My Bloody Valentine (film)

My Bloody Valentine (film)
My Bloody Valentine

Theatrical poster
Directed by George Mihalka
Produced by John Dunning
André Link
Stephen Miller
Screenplay by John Beaird
Story by Stephen Miller
Starring Paul Kelman
Lori Hallier
Neil Affleck
Cynthia Dale
Terry Waterland
Music by Paul Zaza
Cinematography Rodney Gibbons
Editing by Gérald Vansier
Rit Wallis
Studio Secret Film Company
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) February 11, 1981 (1981-02-11) (United States)
February 13, 1981 (1981-02-13) (Canada)
Running time 90 minutes
Country Canada
Language English
Box office $5,672,031

My Bloody Valentine is a 1981 Canadian slasher film released in the wake of the popularity of the slasher genre that had overtaken the 1970s. Considered an example of the low-budget cult films reminiscent of popular slasher films such as Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980), the movie was filmed on location in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, Canada.

The movie is infamous for having had 9 minutes cut by the MPAA due to the amount of violence and gore. Though co-producer Dunning confirmed that the excised footage still existed, attempts to release it proved difficult as Paramount Pictures refused to offer an uncut version. Lionsgate subsequently secured DVD rights to the film (as well as several other Paramount features, under license) and released the uncut version on January 13, 2009 (Lionsgate soon after released the remake into theaters).



In 1960, in the sleepy mining town of Valentine Bluffs, a methane gas explosion at Hanniger Coal Mine trapped five miners in a shaft when the foremen of the crew left early to attend the town's Valentine's Day dance. Six weeks later, the sole survivor of the accident, Harry Warden, was rescued; he survived by eating his dead coworkers and ultimately went mad. After a year in a mental institution, he escaped on Valentine's Day, killing and cutting out the heart of the guilty foremen, leaving a warning that the same would happen if the town ever again held a Valentine's Day celebration.

With the legend of Harry Warden nothing but a distant memory, a group of young miners and their girlfriends decide that the town has gone without a party long enough. As the night of the dance approaches, a murderous maniac in mining gear begins dispatching townsfolk in bloody and creative ways. The town sheriff and mayor quickly deduce it must be Harry Warden, who was returned to the institution, though their attempts to confirm Warden's status are hindered. Despite the murders, the young adults continue with their plans for a dance, laughing off the "stories" of the murderous Harry Warden. Finally the night of the dance is reached and as the Miner dispatches off several partiers, a group decides to venture into the mines to explore and impress the women. Realizing that a killer is on the loose, a rescue party composed of best friends T.J. and Axel go after the others and Sarah, who both men love.

The Miner has indeed followed them into the mine, killing most of the group, and forcing T.J., Axel, Sarah and Patty to try to escape. Axel appears to be killed and Patty is murdered as well leaving only T.J. and Sarah. On the surface the Mayor and Sheriff find out that Harry Warden died 5 years ago and are preparing to lead a group of men into the mines. In the mine, the Miner attacks T.J. and Sarah on a moving rail line and the fight eventually is forced into an abandoned shaft where the integrity of the ceiling is in doubt. Sarah manages to remove the mask of the Miner to reveal the killer is in fact not Warden, but Axel. A flashback reveals that he witnessed the murder of his father, one of the foremen, by Harry Warden when he was a boy.

The ceiling then collapses, burying Axel alive. Only his arm is visible, but as rescue efforts are taken it is soon discovered that Axel has cut off his own arm to escape. Through the hole in the wall, T.J., Sarah and the police watch as the deranged and delusional Axel tells T.J. that he will be waiting in Hell for him. Axel runs deeper into the mine calling out to Harry Warden, telling him that he is coming. He warns them that he and Harry will be coming back and asks Sarah to be his "Bloody Valentine". The film ends as Axel runs deeper into the mine singing "daddy gone away harry warden made you pay" to himself. The screen fades to black and the audience can hear the sound of Harry Warden laughing, but he stops as the credits roll.


The Miner armed with his trade-mark pick-axe.
  • Paul Kelman as Tom 'T.J.' Hanniger Jr.
  • Lori Hallier as Sarah
  • Neil Affleck as Axel Palmer
  • Cynthia Dale as Patty
  • Don Francks as Chief Jake Newby
  • Keith Knight as Hollis
  • Alf Humphreys as Howard Landers
  • Jim Murchison as Tommy
  • Helene Udy as Sylvia
  • Rob Stein as John
  • Terry Waterland as Harriet
  • Carl Marotte as Dave
  • Jack Van Evera as Happy
  • Peter Cowper as The Miner & Harry Warden


Director George Mihalka, based upon the strength of his earlier movie Pick-Up Summer, was approached by Cinepix Productions, headed by André Link and John Dunning with a two movie contract. Mihalka was asked to direct a horror/slasher story, presented to Dunning by Stephen Miller in mid-1980, and, after Mihalka agreed to direct, John Beaird was bought in to write the screenplay.[1]

The film was originally entitled "The Secret", however, the producers decided to change it to "My Bloody Valentine", so to overtly reference the holiday trend with which the slasher genre was becoming increasingly popular, through films such as Black Christmas, Halloween, and Friday the 13th.

Shooting on My Bloody Valentine began in September 1980, taking place around the Princess Colliery Mine in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, which had closed in 1975. Two mines were considered for the setting, the other in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. The production company decided on the Sydney Mines location due to "the exterior [being] a dreary, cold and dusty area [with] no other buildings around it so it looked like it was totally in the middle of nowhere."[2]

Upon arrival at the town for principal photography, the crew found that the townspeople, unbeknownst to them, had redecorated the mine so to make it more presentable, thus destroying the dark atmosphere that had convinced the production company to base the film there. The cast therefore spent a few days staying in Sydney Mines, encouraged by the director to get a feel for the small-town location.

Mihalka has said since making the movie that the most difficult element of My Bloody Valentine was filming in the mines. Located 2,700 feet underground, filming in the mine was a lengthy process, as, due to limited space in the elevators, it would take an hour to assemble the cast and crew underground. Also, due to the methane levels, lighting had to be carefully planned as the amount of bulbs that could be safely utilised was limited.[3]

Lori Hallier, Paul Kelman and Neil Affleck were cast in the lead roles, and Paul Zaza, who had scored Prom Night the previous year, provided the soundtrack. Thom Kovacs, Helene Udy, Carl Marotte and Rob Stein had all appeared in Mihalka's earlier Pinball Summer.


Much has been made of the censorship issues around My Bloody Valentine. For the MPAA to award the movie with an R-rating, cuts were requested to every death sequence in the movie. Even after cutting the movie to match the requirements made by the MPAA, the film was returned with an X-rating and more cuts were demanded. Stills of the trimmed footage were published in Fangoria magazine whilst the movie was still in production, even though the sequences were excised in the theatrical version; it was only on January 13, 2009 that the film was finally released for the first time ever with the cut footage reinstated.

There are two reasons that are frequently attributed to the extreme cutting of the film. It has been suggested that Paramount Pictures was keen to remove the offending footage due to the backlash they had received from releasing Friday the 13th the previous year - as a side note, Paramount's Friday the 13th Part 2, which premiered a couple of months after My Bloody Valentine, also suffered extensive cutting, which has never been released.

The second reason, that Mihalka attributes, is that the movie was cut due to the murder of John Lennon in December 1980, stating that there was a major backlash against movie violence in wake of his death.[4]

The 2009 DVD reinstates around two and a half minutes of footage back into the movie, which contradicts an earlier claim by director Mihalka that the film had been trimmed by 8–9 minutes. It has been argued that the so-called uncut DVD still has some sequences missing, particularly the double-impalement of Mike and Harriet which the director recalls filming. It is thought that the remaining footage appears to be composed of expository scenes, such as dialogue and other non-violence related material. This is given credence by the fact that Mihalka gave his seal of approval to this release, and a written introduction by him precedes the beginning of the special edition DVD, stating that this version was the way that the film was meant to be seen.

The pay-cable service ON-TV is believed to have shown the entire uncut version in 1982, the only time it was seen publicly until 2009.


Critical reception

The movie grossed $6,000,000 at the US box office upon its theatrical release on February 11, 1981. The movie has a large cult following, and fans of the horror genre now consider it a classic. Critically, My Bloody Valentine received mixed reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes it stands with a 33% critics' rating with an average rating of 4.4/10.[5] The film holds a 51 out of 100 on Metacritic, indicating "Mixed or average reviews".[6]

In a March 30, 2007 issue of Entertainment Weekly, the film was ranked 17 in a list of guilty pleasures, listed among such films as Dawn of the Dead and Escape from New York, and called "the most criminally underappreciated of the slasher genre." Popular filmmaker Quentin Tarantino calls it his all-time favorite slasher film.[7]

Home media releases

My Bloody Valentine was released to both videotape and laserdisc in the 1980s. In the United Kingdom, the original pre-certificate video release contained an extra four seconds in the sequence where the killer escapes by cutting off his arm; however, the 1989 release was identical to the R-rated version. Rumours were rife that the film had been issued uncut in the East Asian market, most notably Japan, however director Mihalka denies the possibility of this.

With the advent of DVD, My Bloody Valentine has been released three times. The original disc is a bare-bones release without any additional features. This same disc was re-issued as a DVD double bill with April Fool's Day in March 2008. Both discs were supplied by Paramount. The third and most recent DVD release was issued on January 13, 2009, the same week as the remake was released in theatres. This version integrates the cut footage back into the film and features two featurettes and optional introductory sequences to the previously missing murder sequences. Two featurettes are also included. Director Mihalka, cast members Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Helene Udy and Carl Marotte, composer Paul Zaza and make-up artists Thomas Burman and Ken Diaz are all involved.

Pop culture

Irish shoegaze band My Bloody Valentine gets its name from the film.[8] The pop-punk band Good Charlotte has a song of the same title.


External links

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