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Movies Eddie McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
My Bloody Valentine 3D
MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D - 2009
Lionsgate
Rated: USA : R

For years I've had a growing respect for Editor and Director Patrick Lussier. For about the past 20 years he's been Wes Craven's goto guy for editing (NEW NIGHTMARE, SCREAM [all], RED EYE). During that time he's also broke out and directed on his own (DRACULA 2000 [all], WHITE NOISE 2). But up to and including MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D, Patrick is always second string making either sequels or remakes, but never going it on his own. This, despite his years as a Horror Thriller fan and creator, has made his name far less known than those Horror Thriller director's we wish would go away (and you know which ones I mean).

The original Canadian version of MY BLOODY VALENTINE stands as one of the best slashers ever made despite having the severe crippling of an inane story. In the original 1981 movie, written by Stephen A. Miller (also produced) and the late John Beaird (HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, TRAPPED), a mining town really REALLY wants to have a Valentine's Day dance. But they know that if they do, some slasher will come out of the ground and slaughter everybody with his pickaxe. He does this because of a mining accident from 20 years before. So they put on the dance, the slasher comes out and starts butchering people, most everyone didn't think to bring a gun to shoot the son of a bitch for when this predictable thing would happen, and instead they call off the dance. That didn't sit well with a bunch of barely illegal teens who really WANT to have a Valentine's Day dance in the worst way. What would be the worst way? Why illegally having the dance INSIDE the mine! Needless to say, there were a lot of Darwin Award Winners THAT night!

The original MY BLOODY VALENTINE is the first slasher movie I can remember where you actually WANTED the innocent to die because they were just too freaking stupid to live. And it was cathartic because the characters were modeled after the standard biggest assholes at high school anyway (at least the ones you see in every teen movie ever made. Nobody ever writes about a creepy writer, who can't stop himself - even under threat of a butt-kicking - from ogling your girlfriend as if he would molest her at the first opportunity). The original had that one major flaw (everyone would live if they just didn't celebrate Valentine's Day! Or if they at least all armed themselves and could shoot the bastard dead the second he appeared), but despite that was otherwise very good. Thanks to director George Mihalka (his best movie) and cinematographer Rodney Gibbons (THE AMITYVILLE CURSE, SCREAMERS, DEAD INNOCENT) the scares were genuine and when the movie got inside the mines you could feel the claustrophobia.

"What's the damn point of all of that freaking history?" you may ask. "This is a remake and should stand on its own!"

I give you that because we're in an era of re imagining and remakes. Where faltering studios choose to base their Horror Thriller theatrical releases on past proven winners (Michael Bay's THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, Michael Bay's THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, Michael Bay's THE HITCHER, Alexander Aja's THE HILLS HAVE EYES, Alexander Aja's MIRRORS, Rob Zombies' HALLOWEEN, etc.) and then claim victory by competence thanks to a great opening weekend, which largely has to do with the goodwill of the fans of the original and not the remake (let's see how your movie does in the second week, pal!). This one also had a gimmick: in many of the theaters, it was 3D.

So writers Todd Farmer (JASON X, THE MESSENGERS) and Zane Smith did away with that part of the story right away. This is how director Patrick Lussier told their story.

The movie opens with a series of 3D effects of newspapers and the chatter of various voices. A long time ago, there was an accident in the mines. Miners died. Only one was rescued, Harry Warden (Richard John Waters), alive but in a coma from oxygen starvation. Investigation discovered that he survived by butchering the other miners with his pick axe so there would be more air left for him. Credits over: it's years later and we see Harry in the hospital and still in the coma. Then he isn't in the coma. Then, despite the obvious fact that he should be too atrophied to even crawl, he goes on a superhuman rampage butchering everyone he can in the hospital and disappearing into the night. Lots of gore and body count, but the audience never gets the chance to get emotionally attached to any of them. Just as well because the victims are unattached to themselves.

Then we see a mess O' teens partying at the entrance to the mine shaft. Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles: DARK ANGEL [TV], SUPERNATURAL [TV]) is reluctantly dragged to the party by his girlfriend, Sarah (Jaime King: SIN CITY, THE TRIPPER, THE SPIRIT). He doesn't want to be there because, years before, he was the cause of the mining accident. Which sent Harry Warden over the edge; Warden went on various slaughtering rampages, and lowered the community spirit to no end. To the town, Tom is the cause of all of their misery. This holds especially true for Alex Palmer (Kerr Smith: FINAL DESTINATION). He's with Irene (Betsy Rue), but seems to be curiously worried about Sarah hanging out with Tom. In fact, he threatens to kick Tom's ass if he sees him. But when Tom shows up, Alex keeps quiet. But not for long because, before the audience gets emotionally attached to any of the characters, they all get unattached to themselves!

Yep! Crazy Harry is back, swinging his pick axe IN 3D! Harry wasn't buried beneath a hospital, so I don't get why he went bananas there. The open shaft of the mine where he was buried and went apeshit seems to make more sense. Just as Harry discovers the cause of all of his problems, Tom, he gets shot several times over by the miraculous appearance of the doddering sheriffs including Burke (Tom Atkins: THE FOG, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH).

Yet that was the past too. So here we are in the present and Alex is a cop having an affair with Megan (Megan Boone) behind his wife's back. Who is his wife? Sarah (ah HA!). Tom returns to town after 10 years. See, his Pop is dead and willed him the mine. Tom is not only the most unpopular guy in town, he's also the owner of the mine. That's sticky! All Tom wants to do is sign some papers to sell the mine and get the hell back out of Dodge. This puts the nose of the town lawyer, old Ben Foley (Kevin Tighe: ROSE RED [TV], LOST [TV]), out of joint. Ben makes an angry point of how, if Tom sells the mine then everyone in town will lose their jobs! This mine is all anyone has! Where will they go if Tom sells the mine?

For that matter, where will the mine go if Tom sells it? It's not a factory you can close down and rebuild elsewhere. You can't move a freaking mine to another country where people will work for lower wages. And who spends a fortune for an active mine just to shut it down? How could changing ownership of the mine lose anyone their jobs? I mean, no one is going to go to the expense of moving in a bunch of miners from another mine and another town or country to take over the jobs of the miners who already live there. Where would you put all of the new miners? This makes no sense and no one bothers to explain the big deal. And the fact that Tom is selling the mine and leaving town just as soon as he entered is a major plot point. But it makes no sense. I hate things that make no sense. It's all so senseless! So this is what's known as a major plot hole. Old Ben bitches Tom right out the door and Tom goes to stay in a hotel.

While he is at the hotel, and in the very next room, a fornicating couple get into a fight when the woman, a grown-up and delightfully naked Irene (Whoops! So that's what happened when she lost her Alex) discovers that Frank the trucker (Todd Farmer: JASON X. Also the co-writer of this flick) video recorded their booty call. She chases Frank out to his truck, threatening hellfire and damnation, and Merry Mishaps occur. Then they occur to the woman running the hotel. And that's it. The shit has hit the fan and we've got another butchering rampage in town. Things are going to hell in a gore-soaked bucket, but is the killer really Harry Warden?

If you saw the original movie, you know the answer to that question - no surprises here. If you haven't guessed who the killer really is by the mid point of this film, please go to summer school and REALLY try and get that High School diploma.

I'd like to take a moment and talk about 3D.

I believe that 3D technology can be every bit as important to the art of cinema as color, sound, and widescreen. Unfortunately, it is always used as a gimmick in some of the worst movies ever made, and always for pitching something at the camera. Even something as stupid as a freaking boom mike (AMITYVILLE 3D). Unfortunately, MBV3D follows this tired meme to only throw stuff and gore at the screen. The concept of making a movie where the audience can immerse themselves in the actual DEPTH of the scenes remains lost on the dimwits who pony up the extra dough that 3D requires. Imagine if Kubrick could have been convinced to use 3D in 2001: A Space Odyssey or THE SHINING. Imagine if Lucas had used it in the first three Star Wars movies or the first three Indiana Jones movies. Spielberg with THE DUEL, JAWS, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Ridley Scott with ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER. Zack Snyder with DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004) and 300. Not so you can crap up those movies by pointing things right at the camera, but just for the awesome visual depth that 3D can provide. Ah well.

Plusses include Brian Pearson (Masters of Horror: PICK ME UP, WHITE NOISE 2) 's wonderful cinematography, which was razor perfect. 3D glasses tend to darken the light of the movie, but though the Horrors mainly took place at night in darkened places, it was never too dark to see what was going on. His vision of the mine was suitably creepy and I wish Patrick allowed a little more time embellishing the claustrophobic atmosphere of the mines, giving the audience a real sense of how enclosed the characters are.

Another plus is the contributions of the sound department. The sound was more than deep. The speaker separation and surround sound lent a rich audible dimension to the visual 3D that really helped make this movie go down so much easier.

Finally, I really have to give kudos to composer Michael Wandmacher (THE 6TH DAY). His music set the tone for every scene and in moments where something scary and unexpected should have happened, Wandmacher's powerful orchestrations made me feel that my suspense would be hideously rewarded. Without these three particular plusses, MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D would have been worse than what it was.

There are moments when Director Lussier has fun with the script and 3D, and if this was a better movie, it would be enjoyable. But major plot holes include:
Why the hell did Harry Warden turn into a murderous psychopath in the first place?
Why is he superhuman?
Why did he go on subsequent rampages?
Why did the current murderer also go down the same path as Harry?
Why is the current murderer ALSO superhuman?
Why in the hell, when people are aware that there is a bloodthirsty murderer stalking victims in their small town, do they walk TOWARD a mysterious sound they heard in the next room? Or outside?
Why, when a cop finds a small child trapped in a house with a deranged killer, does she tell the child to "Stay right here and don't move." instead of protectively escorting that child Out of the House, Away From Danger, and to safety before continuing her search for the KILLER?
How does the murderer get beaten, punched, kicked, etc., yet, when that person isn't wearing the gas mask & miner's clothes (in this case it might as well be a costume), doesn't betray the slightest amount of blood or bruise? And how can the killer magically appear where ever it needs to be to commit the atrocities?

There was nothing stated in the movie to suggest that the killer was a supernatural entity like Michael or Jason.

I was not in a theater that attracts the kind of numbskulls who shout at the screen. Even so, there were a few times in the final act where the various plot holes widened into a single event horizon and timeline liberties were getting gang-banged. And when that happened I started hearing voices in the dark say, "Aw come on!" or simply "Pssh!". I merely found myself chuckling at the unintentional humor of one too many clichés. The well worn 1930s trope of the "Hand on the Shoulder" also makes its appearance here. As well as the done to death "Questioning Tilt" of the killer's masked head as he approaches a victim. It was original and creepy when John Carpenter did it with Michael in HALLOWEEN - 31 FREAKING YEARS AGO! It's been a mood killer ever since whether by homage or blatant rip-off.

2 Shriek Girls

Shriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2009 E.C.McMullen Jr.

EXTRA:
Where does the blame lay? Before seeing MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D, I got the chance to meet with Director Patrick Lussier and writer Todd Farmer. Patrick stated that, with MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D he hoped to do a remake that brought as much to the movie as John Carpenter's THE THING or David Cronenberg's THE FLY. Truly that is setting the bar pretty high and Todd seemed to be in agreement with him.

At one point however, Patrick loudly announced a feeling that he wanted to get off of his chest. He said to the crowd gathered there at Dark Delicacies Bookstore (Burbank, CA), "I just want to say that movies should not be made by committee!" He went on to express his contempt for the "Movie by Committee process" so passionately that I and many others in the room cheered. But what he DIDN'T say was if he felt that "Movie by Committee" ruled over his making of MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D.

For a fact, the producer of MY BLOODY VALENTINE has a track record comparable to Uwe Bolls! Jack L. Murray counts Sister Act 2 (5% - 18 Rotten Tomatoes), Waterworld (1995 nominated for 5 Razzies, 1 win), Elektra (2005 - 9% - 131 Rotten Tomatoes), Date Movie (6% - 52 Rotten Tomatoes, 2006 Razzie Award Winner), the U.S. version of THE EYE (22% - 57 Rotten Tomatoes, 2008 Razzie nomination), and PUNISHER: WAR ZONE (2008 23% - 62 Rotten Tomatoes) as the top features of his resume! EEE-Freakin' GAD! How is it that a resume like that doesn't bury someone's career?

There are directors who've been making a pretty good living in Hollywood for decades, even though they churn out one expensive flop after the next. Mick Garris and William Malone are two that come to mind. They don't often raise the money themselves like, say, Uwe Bolls (who apparently has worn out his welcome with all investors and now carny travels with the Fangoria conventions), but get hired by studios. When I've asked about this apparent contradiction (I'm of the belief that people desire a return on their investment, or at least good odds), I've been told emphatically by those who know these men directly (I've personally met and spoke to Mick on several occasions) that they are really nice guys. "And that helps in this town." to quote someone to whom I promised anonymity. Its good to know that being a nice person is so highly valued in the land of egos and assholes. Jack L. Murray might be a truly nice guy. Then again, Patrick may not have been referring to Jack or even his movie company, Lionsgate, for this picture. Yet Patrick so strongly felt the need to speak up and out against this corporate construct, that he said this at a signing for his movie. So there you have it.

So is this lackluster movie Patrick's fault? For better or worse, yes. Short of an obvious wresting of control by the producers or studio, the quality of a movie is ultimately and always the director's fault. Patrick was both the director and editor* of this film.

*Edited along with Cynthia Ludwig (SCARY MOVIE 2, REIGN OF FIRE, THE EYE [U.S.])

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TRIVIA
Over at imdb.com, analysts were surprised that MBV3D scored so highly in its opening weekend (it came in third). About 80% of its gross came from less than half of the theaters that showed the 3D version. To analysts, this suggested that people were willing to pay premium prices for a 3D movie.

WHAT PREMIUM PRICES?

So I checked around for prices and in a group of ten theaters (the first random ten theaters I found playing the movie) not one of them charged extra for the 3D version. So what are these analysts talking about? As long as the price is the same, SURE I'd rather see the 3D version!
DUH!
Feo Amante's Horror Home Page and feoamante.com are owned and copyright 1997 - 2009 by E.C.McMullen Jr.
All images and text belong to E.C.McMullen Jr. unless otherwise noted.
All fiction stories belong to their individual authors.
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