15 Years Ago, This Gory Slasher Ushered In A New Era of 3D Horror

My Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine 3D ripped through theaters in January 2009. Fifteen years later, the 3D trend might have taken a pickaxe to the face, but My Bloody Valentine endures as the rare slasher remake that gets it right. It’s a sexy, bloody, ludicrous slasher cranked up beyond even eleven. It’s a kitchen sink of gore, boobs, bad language and bad taste. In other words, it’s great, wisely adapting the 1981 original for a new age and a new audience.

I’ve long argued that the best horror remakes spotlight unsung gems. Halloween doesn’t need to be remade because, honestly, who doesn’t know about Halloween? Aside from some notable censorship, George Mihalka’s original My Bloody Valentine is a horror film for horror fans through and through. It’s not a widely recognized classic by any means, especially among general audiences. It’s the curse of horror knowledge—me and all my horror friends have seen it, so it must be popular. While it’s difficult to resist, it just takes one sobering, “I’ve never heard of that movie before” to equalize the misunderstanding.

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Alongside Sorority Row, Mother’s Day, The Crazies, and The Town that Dreaded Sundown among infinite others, My Bloody Valentine the remake took an elusive cult classic and catapulted it into the mainstream. It’s exactly what a horror remake should do, though My Bloody Valentine didn’t stop there. Director Patrick Lussier (a regular Wes Craven editor) and writers Todd Farmer and Zane Smith imbued their iteration with plenty of grindhouse charm, matching the original’s gore quotient while delivering a sleazy 3D paradise.

Now, 3D isn’t for everyone, as evidenced by its swift introduction into the cinema sphere post-Avatar and its just as swift demise. It’s not the first decade where horror added a dimension. In the 1980s, Friday the 13th: Part III, Amityville 3-D, and Jaws 3-D were just a few of the blockbuster releases that promised splayed body parts (and doe-eyed sharks) in an entirely new dimension. It didn’t work then, and it barely worked when it was dredged back up decades later.

For starters, as someone with glasses, I could and still barely can stomach 3D. It’s disorienting, and nauseating, plus the special glasses never fit atop my regular glasses. Sure, I had plenty of pairs back in high school whose lenses I popped out to make a statement or something, but I didn’t actually like wearing them. That says nothing, of course, about accessibility on home video. Infamously, 3D televisions came and went. They were exorbitantly expensive, annoying to use, and barely functional. Plus, those glasses would cost a hundred dollars a pop. Want to watch My Bloody Valentine 3D at home with three friends? You better have 400 extra dollars.

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The failure of the third dimension as an art form doesn’t diminish the sheer spectacle Lussier and company delivered, however. There are the expected beats, a pickaxe flying toward the audience, for instance, though just as regularly, Lussier goes bold. There are 3D boobs. 3D jaws are ripped out and thrown toward the audience. Its 80s excess for a new decade, enduring remarkably well even 15 years later.

As the slasher genre has iterated over the past several years, navigating through an unhinged obsession with the 1980s before shifting to indie darlings and then to legacy sequels, there’s been a distinct sense of fun missing from it all. The homage is too overt, the trauma-riddled lore too dour to enjoy all that much. It’s why the likes of Thanksgiving (Eli Roth notwithstanding) resonated so well with audiences. It was slasher excess, through and through, an ensemble outing that emphasized style, mystery, and outrageous kills.

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My Bloody Valentine 3D has a surplus of all of the above. The kills are gnarly, beholden less to reality, and more to emphasizing just how much splatter can be fit into a single frame. It’s an homage to the original that doesn’t feel cheap, highlighting where remakes should cull from their forebears without tipping over into blatant mimicry. The mystery is endearingly ludicrous, with the killer reveal wisely changing from the original while remaining just as baffling in the best way. It doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t need to. Farmer and Smith pack My Bloody Valentine 3D full of red herrings and hidden secrets, thematically tying the excess here to the best of the late 1990s and early aughts slashers.

My Bloody Valentine 3D gratuitously distills the best of 2000s horror into one remarkable package. It’s a trim, cutthroat slasher outing that throws whatever it can, 3D or not, at the screen with the hope it will work. It does work. While the rougher edges of the original are sanded away, and the commitment to character is all but eroded entirely with soap opera antics and trysts, it’s a holiday perennial, a movie that delights time and time again. Plus, it’s the best horror remake starring a lead from Supernatural. That’s no small praise.



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