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Film / My Bloody Valentine

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"Once upon a time
On a sad Valentine
In a place known as Hanniger Mine
A legend began
Every woman and man
Would always remember the time
And those who remain
Were never the same
You could see the fear in their eyes
Once every year
As the 14th draws near
There's a hush all over the town
For the legend they say
On a Valentine's Day
Is a curse that'll live on and on"
— "The Ballad of Harry Warden"

A 1981 holiday-themed Canadian Slasher Movie directed by George Mihalka.

Twenty years ago, in the sleepy mining town of Valentine Bluffs, a methane gas explosion at Hanniger Coal Mine trapped five miners in a shaft when the foremen who were supposed to be supervising left to go to a Valentine's Day party (similar to the absentee camp counselors in Friday the 13th (1980)). Six weeks later, the accident's sole survivor, Harry Warden, was rescued; he survived by eating his dead coworkers and ultimately had gone mad. After a year in a mental institution, he escaped on Valentine's Day, killing and cutting out the heart of the guilty foremen, leaving a warning that the same would happen if the town ever again held a Valentine's Day celebration. With this nothing but a distant memory and Harry supposedly back in the institution, the town is now throwing another party. Murders of the same manner as before start cropping up, and the town sheriff (Don Francks) orders the party shut down. But the requisite bunch of none-too-bright young adults ain't happy about this and elope to host the party in secret up at the mine instead. Big mistake...

Known for having nine minutes constituting the gorier killings lopped off of it to comply with the MPAA. In 2009, the movie had a remake in 3D, named aptly: My Bloody Valentine 3D. The remake coincided with a DVD release of the original movie, which had the cut footage reincluded.

Quentin Tarantino said that this is his favorite Slasher Movie.

Not to be confused with the famous Shoegazing band of the same name who may or may not have taken their name from this movie.

The original film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The knife Axel uses to cut his own crushed arm off.
  • Artistic License – Law: In reality, Harry Warden would not have been able to wreak vengeance on the two supervisors who caused the methane explosion in the mine because they would've immediately been arrested and convicted either for gross manslaughter or negligent homicide. The film shows them remaining free and still employed by the Hanniger Mines until their unfortunate run-in with Harry's pickaxe.
  • Asshole Victim: The two supervisors whose recklessness caused the tragic mine collapse had it coming.
  • Ax-Crazy: Warden went insane after the mine collapsed and Axel went crazy after Warden murdered his father in front of him.
  • Axe Before Entering: The killer hacks through some boards at least once.
  • Big Bad: Harry Warden, the miner who went mad and cannibalized his colleagues years ago. But it's ultimately subverted at the end. Harry Warden has been dead for years and the twist reveals Axel Palmer is the true killer.
  • The Big Guy: Hollis, a big pickaxe's gotta get carried by a big man after all.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The good-natured and affectionate Axel is the real killer.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Invoked by the gas mask eyeholes, which seem to be pure black in every scene except one.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: Sylvia gets impaled on a broken shower nozzle, which the killer then turns on.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Jenny and Patty get covered in Howard's blood after a noose cuts his head off, and a young Axel got splattered in his father's blood as Harry killed him.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Hollis gets a nail shot into the temple, then right between the eyes.
  • Brain in a Jar: One is on a shelf in the morgue.
  • Breast Attack: The first victim gets a pickaxe through the back and out a breast, which has a heart tattoo on it.
  • Calling Card: Hearts in candy boxes, and threatening Valentine's Day cards.
  • Canada, Eh?: The movie was filmed in a town in Nova Scotia
  • Carry a Big Stick: Axel whacks TJ with a log after mistaking him for the killer.
  • Cassandra Truth: Happy, sorta.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Chief Newby, Mayor Hanniger and their posse reach the mine just after Axel is caught in a cave-in.
  • Chase Scene: The remaining survivors end up getting chased through the mines by the killer.
  • Closed Circle: The mine.
  • Cool Mask: The gas mask the killer wears to hide his identity.
  • The Coroner: He's perfectly fine with handling a fresh human heart with his bare hands.
    • Actually, if you look closely he's wearing very thin clear nylon gloves. You can see the edges of them just under the sleeves of the white doctor coat. It certainly LOOKS like he's handling it with his bare hands, though.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: The stabbed and immolated Mabel is listed as having died of a heart attack, so as not to panic the townspeople.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Mabel getting pickaxed and shoved into a clothes dryer.
    • Happy taking a pickaxe to the jaw, gouging one of his eyes in the process.
    • Dave being drowned in a boiling pot filled with hotdogs.
    • Sylvia getting impaled through the head by a broken pipe, which proceeds to shoot water out of her mouth.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Hollis dies looking for Mike and Harriet.
  • Cutesy Name Town: Valentine Bluffs.
  • Cut Phone Lines: The killer cuts all the phone lines in the mines before going on his rampage.
  • Dangerous Workplace: The mine, of course.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: When he was a child, Axel witnessed his father murdered at the hands of Harry Warden. The trauma stuck to him as an adult and he is later revealed to be the killer in the present.
  • Dead All Along: Harry is assumed to have escaped from the mental hospital and has started killing again. Turns out he died five years ago, still in the asylum.
  • Dead Man's Chest: The Miner hides Dave's body in the freezer.
  • Death by Mocking: Howard and Happy.
  • Down in the Dumps: TJ, Axel and the others hung out there a lot when they were younger.
  • Dramatic Drop: John, when he finds Sylvia's body.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Sarah tackles the killer and pulls off his gas mask when he comes at TJ with a knife, revealing Axel's face.
  • The '80s: Filmed between 1980-1981 and presumably when the main story is set.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The killer is seemingly crushed by a cave-in, but he cuts his arm off and escapes into the night, vowing revenge.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: Although Harry Warden is initially suspected as the records of his incarceration were lost, the disguise the killer wears can still suggest that somebody else could be using Harry's identity.
  • Evil All Along: Axel, the alleged hero of the film who leads a rescue party into the mines, turns out to have been the killer all along.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The events of the film take place over 3 days, from February 12th to February 14th (Valentines Day).
  • Eye Scream: Happy's death when he gets a pickaxe in the jaw.
  • Failed a Spot Check: While getting beer out of a fridge, John fails to notice the killer stuffed Dave's body into it.
  • Fight Scene: Between Axel and TJ, during the party.
  • Final Girl: Sarah.
  • Five-Finger Fillet: Played by Axel and Hollis.
  • Flashback: Harry's origin is shown through a series of them.
  • Flashback Cut: Used to show Axel was present when Harry killed his father.
  • Flipping the Bird: Axel gives it, after losing to Hollis in the knife game they were playing in the bar.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Note the way John lifts Sylvia up when he kisses her in the union hall early in the film. It's the exact way the Miner lifts her during her death scene.
    • Patty brags that she "may not get out alive" from the party thanks to her sexy new dress.
    • Howard pranks Sarah, Patty, and Hollis with a Jump Scare while hanging upside down and jokes that he has a hangover. A little later, when Howard forgets his blanket, Hollis grabs him and says, "Oh, come on, you'd forget your head if it wasn't tied on with rope!"
  • Freudian Excuse: Axel was traumatized as a child by witnessing Harry violently kill his father, one of the neglectful mine supervisors.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Sarah smacks Patty when she refuses to leave Hollis's body.
  • Gorn: The uncut version shows a surprising amount of gore for a small-time flick.
  • Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Only if you're watching the cut version.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Happy.
  • Harmful to Minors: Axel witnessing Harry butcher his father.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Axel haphazardly swinging his pickaxe around in an unstable area causes a collapse.
  • Hope Spot: The elevator and ladder, which would've been the way out for our victims.
  • Hooks and Crooks: Happy's body was stuck on one.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Along with Valentine's Day, there's also a chunk of the film set on Friday the 13th.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Hollis and Patty, John and Sylvia.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Happy gets mad at the TJ and co. for disrespecting Harry Warden by holding a party on the anniversary of his death. However, Happy contradicts himself when it is later shown that he plans to prank them with a fake Harry Warden puppet.
  • Hysterical Woman: Patty after Hollis's death.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Harry Warden had to resort to cannibalism in order to survive the cave-in until he was saved.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The opening scene of the film by a pickaxe stuck in the wall. There's also a deleted scene where two teens are spiked by a drill; the final product only shows the aftermath.
  • Improvised Weapon: Pickaxe, clothes dryer, shower pipe, industrial drill, nail gun, log, shovel and rock.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: While hanging from some rafters, Howard mentions he has "a hangover".
  • Ironic Nickname: Happy is anything but.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The killer sings his own version of "Daddy's Gone-A-Huntin" while stumbling off into the mine.
  • It's All About Me: Those two supervisors just had to make it on time to that Valentine Day’s dance.
  • Jack the Ripoff: Axel is using Harry's identity to kill others.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The two supervisors who caused the tragedy in the Hanniger Mines receive a pickaxe to the chest and their hearts scooped out of the open wounds.
  • Laughing Mad: The killer laughs manically in the end.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: When looking for Mike and Harriet.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: After being pinned by rubble, Axel escapes by cutting his own arm off.
  • Lingerie Scene: Right at the beginning between a worker and a lady in the mines. How she isn't freezing is a mystery.
  • Local Hangout: The Cage.
  • Love Triangle: Sarah, Axel and TJ.
  • Male Gaze: As Sarah and Patty are climbing a ladder.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The killer is always wearing a gas mask with his miner gear.
  • Menacing Stroll
  • Minecart Madness: TJ and the killer do battle on a set of moving mine carts.
  • Mirror Scare: Right before a supervisor's death in a flashback.
  • Misplaced Retribution: None of the present day victims had anything to do with the original mine collapse. Subverted when it's revealed that Harry Warden died five years prior and someone else was killing them.
  • Mr. Exposition: Happy tells the legend of Harry Warden.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: Strangely when this happens, the audience sees everything clearly despite the killer wearing a gas mask.
  • Nail 'Em: Hollis's death via a nail gun.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: Harry survived being trapped in the collapsed mine by eating the bodies of the other trapped miners.
  • Off with His Head!: Howard was actually hung, but apparently the drop was so high that the rope had enough force to decapitate him.
  • Ominous Fog
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Happy, possibly. TJ's real name (Jessie) is also only used once.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: TJ, most noticeably.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Mabel's charred body popping out a clothes dryer, Happy's body coming down with a bunch of mining uniforms, and Howard's body flying down a shaft when he's hung.
  • Playing Possum: While crossing a small bridge, Axel breaks part of the rail, screams, and throws his hat into the water, to make himself out to be a victim.
  • Police Are Useless: They don't really have any significance in the film and when they're finally called to the rescue, it's too late.
  • Powerful Pick: The killer's mining pick.
  • Pun-Based Title: My Funny Valentine.
  • Reaction Shot: When Chief Newby discovers Mabel's corpse, there's shots of him gagging and acting horrified. Patty's reactions at Hollis's death also qualify.
  • Re-Cut: The assassination of John Lennon led to a backlash against violence in the media, resulting in the film being trimmed considerably. Thankfully, a decent amount of footage survived, and was reinstated in the 2009 Special Edition.
  • Red Herring:
    • Harry Warden died five years ago.
    • Happy the bartender has a personal connection to Harry Warden as he was the first person to find Warden in the mineshaft and warns the main characters that they would be sorry for having a party on the anniversary of Warden's rampage. It turns out he was meaning to scare them off with a dummy.
    • Early on, the film establishes that TJ has been away from the town for quite some time with his return to town suspiciously coinciding with the Miner's murder spree. In addition, he is still quite jealous about his ex-girlfriend Sarah hooking up with Axel, a motive that would fit with the Valentine's Day theme. TJ also behaves rather dubiously during the later segments—he lags behind Patty and Sarah right before Axel "dies" and disappears right before the Miner stabs Patty and mysteriously leaves Sarah alone.
  • The Reveal: Axel is the killer.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Axel.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Harry killing the foremen whose negligence resulted in him being trapped in the mine.
  • Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue...: One is dead, and so are you!
  • Scream Discretion Shot: Mabel's death.
  • See You in Hell: "Hanniger! I'll be waiting in Hell for you!"
  • Sequel Hook: An injured Axel runs off into the mines, ranting to himself and vowing revenge on the entire town.
  • Shower Scene: An all-male example.
  • The Sheriff: Chief Jake Newby.
  • Shovel Strike: TJ fights the killer off with one.
  • Small Town Boredom: Why TJ left Valentine Bluffs for the West Coast. As he put it, "I fell on my ass out there", so he had to come crawling back home.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: There's a rule about no women in the mine.
  • The Stoner: Howard, judging by his hat, which prominently displays a marijuana leaf.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: How Harry got trapped in the mine.
  • This Cannot Be!: Mayor Hanniger's reaction to the first heart and note sent by the killer.
  • This Is a Drill: Mike and Harriet are found skewered by a big one.
  • Title Drop: "Sarah, be My Bloody Valentine!"
  • Title In: February 12th, 13th and 14th.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Every single person who agrees to have the party in the mine. Even if one pretended there was not a horrifying town legend about the miners who died and the crazy man who survived and murdered the irresponsible supervisors, mines are literally one of the most dangerous places on Earth. No one should ever step inside one unless they are expert miners or if they have on protective gear and are being safely led by a knowledgeable person who is familiar with the area. And they definitely should have known better not to go into the mine at night.
  • Ultimate Authority Mayor: Mayor Hanniger.
  • Unbuilt Trope: Even though this film was made when the Slasher Movie trend was gaining traction and many tropes were already being cemented into the subgenre, it features many major deviations from the formula that set it aside from its contemporaries:
    • None of the victims are teenagers, just young working class adults.
    • The film does not take place on a wealthy college campus or in an upper class suburban neighborhood, the main setting is a small grimy mining town dependent entirely on the nearby mines.
    • Two of the victims are elderly people, a rather jarring sight in an 80s slasher movie.
    • The police are actually competent and do extensive investigation into the murders, they even take measures like cancelling the Valentine's Day dance to avoid any more carnage. The only reason the body count continues to rise is because the main characters go behind their backs and have the party anyway.
    • The mythical killer Harry Warden is not some scary Implacable Man. He's a homicidal lunatic suffering from PTSD, who only went after two people he specifically blamed for the tragedy in the mines and was later promptly captured by the authorities. He died while incarcerated in a mental institution years ago. The actual killer is just a copycat.
  • Vader Breath: The heavy mining gear has this effect on the killer.
  • Valentine's Day Violence: The film is about series of murders taking in a small mining town near Valentine's Day.
  • Villain Opening Scene: The movie starts with a miner staring at a beautiful female miner stripping for him while in the mines. Then the woman is suddenly Impaled with Extreme Prejudice by the miner using his pickaxe that he embedded in a rocky wall.
  • Villain Song: "The Ballad of Harry Warden", a Gordon Lightfoot-esque folk-rock ditty sung by John McDermott which plays over the end credits.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The killer goes batshit in the end once he's been dramatically unmasked.
  • Visual Pun: Hollis's hat has the words "Kiss My" printed on it, above a picture of a donkey.
  • Vomiting Cop: Close. Upon finding Mabel's body, Chief Newby starts gagging a lot.
  • Wait Here: Said by Hollis and TJ to Patty, Sarah and Howard before they go looking for Mike and Harriet.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: TJ and Mayor Hanniger.
  • We Used to Be Friends: TJ and Axel. Sadly, the love triangle with Sarah isn't helping matters.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: So, exactly who was the woman who got killed in the opening?
  • Wild Teen Party: Older than teens, but the principle is the same.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: It's hard not to feel for Harry Warden, even if he is a murderer. He was trapped in a mine during a cave-in, and forced to resort to cannibalizing the dead bodies of his coworkers to survive. It's no wonder he slaughtered the two neglectful supervisors responsible. In fact, Harry Warden isn't even responsible for the present-day killing spree, having died in a mental institution long ago.


Video Example(s):


(WARNING: GORE) Happy's Death

The bitter bartender Happy meets his end with a pickaxe to the jaw, which also tears out his eye.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / EyeScream

Media sources: