“My Bloody Valentine” continues its horror 40 years later

With various ’80s films such as Friday the 13th and Halloween, comes a film set on Valentines Day, a day of young love, chocolate-shaped hearts, and deranged killing sprees in the small town of Valentine’s Bluff.


Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Daniel Pineiro, Contributing Writer

Many years ago, a group of miners were left unsupervised on the night of the local Valentine’s Day Dance. After a mine shaft caved in, only one of the miners survived, who would later seek revenge on the townsfolk who left him there. 20 years later, it would appear that he’s back for revenge as the town bleeds their hearts out one by one.

My Bloody Valentine” (1981) is a horror/suspense film, directed by George Mihalka. It stars Paul Kelman as T.J., the film’s protagonist, who comes back to the mining town of Valentine’s Bluff, where he discovers his long time friend Axel (Neil Affleck) is now dating his ex-girlfriend Sarah (Lori Haller). T.J. starts to rile up the friend group with his never-ending pleas for Sarah to come back to him. All the while, Chief Newby (Don Francis) and Mayor Hanniger (Larry Reynolds) realize that something is amiss in the town as the body count begins to rise. 

Mayor Hanniger realizes that hosting the town’s Valentine’s Day Dance comes at a heavy cost as it would appear that the film’s antagonist, Harry Warden (Peter Cowper) is back for revenge after being left in the mine 20 years ago. 

The film achieves the very simple formula that takes place in the ’80s. We have the classic sex-filled teens, the town’s tragic backstory, and one deranged masked lunatic on the prowl for revenge. Just what any horror lover wants in their cliche-filled movie. 

While the film is set in the ‘80s, the audience is never treated to the classic poofy hair and brightly colored yoga pants that generations have come to remember the ‘80s by. We’re never treated to the traditional Americana that small towns are known to be.

Instead, the audience primarily sees the industrial side of this town where the film hammers in the fact that our cast is working-class folk who go to the local bar after work, get wasted, and repeat. Most of the film’s sequences take place at night, either in the town’s dance hall, bar, or mine shaft. 

With such a large cast, we’re unsure of who to root for. Much of the film focuses on this awkward love triangle between the three. A criticism that I’m sure many others would share is how annoying that the film’s wide cast of characters repeatedly bring up the fact that T.J. left town for reasons that are never stated. Kelman’s character, while a protagonist, feels as though he’s supposed to be a bigger antagonist than the actual villain of the film as he spends nearly every scene antagonizing Axel and Sarah’s relationship.

However, besides this minor criticism of mine, the film excels in making the rest of the characters very real outside of the needless drama. We see them crack beers and laugh with one another as though the cast were practically lifelong friends outside of the movie. All the while, it feels more traumatic seeing the body count increase as you wonder whether or not your favorite character will live. 

Throughout the film, there isn’t a moment to breathe as you will find yourself dreading what will come next for these townsfolk. Unlike most horror movies in which the audience often finds themselves rooting for the hockey-masked killer to catch up to the stereotypical clumsy cheerleader, it becomes almost disheartening to watch as these likable characters die off one by one. 

Many of the horror sequences are brutal and quick to leave viewers in shock. Some scenes are easily recognizable for horror fans as to what will happen next to certain characters with a classic horror trope line, “I’ll be back with another beer” here and there. The crew and special effects team easily accomplish their goal with its antagonist and multiple creative ways in which the victims are massacred. 

Even though “My Bloody Valentine” came out 40 years ago, it remains one of the best horror holiday lineups in history. 

Daniel Pineiro is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or @Danny_x101 on Instagram.