Monday, 8 June 2009

DVD Review:My Bloody Valentine 3-D

Directed by Patrick Lussier

Starring: Jensen Ackles, Jamie King, Kerr Smith, Tom Atkins

Harmony is an American town whose economy relies on the Hanniger Mines. The owner employed his son Tom (Jensen Ackles) to the annoyance of the other workers. One night Tom screws up and a methane explosion causes a cave-in that seals several workers inside. Only one survivor, Harry Warden (Rich Walters) is found, in a coma. Harry survived by killing his fellow workers to conserve oxygen. Neat trick! His signature method was to despatch them with a pickaxe. A year later Harry wakes up and proceeds to commit mass murder in the same fashion, that culminates in him attacking some youths having a party in the mines where it all began. Harry is shot by town sheriff Burke (Tom Atkins) before he can kill Tom. Harry Warden is assumed dead when another cave in is caused, trapping him in the mine.

Ten years later the residents of Harmony have gone on with their lives. Tom returns to the town after his father has passed away, to sell the mine. Tom's childhood sweetheart Sarah (Jamie King) has married his old friend Axel (Kerr Smith), who become the town sheriff replacing the now retired Burke. Tom's not the only person to have returned. A lone figure dressed as a miner and armed with a pickaxe carries out a new killing spree that the townsfolk immediately blame Tom for. They guess that Harry Warden has returned and is out to get Tom, not caring who's in the way. Many people die in glorious 3-D before the truth is revealed.
I was never a great fan of the 80s slashers, I was more into the Argento/Fulci/Romero/Carpenter outputs. John Carpenter, of course, could be blamed for the rise in the slasher thanks to Halloween. Therefore, I always kept an eye on the genre. The director of My Bloody Valentine, Patrick Lussier, doesn't do a bad job on this even if I'm not a great fan of this particular type of horror movie. At least slashers were more fun than some horrors, if you didn't read much into them.

The main talking point, of course, is the 3-D aspect. Does it deliver the goods? I have to say that it does. It takes full advantage of the medium to fling pickaxes at us, explosions, splatter and nudity. Lussier gives us this amidst a taught screenplay by Todd Farmer and Zane Smith that happily recognises what was fun and watchable about the 80s slashers. Like the recent remake of Friday the 13th, this movie keeps the blood flowing with quite the body count. Gorehounds will not be disappointed.

Gary Tunnicliffe who created the superb monstrous effects for Feast is at the makeup FX helm, here. He does a great job and it astounded me that the movie got an R in the US and was passed seemingly uncut in the UK as an 18. Normally, this amount of gore and guts gets slightly edited for a cinema release (an unrated release in the US is the kiss of death at the box office where on DVD it's a joy to behold) and then gets a full uncut unrated release on DVD.

The cast is mainly a mix of well known and not so well known TV actors. This is not a bad thing as television shows are now competing with movies as far as quality is concerned.
Jensen Ackles takes time off from the superb show, Supernatural. Here, he is clearly trying to distance himself from the character of Dean Winchester, by changing his accent slightly. He doesn't sound quite so macho in this. Ackles gives a fine performance in this flick when he could have just coasted and picked up the cheque. Kerr Smith's Axel is sympathatic but you still want to punch him. Jamie King, who has been in Sin City does her best with her role. But, kudos has to be given to Betsy Rue as she spends all her fairly short screen time totally buck naked. That must have been a difficult shoot! Again, as she's seen fully nude I'd have expected the movie to be unrated. She reminds me of the scream queens of old, like Linnea Quigley. Lol! What a trooper! It's not like she's come from a porn background and used to this prolonged exposure on set.

Also highly memorable is the very welcome return of Tom Atkins. This guy impressed me as a young boy by nailing Jamie Lee Curtis in The Fog. He has had memorable roles in Escape From New York, Halloween III, Lethal Weapon and Night of the Creeps. He gives the production a kind of gravitas just by being on screen. When he's onscreen with Kevin Tighe (Road House) there's a little low budget movie magic going on.

So, all in all, entertaining. It's not going to appeal to serious horror movie goers who like brains writing their movie instead of being smacked out by a pick axe ;o) But there's enough going on to satisfy those who like a high body count and gory, inventive, deaths.

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