contain some classic Friday devices, but there is so much more to this little slice of stalker heaven. The story concerns the town of Valentine's Bluffs (zing) having its first Valentine's Day dance in over twenty years. It seems that these dances were so vogue back then that two supervisors decided to leave a bunch of workers in the mines. As expected shit hit the fan and all of the miners were trapped. Days later they find a single miner alive, it seems that he had gone crazy from the cave-in (oh, and the feasting on his fellow buddies). 

Happy Valentine's Day, you're watching a cannibal movie now.
 The very next year said mad miner, named Harry Warden, comes back and kills the two supervisors, leaving their hearts in chocolate boxes at the dance with a warning to never throw a Valentine shindig again. Fast forward to the present and guess what is found at where the new dance is going to be? A heart-shaped box with...yeah, you know in it. It seems old Harry Warden is back to fuck up your groove machine. I must give credit to the filmmakers for making something like a heart-shaped box a thing of fear. Each time one appears you know no good is in the air.

Happy Valentine's Day, this will be a reoccurring motif.

 Location is essential to the mood and atmosphere of any decent horror film, becoming a character if done right. With every campsite and suburb home now being the residence for maniacs something new was needed, so the film's producers decided to go north. FAR north. Taking place in a microscopic mining town, the ever-present gray skies and chilly weather seem almost foreign to those who watch it. This is no accident being that it was filmed in Canada with a mostly Canadian cast. This adds to the blue collar charm and tiny town mentality that I have come to love from this film. 
Happy Valentine's Day, here's a bunch of 70's Canadians (well, early 80's know...Canada).

As strange as it sounds, 'My Bloody Valentine' is really about mining. Everything significant in the film takes place around or in reference to the mine. They all work in the mine. The town is based around the mine. The dance takes place...AT THE MINE.  This actually all adds to the feeling of dread within the movie. Nothing creates more tension then the killer, dressed as a miner no less, systematically smashing the only lights in the shaft, making it pitch black except for the light attached to his helmet. Another great factor of My Bloody Valentine is its cast. Yes, gone are the horny, stoned teenager and in it's place is the...horny, stoned young adult. This doesn't seem like a big change, but one must realize that now a 28 year old actor can play a 28 year old. Being a slasher film you realize that it is required that stereotypical characters need be present here (many lifted straight from Camp Crystal Lake it seems), but a type of wordplay is put in effect I refer to as the law of H's. There is the good looking protagonist T.J Hanniger, half of the authority figure duo/Mayor Hanniger, crazed soothsayer bartender Happy, dumbass trickster "you just know he will get his" Howard, bad-ass with a handlebar moustache "you want to live, but doesn't have a chance" Hollis and of course crazed killer/amateur poet Harry Warden. There is also a mixture of other individuals of interest such as police chief/advent pipe smoker Jake or love interest/final girl Sarah. Then there is Axel. What can I say about Axel? The other good looking protagonist that makes up the love triangle of the plot, his most telling feature (despite being named Axel) is how the man enters a party:

Clearly a king among men, bless you Axel.

Finally, no great horror movie can be complete without a proper villain. A factor that has always added something for me in a slasher films was the attire the killers decided to don. Whether its Michael's featureless mask or even the insanely simple pillowcase Jason first had, you're only as good as your fashion sense. Harry is dressed to the nines while still being functional. Head to toe in black with heavy boots, he appears as many killers do in these type of outings. The key here is that everybody is wearing that same damn thing! It's the mining uniform! How can you tell who's the killer when he blends perfectly? 

Fashion forward.

 The idea of a pick axe does not seem frightening on first inspection, but I'm sure that changes when it's coming for you head. This all leads to the most sinister aspect of Harry: the gas-mask. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is as creepy or off-putting as a guy running around in a gas-mask. Add a light to his helmet to blind victims and you have yourself one bad mofo miner-49er (had to be done.).

I could continue on and on (and on) about 'My Bloody Valentine', but why spoil it. Watch the film above and discover this achievement in moodiness. And to celebrate the holidays, here's my very own Valentine card to all you lovers out there.
Happy Valentine's Day, you just read an entire blog article about 'My Bloody Valentine'.

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