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MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D (2009) ***1/2 review by COOP

Posted on January 21st, 2009
Posted on January 21st, 2009


3-D cinema has roots that go all the way back to 1890 when film pioneers conceived the most primitive form of the process. Its heyday ranged from 1952-1955 when musicals, westerns, sci-fi and horror movies used the gimmick as a box office draw. Soon after, Hollywood largely abandoned the technique due to the tremendously difficult technical issues that arose from both shooting and projecting 3-D films. After a few short revivals in the 70’s and 80’s, 3-D returns to mainstream cinemas with “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” leading off what could be the start of a new era of filmmaking.

Cribbing from the original “My Bloody Valentine” released in 1981, this remake takes place in a Pennsylvania mining town where a traumatized mining accident victim, Harry Warden, goes on a bloody St. Valentines Day rampage with a pickaxe. Tom (Jensen Ackles), a survivor of the massacre, returns to the town on the 10th anniversary of the incident to finalize the selling of the mine. Upon his arrival, the pickaxe murders begin again. Tom vows to protect his former flame, Sarah (Jamie King) from the slasher who nearly killed her years before. Sarah’s unpleasant husband, Sheriff Axel Palmer (Kerr Smith), is convinced Tom is the killer and attempts to hunt him down as the body count continues to rise.

The filmmakers make use of most of the elements from the original “Bloody Valentine,” but they’ve tuned it to fit a quicker pace. The scary Harry Warden back story gets shown this time instead of alluded to in whispers. The killer miner with a pickaxe gets more screen time and still packs the same frightening punch as he did nearly three decades ago. I have two big complaints about the plot: 1. They managed to work in that tired, old cliché featuring a confused girl holding a gun and two guys pointing at each other, both saying, “No, shoot him!” 2. The original “Bloody Valentine” had one of the creepiest endings in slasher film history, complete with a scary folk song about the murders sung over an acoustic guitar riff. The remake’s bland twist ending almost ruined the moment. As an antidote, do yourself a favor… Keep watching the credit sequence until the very end. The final screen image will halfway make up for the weaker ending.

Tom Atkins gives the only performance of note as the sheriff during the first massacre. As a staple of 80’s horror films like “The Fog,” “Halloween III” and “Night of the Creeps,” it’s great to see him working again, and he looks like he hasn’t aged a day in thirty years. All of the other actors get by on their Abercrombie looks and nude scenes.

Forget about the predictably bad performances, cheesy plot and nonexistent logic. We’re talking about 3-D here. Audiences come to watch the visual gags (e.g. a pickaxe flying at their faces). It’s bombastic, unapologetic, raunchy, gory fun. It speeds along at a tight pace and never goes without a murder or an attack for more than five minutes. Sure, you get all of the usual 3-D horror standards, like a tree branch going through a car window towards your face or the killer jumping out and reaching for you. It also has some original effects, like spotlights that appear to shine out into the audience and point of view shots that show attacks from both the victim and the killer’s perspective.

Alas, for the viewer, 3-D hasn’t changed that much since I saw “Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone 3-D,” back in 1983. The glasses are heavier and more uncomfortable than ever. You have to angle your head just right so the thick rims don’t block the edges of the screen. Peripheral motion still looks blurry and focusing on the fuzzy action in the foreground, background or the edges will give you a headache. Plus, anyone with a loss of vision in one eye will miss out on the experience entirely.

Fortunately for Hollywood, the process is now less of a hassle to shoot and project (and it’s also an effective anti-piracy tool). The biggest drawback is the theater must upgrade its equipment with a new type of digital projector, something many theaters can’t afford. Nevertheless, studios and the upper echelons of Hollywood have made the decision to dump all their resources into this new 3-D process. DreamWorks Animation and Director/Producer James Cameron both claim they will only make 3-D films from now on. You can bet Hollywood will be watching the financial progress of “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” with great interest.

One final warning to the viewer: ONLY see this movie in 3-D. Call the theater; check your local listings; do whatever you have to do to make sure you’re seeing “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” in actual 3-D. Most people won’t realize it’s also being released in a 2-D format for theaters that don’t have the required digital projector. It’s good, scary fun… but without the 3-D effect, my rating for the film would most certainly drop a star or two.

Rating: 3 and ½ out of 5 stars

Trailer for the original below…

Now the 3-D remake…

-The Small Town Critic

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