My Bloody Valentine

Starring: Paul Kelman, Lori Hellier and Neil Affleck
Paramount Home Entertainment
RRP: 15.99
Certificate: 15
Available now

A group of young miners and their dates look forward to their little town's Valentine dance. Twenty years before, two supervisors neglected their duty, leaving early to attend the dance. An explosion caused a cave-in and a handful of men were trapped. Five days of digging uncovered one survivor. Turned insane by his ordeal, Harry Malden sought his revenge by attacking those responsible with a pickaxe. Now, two decades later, his calling card of placing a victim's heart in a heart-shaped chocolate box is being repeated. Fearing Malden has returned from the asylum, the mayor cancels the Valentine dance; however, the youngsters decide to plan a party of their own and then explore the mine. Bring on the mayhem...

Clearly, a follower of the Friday The 13th movies decided to emulate the format here. All of the elements are in place. We have the teenage kids, ripe for the slaughter, participating in drinking, smoking illegal substances and gratuitous sex (outrageous!). There is a crazy old man, this time in the form of a bartender, warning them of their folly. Yet another theme-masked killer makes an appearance (more of that in a moment). All of the classic lines and moments are rehashed so that nothing comes as a surprise (we all know by now that if someone says, "I'll be right back." they will be the next to be gruesomely dispatched). There's even a cry wolf practical joker. Oh, and not forgetting the copied head in the fridge moment.

Nevertheless, even following a tried and tested formula this closely, there is something intrinsically third-rate about this movie. There's neither the attempt to play it straight, or the spoofing of the genre; instead it falls somewhere between the two, with no real conviction from the actors or indeed the script. The dialogue has the feeling of being somewhat forced, and I wouldn't be surprised if many of the spoken lines were ad-libbed. In crowd scenes, such as the illicit party, background conversations are not carefully scripted out as should be, but rather are spontaneous incoherent and unrealistic mutterings.

The killer, resplendent in rubber miner's suit and full darkened face-plate gas mask with twin pipes, has audible breath which immediately makes you connect with Darth Vader ("Give in to the dark side. I am your miner!"). And talking of which: Why do so many film treatments feel an obligation to blame everything on the father? The pickaxe-weilding maniac, briefly unmasked at the film's end, suffers a flashback to his childhood, when he witnessed his father being killed at the hands of Harry Walden. This explanation is shoehorned into a scene lasting no more than ten seconds.

My Bloody Valentine does have its merits, and they are the faults which I've addressed above. Being so familiar with the slasher movie formats, it makes for some wry moments watching this attempted emulation of a popular classic. This is how you would expect a Lenny Henry Show or French and Saunders sketch to run. You could adapt the Star Wars drinking game to this, tipping one down your throat every time a Friday moment is copied. You would be drunk as a skunk by the end. So, not a totally wasted experience then.

Ty Power

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