il giorno di san valentino - my bloody valentine

My Bloody Valentine, directed by George Mihalka, is a slasher genre movie set on the day of the popular celebration of love that is Valentine’s Day. That is why we chose today to talk about it for our Steps in The Dark collection, even though, as we already said, it is much more of a splatter movie than it is a horror, but it can definitely serve to stay on the topic of the current Valentine celebrations.

My Bloody Valentine – Premise

my bloody valentineTwenty years before the events of the main story, on Valentine’s Day, a tragic accident kills five miners, caused by the absence of their supervisors who left their post to celebrate. A year later, the only survivor of the tragedy goes looking for a gruesome vengeance.

Review

My Bloody Valentine can’t exactly boast a complex plot, even when considering its genre of choice. It was, after all, conceived as a low-budget movie that nevertheless managed to repay its cost at the box office.

A small mining town is getting ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day after more than twenty years of avoiding the holiday due to a terrible accident at the local mines that took the lives of some of the workers. The following year, the only survivor of the accident stains his hands with violent murders, promising to come back every time anyone tries to celebrate Valentine’s Day again.

Twenty years seem like enough time for the grim news story to turn into myth and to stop affecting the lives of the citizens of the town and what is, by all means and purposes, a whole new generation of residents. But as soon as a party is orchestrated, the murders start up again. Coincidence? It seems very unlikely.

Toxic masculinity

Il giorno di San Valentino (1981) Neil Affleck, Gina Dick, Paul Kelman, Jim Murchison, and Rob Stein in My Bloody Valentine (1981)
Neil Affleck, Gina Dick, Paul Kelman, Jim Murchison, and Rob Stein in My Bloody Valentine (1981)© IMDb

My Bloody Valentine is a fairly old movie and as such, it has all the problems of its generation. One especially evident demonstration of that is the behaviour of its male protagonists who seem to be in perpetual competition with each other. The main female character, even when manifesting her personal feelings and desires, remains the symbol of a trophy for which the forementioned protagonists have to fight each other. And all of this without any precise or exact rules.

This competitive relationship is to be found in T.J. and Axel, both interested in poor Sarah who, on her part, isn’t even remotely consulted about her position between the two: the ex who abandoned the town years prior and her with it (even though he now wants her back), and the current boyfriend with a far from easy-going personality. The two face and challenge each other often throughout the movie, and use any chance they get to fight each other.

Cynthia Dale, Lori Hallier, and Keith Knight in My Bloody Valentine (1981)
Cynthia Dale, Lori Hallier, and Keith Knight in My Bloody Valentine (1981) © IMDb

Truth is, as we later find out, Axel has some problems of his own to deal with, not that it’s enough to justify his behaviour. After all, neither male protagonist would be appreciated in today’s cinematic landscape.

Censorship and cuts

Just like many other movies of the same genre and from the same decade, My Bloody Valentine too had to go through the tough judgement of censorship. Some of the scenes were, at the time, considered too bloody and violent for the audience and were therefore erased so that the movie would be less disturbing. Today this particular issue wouldn’t be as pressing as back then, we’ve gotten used to far more realistic and advanced visual effects, but it’s always kind of sad to see any kind of cinematographic work, for a reason or another, be changed and refitted without allowing the viewers to see it in its intended shape and entirety.

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