Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Bloody Good Valentine

In the age of remakes, sequels and 3D conversion it’s hard to find a movie that fits into both of these categories. 3D sequels always seem to suck. 3D remakes always seem to be worse than 3D sequels but is it possible for a champion to rise out from the ashes? I’m willing to admit that I am very hard on remakes, sequels and 3D movies but even I… while in the beginning of this trend, managed to find a movie that is not only 3D but also a remake that I enjoyed. It wasn’t intelligently written or packed with mind-blowing performances but rather a fun movie to watch. That movie is the remake of 1981’s My Bloody Valentine. The original couldn’t have been done better but I was so skeptical about the remake that I walked in knowing that it would suck. I walked out with a big grin on my face. Even after watching the original and remake side-by-side, trying to force myself to hate the remake, I still managed to like but why? I underwent an experiment to try to dissect why I love this remake so much and why it’s a step up above ‘popcorn’ status.

One of the biggest changes from both the original and standard remake conventions is the fact that the characters are not a bunch of sex-driven, idiotic teenagers. In the original the characters seemed to be young adults who are just having a good time, which was fine because it felt like a teen drama rather than a slasher. It went against what slashers were about but nowadays remakes take that formula and crank the knob on it. Now, all slashers involve teens that have sex, take drugs or drink alcohol. In fact, as many horror community members have pointed out, we want to see them get killed because they are annoying and have ‘false Hollywood’ morals. My Bloody Valentine 3D passes all of this up by making the characters more mature. They aren’t just teens drinking and having sex but rather adults that have families and inheritance to look after. It’s something that I never saw in a remake before. Tom Hanniger is about to sell of his dad’s mine and is tasked with deciding whether or not he’s right or wrong. Axel Palmer is having an affair with his wife, whom he had a child with. All these situations are adult-themed and go against the typical “my boyfriend was caught cheating with the school slut” theme.

Speaking of adults and adult situations, there is another reason why I felt this was a superior remake than most. Consider the ‘final girl.’ Why do I feel more remorse for her than any other teen girl in any given slasher movie? Well, she isn’t an idiot, she doesn’t stand there and scream all the time, she has morals, she doesn’t smoke or drink and she isn’t ‘fake.’ In fact, she has something to live for. She has a family, a husband, a child and life that she is defending from a maniac and that’s why I feel more endeared towards her. If we look at the girl that Palmer is cheating on, SHE is the typical ‘final girl’ that you’d find in most remakes and look what happens… she gets killed halfway into the movie. Perhaps the creators were trying to say something about how they feel about modern day heroines. It’s these things; these situations that the characters unwillingly get themselves into that make me feel sorry for them. It’s not their fault

The one thing that I hate about slasher remakes is that they are always flashy and what I mean by that is this: the quality of the picture looks as if the editors brought up all the reds, yellows and whites but also made the movie with glossy, goo-goo gaga, teen hotties. In the remake to Sorority Row all the girls were attractive eye candy who didn’t have brains. The picture also seemed like it was heavily color corrected to look like a damn Maxim photo. In My Bloody Valentine 3D they color corrected it to look dark, grim and gloomy. They made the tone of the picture match the atmosphere of the film and it was shocking. The grays, the blacks and the staleness fit with the ideology of a dying American Icon known as Main Street USA. I’m sure for most guys and girls the characters were attractive and I guess they would have to be but neither of them were dolled up and if they were… THEY HAD BRAINS! I was so relieved to find this movie clean of any flash. There wasn’t even a smudge of gloss.

One of my main standpoints on why remakes are terrible is because they don’t seem to try anything different and when they do they change it to the point where it’s not even the same movie. They just want to bank off the name. Nightmare on Elm Street was exactly the same as the original; nothing was that different or that special about it. Texas Chainsaw Massacre was different but too different, they could have made it into a different movie with a different title. King Kong was different but it kept to the original and expanded on the love between Kong and the actress. My Bloody Valentine is way different from the original because the stories are swapped and jumbled up into something new and fresh. However, they still have tributes to the original such as the drying machine kill or the dozens of minor outfits falling from the hangers in the warehouse. By doing this, you are literally doing what a REMAKE is; you’re using the same concept, story and idea of the original but molding it into something different. Look at some of the other great remake and compare them to the original. Vastly different but refreshing at the same time.

But perhaps the most refreshing thing about this movie, and this is something that earns it brownie points, was the casting of veteran actors Tom Atkins and Kevin Tighe. It doesn’t really matter because even remakes have great actors but to have Tom Atkins play an aging tough guy was a great treat to horror fans. You can’t have a good cult classic without Atkins and he went out the way we would want him… having his jaw ripped off from his skull. Kevin Tighe, however, was to please us obscure horror fans that would probably only know him for his roles in Rose Red or on an episode of Tales from the Crypt. These roles gave us something to admire because it’s been so long since we’ve seen either of them in something that was wide-release. If we take remakes like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Piranha, Nightmare on Elm, Halloween or Friday the 13th… they have ‘veteran’ actors but they’re still around. Other than My Bloody Valentine, what was the last horror movie Tighe or Atkins was in?

Another brownie point that this film has because I could have cared less whether or not they chose to do so or not was the addition of 3D. Every movie is coming out in 3D and My Bloody Valentine was one of the first, in many, movies that was unnecessarily transferred to 3D. Back then, and even now, every movie I watch in 3D hurts my eyes and I was anticipating this movie to do the same. Not only did I walk out with a big grin but also I wasn’t rubbing my eyes or head. Somehow, this movie managed to make my eyes not bleed. It’s one of two movies that did this the other was Beowulf.

Sure My Bloody Valentine won’t become as great as some of the other remakes but it became, at least to me, a symbol that there are people out there that know how to make good remakes. I’m still cynical and bitter because the chances of another MBV are slim (look at Piranha 3D) but it can happen. I was pleasantly shocked to the point where it’s hard for me to choose which movie is better because they both stand for something. The original addressed the issue of a fading Small Town USA but the remake took that issue and put it into a modern perspective about a collapsing economy where people are being fired left and right. It’s a gamble that I am not willing to take on seeing another MBV 3D but till another one surfaces, I’ll be just find with the two that I own.


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