Drinking With The Dread: A Drunken MY BLOODY VALENTINE (2009) Date Night

The year was 2009; thick into horror’s booming remake blitzkrieg. Studios unleashed updates on Friday The 13th, Sorority Row, The Last House On The Left, and Halloween II (kinda), but for my money, these exercises in unearthed nostalgia never topped Patrick Lussier’s red-hot January kickoff: My Bloody Valentine (or My Bloody Valentine 3D). I still – to this day – remember wrangling my opening weekend movie collective, hitting My Bloody Valentine’s first Friday night showing, and having an absolute *blast* with Lionsgate’s gruesome, maniac, kitchen-sink slasher. We hooted and hollered along with most our theater audience at one of the only truly rewarding “3D” watches to come from horror’s attempt at reviving cardboard-glasses entertainment (first R-rated release in RealD technology to have a wide release in 3D-enabled theaters).

As an act of respect, this February’s Drinking With The Dread is a Valentine signed in blood and sealed with a devil’s kiss. What else would you expect from writers Zane Smith and Todd Farmer?

Within the first fifteen minutes of My Bloody Valentine, Pennsylvania’s rural mining town of Harmony is painted red with more innocent spatter than three Saw sequels. The legend of Harry Warden – the lone survivor of a devastating cave-in which then teenager Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles) is blamed for – is driven by gore and punctuated by a swinging pickaxe’s piercing point. Lussier hits upon midnight drive-in tonality that wastes no time queueing up death sequences meant to shake a sleepy blue-collar suburb, all of which are capped by brutalized Valentine’s Day accents at the hands of SFX supervisor Gary J. Tunnicliffe.

Torn out hearts delivered in bowtied chocolate boxes? Excavating tools implanted into skulls? Hallmark card messages written in sanguine bodily juices? Popcorn style slasher mayhem with an emphasis on depraved practical effects (read: damn good).

Supernatural stud Jensen Ackles chews through psychological trauma as a troubled escapee from tragedies past who’s forced home after his father’s death. Tom Hanniger intends to sell his family’s namesake mine – the pride of Harmony – which puts a target on his back. Grumpy local seniors punch him in the face at bars, past friends – Axel (Kerr Smith), now the town’s police officer – look to peg him for a new batch of copycat murders, and old flames – ex Sarah (Jaime King), now married to Axel – create love triangle mistrust. It’s all such “extra” drama as Harry Warden rises from the grave for another Harmony slaughterfest, acted straight-faced by Ackles with shifty, breakaway bemusement. Not like the pills he pops are a dead giveaway to foreshadowing…

Oh, did I mention My Bloody Valentine contains prime “gruff sheriff” Tom Atkins?

Lussier’s love-letter to Canadian exploitation daftness isn’t without hiccups. Peppered throughout is a cavalier attitude towards infidelity that’s never adequately addressed, generic red herrings, and consequential plot drivers that place Lussier’s murderous miner – head-to-toe in workman’s clothing and breathing mask – anywhere he pleases. Standard remake fodder that’s familiar in structure, faithful to George Mihalka’s original bounce-around spirit, but honest about intentions. A heavy lean into split-open chest cavities and kill after kill after kill is what My Bloody Valentine does best – no deception, full admission.

Highlight moments include but are not limited to:

  • “One Perfect Shot” of Tom Atkins looking into a hospital mirror, his facial reflection perfectly framed by a heart outline smudged in blood.
  • The entire Thunderbird Hotel sequence (Irene’s commitment to freeballin’, motel owner death, Lewis, etc.).
  • Ackles’ crazy faces.
  • So many choice pickaxe deaths.
  • “[drunk] Damn Harry Warden. Got me aiming at shadows.”
  • “Be Mine 4 Ever” crime scene (goes for it).
  • Valentine’s Day pinks and decorations dotted throughout.
  • The piercing eyes of “Harry Warden” looking through his pitch-black mask.

Time to snuggle up with your beloved and read the rules for Drinking With The Dread, My Bloody Valentine edition!

  1. Drink whenever you hear the name “Harry” or “Harry Warden.”
  2. Drink whenever you see Valentine’s Day decorations/gifts (e.g. candy heart box) or hear someone mention “Valentine’s Day.”
  3. Drink every time you see a corpse or there’s an on-screen death (only drink once for piles of bodies in one row/frame – or for each one if you’ve got a hangover death wish).
  4. Drink every time a character mentions “selling the mines” or specifically mentions the original Valentine’s Day massacre.
  5. Drink TWICE every time you see a removed human heart.
  6. Drink TWICE every time there’s an *obvious* 3D moment (you’ll spot the CGI).
  7. TAKE A SHOT when Tom Atkins mutters “Happy fuckin’ Valentine’s Day” (only a little over four minutes in – be ready).

Let’s toast, my friends, My Bloody Valentine (2009). The horror remake that features an entire sequence where actress Betsy Rue denounces societal prudeness while fleeing butt-naked from her pursuer. An equal opportunity slasher that mutilates victims from all walks of life in sensationally gruesome ways (woman with dwarfism spiked to the damn ceiling [cringe]). Patrick Lussier leaves a heap of mangled bodies in his wake as mean ol’ Mr. Miner pokes, flays, and hacks his way through Harmony, claiming responsibility for a Valentine’s Day you won’t soon forget (unless you’re hitting bottles of red wine every time the words “Harry Warden” are heard). Nothing says “I love you” like removed organ offerings!



Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter