Yesterday saw the release of a special edition DVD of the 1981 slasher favorite MY BLOODY VALENTINE. Included on the disc are two versions of the film, the theatrical release you know and love and an unedited version complete with bloody graphic scenes that were previously edited out. My first encounter with VALENTINE was in the pages of FAMOUS MONSTERS magazine around the time of its initial release. The impressive stills I first viewed had me jumping at the bit as I waited in anticipation for its release. Not being of age to see R-rated movies in the theater quite yet, I was doomed to wait for its VHS release to finally catch up with it. As impressed with the movie as I was at the time, I do remember being equally disappointed that several scenes that I had spied in FAMOUS MONSTERS were nowhere to be found. It turned out that the original cut of the film had received an X-rating due to a strong anti-violence backlash that was sweeping through the M.P.A.A. at the time. For years (nearly three decades) I had dreamt of getting to see this underrated gem in its full gory glory and yesterday those dreams came true.
As far as I’m concerned, this is the horror DVD release of the year bar none. I might be an obsessive fanatic but I know what I like. In some ways MY BLOODY VALENTINE perfectly epitomizes the slasher trends popular at the time, but no matter how faithfully it might follow the trail of those then current trends it has a spirit and an atmosphere unquestionably its own. Taking on romantic situations where nobody wins and focusing on dead end jobs in a town whose best days are in the rearview mirror, M.B.V., when compared to many of its peers, comes off as sullenly thoughtful. There are some glimpses of levity but the constant cold, gray sky most definitely has the final word. Harry Warden, the legendary killer who haunts the town of Valentine’s Bluff might be a maniac, but he’s a rather tragic figure too. In a way I think Harry has a right to be disgruntled considering all that he has endured due to his crappy job. Maybe he’s correct in pointing out to the rest of the going nowhere locals that they have absolutely no reason to be throwing parties. (Of course one should find more productive ways of expressing oneself than with a pickaxe.)
The vicious mayhem revealed in the extended cut is pretty damn amazing. Not only is it a lot of fun for fans of gore, but the added bits help the movie move forward in a way that makes more sense. Some of the scenes were rendered so choppy in the theatrical release that it obscured important elements and, thankfully, that is no longer an issue. A couple of these kills, merely serviceable before, I would now count among the best in slasher history. The film quality of some of the reinserted scenes is less than pristine, but frankly, to me, that is like complaining about ED McMAHON‘s penmanship on a Publisher’s Clearing House check.
There is no question in my mind that if this version were the one to have been released in 1981, MY BLOODY VALENTINE would be called simply a classic rather than a “cult” classic by now. I plan to be first in line to see the 3-D remake on opening day. Honestly I would be there anyway, but at this point I’d also just like to thank LIONSGATE with my hardly earned cash for making this special edition DVD possible. Rather than simply robbing this classic of its title and dumping a mall turd into theaters, they went that extra mile and did genre fan’s a real solid. No matter the quality of Harry’s new incarnation I gotta give thanks to LIONSGATE for having such heart. I don’t care how many times you have seen this movie before, if you have not seen the special edition get thee to Amazon at once. Until you have witnessed the infamous shower head scene in all its brutality, you have not yet met the real Harry Warden.