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Monday, January 19, 2009

My Bloody Valentine

My neighbor Dora Jarr once received a Valentine from Willard Scott. She has been bragging about it since 1994, and I’ve been hating the story since about June of 1996. As a matter of fact, I’ve seriously considered yanking the damned thing out of her liver-spotted hands as she waves it around to anyone who she’s snagged in the web of her earshot and tear the cheap American Greetings™ card into a dozen pieces. Then I’d point out to her that he didn’t even care enough to send the very best. If he really loved her he’d have sent Hallmark™. The truth is Dora only got her stupid Valentine’s Day card because I sent in a note to the Today Show and told the powers that be that Dora was turning 100 on February 14th and she was madly and deeply in love with Willard Scott. I practically begged for an acknowledgement from him on her birthday. Of course, this was sheer bull puckey. Dora did have the menopausal hot flashes for the weird weatherman, but she was about 35 years shy of the centennial mark Scott requires for a shout out during his television appearances. Geez Louise, you would have thought the old goat had sent her a personal offer to spend the night at a “no-tell motel” the way Dora carries on to this day. It is enough to make a person regret they ever heard of Valentine’s Day.

You’d almost think that’s what happened with this new version of
My Bloody Valentine (not in 3D even if it is allegedly supposed to be). There’s only one thing worse than a holiday-named horror movie with a tie-in theme, and that’s a holiday-named horror movie without a tie-in theme. I mean, what’s the deal with that? In the 1981 My Bloody Valentine (without even a hint of 3D anywhere on the premises), the whole movie looked like it was filmed on a budget of less than $300 (Canadian), and at least $250 of that was spent on Valentine’s Day decorations ~ pink, red and white crepe paper, glossy red Cupid pin-ups, lacy heart doilies, that sort of thing. Director George Mihalka (Les Boys IV) was not about to let anyone forget that this no-budget epic was about VD. Valentine’s Day, that is. You’d have thought Eros himself had thrown up those little heart candies with the catchphrases printed on them everywhere.

This time around
My Bloody Valentine (not in 3D even if it is allegedly supposed to be) might just as well be taking place over Memorial Day weekend for all the big deal this version’s director, Patrick Lussier (The Eye), makes of the holiday tie-in. If not for a couple of trifling moments lifted from the original that include a human heart and a valentine’s heart-shaped candy box, you’d never even know what time of the year this story takes place. Just to make things all the more confusing, one minute it seems to be the dead of winter, then appears to be a summer’s eve, with the forest trees all in full bloom, followed by a scene with blazing autumnal colors on the same trees a blink later. Apparently the editing was less My Bloody Valentine and more Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

One thing that did impress me though was that writer Todd Farmer (The Messengers) and first-time scripter Zane Smith stayed true to the original 1981 story by Stephen Miller, even using the same character names and general storyline. Granted, they updated some things, and just so old farts like me wouldn’t get too cocky, they even switched the guilty party behind the Scooby Doo mystery of who’s really killing everybody on this tenth anniversary of the Valentine's night massacre that claimed the lives of 22 people.

Oh, just to be clear, there is no actual Scooby Doo in this motion picture. I want people to understand that because in the midst of all the Beverly Hills Chihuahuas, Marleys with or without Me, and Hotels for Dogs popping up in the cineplexes lately, someone might really expect Scooby to make an appearance, but there are no canines in My Bloody Valentine (not in 3D even if it is allegedly supposed to be) except for the town sheriff, and he’s just a dirty cheatin’ dawg named Axel Palmer (Kerr Smith; best known from tv’s “Justice” and “E-Ring” series), who ought to be beaten down by his sweet wife, Sarah (Jaime King; tv’s “Gary Unmarried”). Sarah has put up with Axel’s crap for nearly a decade, ever since she married him on the rebound once her true love, Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles; tv’s “Supernatural”), split after the original slaughter, when only he, Sarah and Axel escaped the attack of crazed miner-gone- mishuggah Harry Warden (Richard John Walters; Smart People), who went on a personal “You axed for it” vendetta against everybody he came in contact with after being caught in a mine collapse.

Now someone is dressing in Harry drag, complete with miner helmet and mask, swinging that ol’
pick-axe again just as Tom has returned to sell off his controlling interests in the mining operations to a foreign company. Somebody isn’t happy. Besides the audience, I mean. There is simply way too much plot involved for a good old-fashioned bloodletting, and I’m not sure all this “Dirty Sexy Money” stuff is of any interest to most My Bloody Valentine (not in 3D even if it is allegedly supposed to be) aficionados. I know it is just an excuse by the writers to get Tom back in town, but do we actually have to waste time while he talks about the economic impact of selling off the mine with old timer Ben Foley (Kevin Tighe; tv’s “Lost”)? The financial system in the “real world” is horrifying enough. Can’t we just enjoy some disembowelments without having to have the bejeezus scared out of us with an economics lesson while we watch a nice little slasher movie? Couldn’t they have just had Tom come back to town for a high school reunion or in search of his bastard child by the school lunch lady? Maybe it could be because he was a roadie on the Loretta Lynn concert tour playing at the local rodeo arena? Something simple, y’know.

The would be 3D special effects (which were not available at the theater where I saw the movie)
were obvious (regardless) in the 2D version, and, like most 3D films, they seemed fairly gratuitous and unnecessary to the movie itself. I saw only one instance when I really felt it would have been a “whoa!” moment to see the effect at work, and that involved a gross-out death scene featuring some flying internal “debris” that was unexpectedly tossed out at the screen. Otherwise, the movie stands on its own merits and is fine enough in its horror quotient to satisfy most audiences today. Fans of the original will probably be letdown by the lack of diversity in the ways the faux Harry dispatches his victims. The 1981 Harry-would-be deviated from using his axe and tried a variety of other ways of killing folks (my favorite: a double penetration of a couple, killing both at once with a massive power drill, making sure they really got the point about illicit sexual behavior).

After the movie I talked with some of the young-uns at the Essex Cinemas about the film, and, as usual, they made me feel as old as Methuselah, since the oldest one there was 25ish, and not one realized that My Bloody Valentine (not in 3D even if it is allegedly supposed to be) was a remake of the earlier film. Under these circumstances, how can My Bloody Valentine (not in 3D even if it is allegedly supposed to be) not succeed? It comes with no expectations, not that there were high ones to exceed from the original, except maybe in its decorating motifs. And in that single category, and that alone, My Bloody Valentine (without even a hint of 3D anywhere on the premises) does win out over the new version, but crepe paper isn’t everything. Not when Jensen Eckles is involved.

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