Tuesday, January 27, 2009


“Dracula 2000” director Patrick Lussier has taken a few liberties with the low-budgeted 1981 Canadian slasher saga “My Bloody Valentine.” Nevertheless, he has retained most of the cliches and conventions of that largely predictable bloodbath and presented them with new vigor in his visually stunning 3-D remake. Eyeballs pop out at you in this state-of-the-art 3-D account, and the villain’s predatory pickaxe plunges through the screen repeatedly to keep you perched on the edge of your seat. Bodies spout blood frequently and various severed body parts fly in your face. A tree branch smashes through the windshield of a vehicle as it careens into it, and it rams through the interior, shattering the rear window, and sticking out straight in your face as the vehicle halts. Clearly, “My Bloody Valentine” will gratify gorehounds, while the squeamish will huddle in abject horror. Mind you, Lussier’s movie is the first R-rated, 3-D slasher in the latest 3-D craze that has hit theatres since 2008. No comparison exists between “My Bloody Valentine in 3-D” and 1982’s “Friday the 13th Part III” in 3-D. This hair-raising hokum looks great even when the axe isn’t altering somebody’s anatomy. “Supernatural” star Jensen Ackles and “Dawson’s Creek” star Kerr Smith vie for Jamie King while veteran character actors like Tom Atkins from “Creepshow” and Kevin Tighe of TV’s “Emergency” flesh out the fringes.

The new “My Bloody Valentine” (***1/2 out of ****) qualifies as a three-star chiller with riveting four-star 3-D special effects. Lussier and scenarists Todd Farmer & Zane Smith have integrated the “Fight Club” sight gag skillfully enough to keep you guessing about the psycho’s identity. Costume plays an integral part in this mayhem. The maniac dons a miner’s outfit, with its anonymous gas mask, goggles, coveralls, gauntlets, boots, and wields a pickaxe with devastating dexterity. You cannot tell who he is and the sound of his breathing strikes terror in the hearts of his victims. Watching this ominous exercise in calculating carnage in its flat, 2-D format is a complete waste of time and money. The only way to watch “My Bloody Valentine” is in 3-D! Lussier spares nothing in his ramped-up remake that features an entire sequence of gratuitous but hilarious nudity as a woman tries to dodge a pickaxe behind the box springs of a bed. A scene in a hospital features more chopped-up corpses than you want to count. You get to feast your eyes on two eviscerated corpses with their torsos cracked open like a slaughtered steers so you can ogle their spines. The original “My Bloody Valentine” combined elements of John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and Sean Cunningham’s “Friday the 13th, but that original independent Canadian horror chiller didn’t coin enough bucks for Paramount Picture to launch a franchise. Lussier’s lurid rehash, however, lets the psycho survive with a “Silence of the Lambs” gag, so a sequel is inevitable. Metaphorically, evil never dies!

The action unfolds in the small mining town of Harmony, Pennsylvania. Lussier relies on a melodramatic montage of banner newspaper headlines to clue us in on the disaster at the Hanniger mine. Young Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles), the local mine owner’s son, made a terrible mistake ten years ago that left five men dead and one in a coma. Sole survivor Harry Warden (Rick Walters) awakens from a year-long coma on Valentine’s Day and embarks on a bloody rampage at the local hospital. Harry suits up in miner’s garb and hacks his way through 22 people, before Sheriff Burke (Tom Atkins) and his deputy fill him with lead. Before Harry dies, the fiend drenches young Hanniger’s face with gore galore. Traumatized by the experience, Hanniger hightails it out of Harmony, abandoning his sexy sweetheart Sarah (Jamie King of “The Spirit”), and heads off to parts unknown. Meanwhile, Hanniger’s best friend, Axel Palmer (Kerr Smith), becomes Harmony’s sheriff and marries Sarah. The death of his father prompts Hanniger to return to Harmony ten years later to sell the mine. Since the mine represents the life blood of the town, nobody is happy to see him. Predictably, horrible things begin to happen. Naturally, Axel suspects Hanniger is the guilty party, but most of the citizens insist that Harry Warden has risen from the grave.

Lussier, who not only helmed “My Bloody Valentine” but also co-edited it, is a protégé of horror master Wes Craven, best known for his “Scream” trilogy. Clearly, Lussier has his head and heart in the right place for this slice of savagery. Lussier doesn’t squander a moment in his concise 101 minute massacre and the climactic showdown in the mine between Axel and Tom with Sarah debating who to shoot generates some suspenseful humor. Unfortunately, despite all his sleight of hand, anybody with a brain will know the identity of the villain. The big difference between this “Bloody Valentine” and its predecessor is that the villain doesn’t just stalk lusty teenagers. Anybody of any age—including a poor midget--is fair game. The big difference between the remake and the original is that in the original, the killer threatened to return to Harmony if the town celebrated Valentine’s Day with a dance. The new “Bloody Valentine” doesn’t have a dance. Lussier’s ending surpasses the original and the film has a couple of exciting scenes, particularly when our heroine and another girl find themselves trapped in a grocery store.

You couldn’t axe for a better 3-D slasher than “My Bloody Valentine.”

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