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Entries in My Bloody Valentine 3-D [2009] (1)

Wednesday
Jan142009

My Bloody Valentine 3-D (2009)

Coal Miner's Slaughter

This review was written for my friend Chad, the proprietor of Chateau Grrr. If you're a connoisseur of the creepy-cool, be sure to check out his site!

I caught an advanced screening of Lionsgate Films' My Bloody Valentine 3-D, a remake of the lesser-known 1980's slasher flick. With a tag-line like, “Nothing says ‘date movie’ like a 3-D ride to hell,” one might expect a bloody, campy axe-travaganza, and, for the first ten minutes, the picture delivers just that. Opening with a furious montage of newspaper clippings and voice-over, we’re plunged into a horrific incident in a small town, where a mine collapse has stranded several workers. One of the trapped men, Harry Warden, murders his co-workers with a pick-axe in order to conserve oxygen. Harry is rescued and taken to the local hospital, where he awakens from a coma and disembowels of the staff. The entire staff. Enter Sheriff Burke (Tom Atkins), the film’s World-Weary Cop. His opening line—too profane for print, but uproariously awesome—comes from a survey of the carnage, which is so over-the-top as to put Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2 to shame. Burke pursues Warden, who has suited up in a spiffy new miner’s outfit—complete with creepy head gear—and made short work of a group of teenagers partying in the mine. It is here that the movie begins to fall apart, a bad sign when it has just crept past the ten minute mark.

At the party, we meet a trio of “teenagers” (okay, maybe they’re supposed to be college-age, but they’re clearly pushing thirty), Tom, Sarah, and Axle, who are caught in a really boring love triangle. Matters get sticky when Harry Warden starts butchering their friends and Tom is left behind. Fortunately, the sheriff and his deputy show up and blast Warden to hell.

Flash forward ten years. Sarah and Axle have married. Tom has returned to town to sell the mine, following his father’s death. He’s greeted with hostility from the locals, who stand to lose everything with the mine shutting down. And wouldn’t ya know it—with Tom’s arrival comes a slew of grisly Harry-Warden-style murders. The rest of the movie plays out as a poor-man’s Scream—with every character a suspect until that character’s death, but without any of the wit, inventive kills or suspense. And that’s the biggest letdown of MBV3D: it sacrifices inventiveness for long, uninspired conversations about lost love and revenge between people who the audience would probably rather see dead anyway. Those with a certain political bent may get a kick out of the murder of a guy who bears a striking resemblance to Joe the Plumber, but otherwise these are embarrassingly pedestrian kills. Not even the sight of a fully-naked blonde girl running around for four minutes elicits much excitement, and that takes a kind of talent and dedication that would’ve better served the screenplay.

Oh, if you’re interested in the true identify of the “Harry Warden” killer, think back to the climax of Friday the 13th: The New Beginning. Yeah, I know. Ouch...

Though this review could be seen as a pan, I’m actually recommending that horror fans check out My Bloody Valentine 3-D. The three-dimensional effects work is truly stunning, beyond the de rigueur pick-axe-to-the-face thrills. The depth-of-field in the (far-too-frequent) dialogue scenes is so rich that you’ll wish all movies could be shot in this way. Speaking of the pick-axe, I’ve officially seen every single way in which someone can be murdered with one of these things. The kills become repetitive after awhile, and anyone not watching the 3-D version will likely wonder what the fuss is all about. It’s thrilling to see a man’s jaw fly past your head, but at the end of the day, I prefer nuance in my butchery.

Note: After the screening, the audience was treated to a surprise Q&A with Tom Atkins (Sheriff Burke), who provided more entertainment than the film in which he stars. Aside from the typical "What have you been up to lately?" and "What was it like to work with John Carpenter?" questions (answers: not much, and fun--though Carpenter is apparently not an "actor's director"), Atkins livened up the session with stories about the worst dates he's ever had and what it was like to meet Vincent Price in a bakery at a young, impressionable age. It was refreshing to hear an actor gush over the low-brow fare that made him famous--his favorite being Night of the Creeps--rather than writing off his genre work as something he did in order to get "legitimate" jobs. Atkins concluded his presentation by telling the audience how dissatisfied he was with MBV's ending. That's right, he actually copped to not liking the finale of the movie he was there to promote; and he was absolutely right about where director Patrick Lussier should have wrapped. He not only suggested that three minutes be chopped off, but also walked us through how the final shot could have been more effectively staged.