1981, Paramount Pictures

George Mihalka
John Dunning
Andre Link
Stephen Miller
John Beaird (screenplay)
Stephen Miller (story)
Rodney Gibbons
Gerald Vansier
Rit Wallis

Paul Kelman (T.J. Hannigan)
Lori Hallier (Sally)
Neil Affleck (Axel Palmer)
Keith Knight (Hollis)
Alf Humphries (Howard)
Cynthia Dale (Patty)
Helene Udy (Sylvia)
Rob Stein (John)
Tom Kovacs (Mike)
Terry Waterland (Harriet)
Carl Marotte (Dave)
Peter Cowper (The Miner/Harry Warden)
Jack Van Evera (Happy)
Don Francks (Chief Newby)

The 1981 version is what film expert Adam Rockoff described as an “original slasher” film. Where most of the slashers, such as Halloween (1978), are set in the suburbs, this Canadian-based slasher is set in the small town of Valentine Bluffs. Twenty-two years ago, a miner named Harry Warden went crazy and went on a killing spree on Valentine’s Day. His calling card? Stuffing human hearts in heart-shaped candy boxes.
Fast forward to the present. Returning to assist the local mine is T.J. Hanniger, the son of the mine’s owner, who is also the town mayor. Returning home, he has learned his girlfriend Sarah has taken up with a fellow miner, Axel Palmer. As the townsfolk decide to hold their first Valentine’s Day party since the fateful massacres, local bar owner Happy warns the young miners that Harry Warden may come back to kill if the party is held. Of course, no one believes him. However, his “prophecy” seems to come true as someone dressed like a miner has returned and began killing, using a pickaxe as a weapon. Could it be that Harry Warden has indeed returned?

When police chief Newby decides to cancel the Valentine’s Day party when people start turning up dead, the miners decide that there has to be a party on Valentine’s Day. T.J. comes up with the idea of having the party at his family’s mine. When the party starts at the local bar, the miners and their girlfriends are soon in for a terror trap as the murderous miner has returned and begun a major killing spree. As Newby learns the party has gone on, he tries to find Harry before it is too late. However, is Harry closer than everyone thinks?

From director George Mihalka, with a story by Stephen Miller and screenplay by John Beaird comes this Canadian-based horror film that has a fresh idea with its setting in a small mining town as well as mixing the horror genre with that of the dramatic “love triangle”. While most of the focus is on the murderous miner and his pickaxe, the film’s dramatic element comes in the form of a triangle between lead characters T.J., Axel, and Sarah.

When the film was originally made and ready for release, the at-time very “conservative” MPAA forced the producers to cut most of the gory effects in order to get the “R” rating. This really ticked off not only the producers, but the fans as well. However, ultimately they agreed to cut the film and the film was released in 1981. However, compared to horror films such as the Saw series and Hostel films, the gore effects here would be tame. As a result, the original uncut version finally saw its way to a U.S. DVD release in 2008 to commemorate the 2009 remake.

The gore effects really stand out for its time. Responsible for the effects are the Burman Studios team of Tom Burman and Ken Diaz. The death scenes for its time can be considered very inventive. At that time, where else would you see someone get a pickaxe through the chin and out of their eyeball or someone impaled on a shower pipe with the water from the shower shooting out of the victim’s mouth? The Burman Studios would be responsible nearly four years later for turning Michael J. Fox into the titular Teen Wolf.

The ending of the film is quite a shocking surprise and would have been the setup for a potential sequel. Sadly, there is no My Bloody Valentine 2, but a new generation of fans would not only get to see the worthy remake, but now with the Director’s Cut DVD, get a glimpse at how the “legend of the miner” all began.

Some Quick Trivia about the film: The film’s producers, John Dunning and Andre Link, would go on to create the very successful film company Lions Gate, who made the 2009 remake and served as executive producers of the remake. Actor Neil Affleck would go on to become a popular animator, working on shows like The Simpsons and directing a bunch of episodes of the popular Noggin series Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends.



2009, Lionsgate Studios

Patrick Lussier
Jack L. Murray
Todd Farmer (screenplay)
Zane Smith (screenplay)
Stephen Miller (original story)
John Beaird (original screenplay)
Brian Pearson
Cynthia Ludwig
Patrick Lussier

Jensen Ackles (Tom Hanniger)
Jaime King (Sarah Palmer)
Kerr Smith (Axel Palmer)
Betsy Rue (Irene)
Edi Gathegi (Deputy Martin)
Tom Atkins (Burke)
Kevin Tighe (Ben Foley)
Megan Boone (Megan)
Rich Walters (Harry Warden)

In January of 2009, Lionsgate released the remake of the 1981 slasher film in 3-D. While many horror classics get the remake treatment and are somewhat considered failures for the most part with some exceptions, this is definitely a worthy remake that changes the structure a little bit while paying homage to the original film.

Instead of Valentine Bluffs, the film is set in the town of Harmony, Pennsylvania. Ten years ago, miner Tom Hanniger accidentally forgot to bleed the lines and caused a major accident. The only survivor of the explosion was Harry Warden, who was revealed to have killed the other miners before getting caved-in and falling into a coma. He awakes from his coma and begins a killing spree in the hospital before going back to Hanniger Mine and makes mincemeat of a local party. When Tom’s girlfriend Sarah sees Harry kill a partygoer in front of her, Sarah gets help from local Axel Palmer and his girlfriend Irene. When Tom arrives, he is nearly killed by Harry, but is saved by Sheriff Burke.

Fast forward to the present. Sarah is married to Axel, who has become the Sheriff of Harmony. Meanwhile, Tom has returned home, leaving after the fateful incident with Harry. He has returned with the intention to sell the mine, which will affect all of the townsfolk in Harmony. When he arrives at the local hotel, Irene has been with a local trucker, who has been videotaping their “encounter”. When the trucker gets confronted, as he tries to enter his truck, he finds a miner with a pickaxe and both he and Irene are killed as well as the hotel manager. Axel has seen the calling card and the townsfolk believe that good ol’ Harry Warden is back.

With Tom returning to town as the miner, people think that the miner is going after Tom and will cut his way through anyone to get to him. Tom, still plagued by nightmares from that fateful night, sees Sarah and while learning that she has married Axel, that she still may have a “soft spot” for him. Meanwhile, Axel has a secret of his own, an affair with Sarah’s co-worker Megan, who is pregnant with Axel’s child. As the body count begins to grow, dark secrets and truths are revealed but can the townsfolk withstand the terror of the murderous killer with the pickaxe?

Under the direction of Patrick Lussier (who also co-edited the film), this is definitely a worthy remake of the 1981 original slasher film. Similarities between the original and the remake involve the setting of a small miner town and the “love triangle” subplot of sorts. However, unlike the original, instead of a group of miners and their girlfriends being killed off, it seems as if most of the victims are people who have some involvement in the original incident of ten years ago.

What makes the film somewhat a little inferior to the original is not exactly the body count or the inventive styles of death, but it falls more with the “love triangle”. In the original film, the triangle between T.J., Axel, and Sarah heavily played an important part of the overall storyline. However, here, the focus of the “love triangle” seemed to be not much of a compliment to the gore. Sarah knew where she stood when it came to Axel being her husband and despite Tom returning to town, she still loves Axel. However, Axel wasn’t so sure of his real feelings for Sarah and has an affair with her co-worker. It takes the murders and the investigation to eventually fall into place in terms of the overall result of the “love triangle”.

When Lions Gate decided to release the film in 3-D, having seen the film in both 2-D and 3-D, the 3-D truly stand out in terms of the execution of things. It is as if you got a gun tossed at you, a fireball coming your way, and a part of someone’s mouth…yes, that’s right. When the killer impales his pickaxe up through someone’s mouth, the killer pulls the chin off and it comes right at you in 3-D. It’s pretty gruesome at times, but what is a horror film without some gore now and again?

Quick trivia for the film: How do you know that the town of Harmony is in Pennsylvania? When you see the license plate on Tom’s truck in the opening of the film, you can see it is a Pennsylvania license plate.

In conclusion, while the original 1981 My Bloody Valentine (uncut version) stands out as an original slasher film, the 2009 remake is definitely one that is worthy and like its original, has a real “surprise” of a finale that has to be seen.

WFG RATING (1981 Version): A- (uncut version)
WFG RATING (2009 Version): B+