There are certain films that you just have to watch at certain times of year, and when February rolls around, for me that means My Bloody Valentine.

To be honest, I do not have a problem with the 2009 remake – I found it entertaining enough and it made pretty good use of its 3D gimmick.

But for the real deal you simply have to go back to the 1981 original, a taut, entertaining and at times pretty dark (both literally and figuratively) offering.

The set-up is nothing new when it comes to the slasher genre that flooded the market in the early 80s – a bloody crime that happened in the distant past (check), an anniversary of that said incident about to be celebrated (check) and a bunch of knife-fodder looking to party (check).

But My Bloody Valentine does put a slight spin on things by having the action, and killings, take place in an urban location, rather than some isolated summer camp.

The setting is the Canadian town of Valentine Bluffs, a mining locality where, years ago, an accident caused a shaft collapse that trapped a bunch of miners.

These miners could probably have been saved, only for the supposed security detail to have decided to ditch their post and head to a Valentine’s party.

Only one miner eventually survives, Harry Warden, and quite naturally he is pretty pissed at the other miners and the town for failing him.

A few pickaxe murders later and old Harry is carted off to the insane asylum, and that would appear to be that.

But, 20 years later, the town decides to throw its first Valentine’s Day bash since the tragedy and, wouldn’t you know, the bodies start to pile up once more.

Could it be that Harry has returned to wreak more revenge on the locals? Or could a canny imposter be following in his footsteps?

Well, that would be telling, although you do not have to stretch the grey matter too much to figure it out.

There are times when MBV does stray dangerously close to cliché, most notably with a ‘Crazy Ralph’ type character who insists on telling everyone that they are doomed (in this case it is a bartender).

But there is so much that George Mihalka’s film does right that it can very easily be forgiven.

For starters, the locations are great – the town has a subdued look about it, and the sequences in and around the mines are excellent – all swirling mist, imposing tunnels and dimly-lit corners.

The cast are more than adequate for the material, most notably Paul Kelman and Neil Affleck as love rivals Jessie and Axel, and what helps things tremendously is that this is not your run-of-the-mill bunch of sex-starved, annoying teenagers we are talking about, but a group of adult miners.

The killer himself is also a memorable creation, with a boiler suit, helmet with flashlight and wielding a pickaxe – in fact I would place ‘Harry Warden’ very near the top of my list of favourite horror villains.

The deaths are inventive, most notably an excellent sequence in a wash room, and if you pick up the special edition DVD that popped up a few years back you get some juicy gore that was trimmed by the censors on its original release.

Pretty much everything about MBV gets a thumbs up from me – even one of the film’s taglines (‘There’s more than one way to lose your heart’) makes me chuckle, and no doubt I will happily sit through it all again come February 2018.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.