Butcher Block is a monthly series celebrating horror’s most extreme films and the minds behind them. Dedicated to graphic gore and splatter, we will explore the dark, the disturbed, and the depraved in horror, and the blood and guts involved. For the films that use special effects of gore as an art form, and the fans that revel in the carnage, this series is for you.
3D movies have been around in some form since 1915, with a significant revival in the ‘80s, but the early aughts marked a mainstream resurgence of the 3D format. Technological advancements meant 3D looked better than ever, and family films took full advantage. It wasn’t until 2009 that horror finally hopped on board the 3D train; just before the bubble burst on the trend, of course. Among the first? The 2009 remake of My Bloody Valentine, the first R-rated horror film to be projected on RealD 3D.
The entertaining result, of course, is a gory slasher with in-your-face kills.
This update of the 1981 slasher favorite was co-penned by Todd Farmer and Zane Smith from John Beaird’s original screenplay. Directed by Patrick Lussier (Dracula 2000, Drive Angry), My Bloody Valentine 3D goes for broke in attempting to top the kills of its predecessor, while keeping the core plot nearly the same. In both, an unchecked gas level caused an explosion in a small town’s mineshaft. Most of the workers were killed; save for Harry Warden, who went insane and murderous in the aftermath. Many years later, the town’s Valentine’s Day celebrations are painted red, literally, with the return of a killer who looks an awful lot like Harry Warden. Love triangles just got even more complicated.
The new iteration of Tom Hanniger is played by Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles, with Final Destination’s Kerr Smith as his adversary, Axel. Caught in between them is Jaime King as Sarah Mercer. Horror vet Tom Atkins plays Sheriff Jim Burke, a character who wasn’t very prominent in the initial drafts of the script but got a beefed up role once Atkins joined the cast. And more Atkins is always a good thing.
My Bloody Valentine makes excellent use of the 3D technology, arguably more so than any other 3D horror movie, with eye-popping (sometimes literally) gore and scares explicitly crafted with the format in mind. From the opening scene, this remake boasts a much higher body count. After an exposition set up for the entire plot, Harry Warden paints a hospital ward red, with eviscerated corpses left in his wake. Because the killer’s weapon of choice is a mining pickaxe, many of the on-screen deaths explore different ways it can deliver maximum carnage. Skull impalements, stabbings, ripping jaws off and flinging them in the audience’s direction; it all makes for a bloody good time. The best on-screen deaths feature a dryer and a shovel.
Lussier and Farmer (who also appears as a trucker on the receiving end of brutal karma) tend to create gory fun horror together, and special makeup effects designer Gary J. Tunnicliffe brought the gore to life for this one. Tunnicliffe is no stranger to unbridled viscera and gruesome effects; he’s the special makeup effects creator behind notable horror movies like The Collector, Feast, Hellraiser: Bloodline, and he also served as special makeup effects supervisor on Candyman.
All of which to say, My Bloody Valentine 3D makes for a fun watch this Valentine’s Day. The love triangle doesn’t quite work – this version of Axel comes across as a complete jerk – but if you’re looking for chocolate boxes stuffed with organs and blood, well, this delivers. It’s also an interesting relic of the 3D format’s past popularity, and one of the rare entries to make full use of the technology. At the very least, it’s an entertaining slasher to double feature with Scream Factory’s new collector’s edition Blu-ray release of the 1981 original.