Friday, February 20, 2009

My Bloody Valentine / F13 Uncut Double Review Part I: Canucks Run Amok

Alright, I'll admit it. As a horror movie fan I've missed some essential films over the years. Maybe it was because I wasted so many years seeking out the most abysmal B-movies to rent from Ted's Video (3 Vhs, 3 Days, 5 Dollars!). Spending all my time watching crap I guess eventually I was bound to skip over some classics.

So yes, up until recently I had never seen the Canadian cult classic My Bloody Valentine, or the original Friday the 13th. I have seen many of the sequels but not the one that got the whole franchise going (going.. and going..). With the release of both movies UNCUT for the first time ever on DVD, I decided the time was right to finally check them off my list.

Today I'll start with My Bloody Valentine. Trashed by critics upon release, MBV slowly gained a cult status over the years. The MPAA did some slashing of their own upon release as well, cutting nine minutes off the running time, drastically reducing the amount of blood-shed seen in the final theatrical version. Needless to say this movie has been hyped beyond belief, and as a Canadian, I hoped not to be disappointed.

And I wasn't! MBV is like the little slasher that could. Upon first glance there might not seem to be anything revelatory here, but when compared to many of its contemporaries it shines. The characters are older than most maniac-fodder these kinds of movies throw at you (and sharp objects, natch). Sure they are still mainly focused on partying, but they're mine workers and its nice to see that instead of the average job-less teens. The relationships between them feel real because of the job they've based their lives around which in turn helps the movie flow realistically from scene to scene.

Second, the violence. Lions Gate has re-inserted about 3-minutes of gooey redness back into this flick and it helps. The footage itself was noticeably grainy so I could easily tell where the theatrical cut ended and the inserted footage began. Honestly, I don't think I would have liked the movie nearly as much had I seen the cut version. The kills are all great and without them this movie would probably have been quite lifeless, they give the movie a much needed edge. Coupled with the well written characters it helps the kills achieve that higher level of shock.

Overall I was very pleased with My Bloody Valentine Uncut. I won't go on record saying it's my favorite slasher of all time, but it's a very high quality entry into the genre. I only wish Lions Gate had inserted the other 6 minutes of footage, but maybe somewhere down the line we'll get an ultimate edition or something. Color me surprised!

Up Next: Friday The 13th UNCUT.

This post is a part of the Final Girl Film Club! Visit her blog at:

It's pretty much one of the best horror blogs going.

-Dan Gorman

The film remake or: How I learned to stop worrying and enjoy the show

Leave it to a trashy remake of an, albeit not so amazing but entirely classic horror film, to get the general public thinking about film remakes again; or maybe not? Considering that the average college student, aside from the film majors and movie buffs alike, probably hasn’t seen the original Friday the 13th, what then is the point? The film remake is about as old as narrative film itself, Hitchcock did it with his own remake of his film The Man Who Knew Too Much, and so did DeMille with The Ten Commandments. But some have gone so far as to say there isn’t anything original left in cinema. I wouldn’t go so far, but you don’t have to look far to see how many remakes have come out within the last few months. The Day the Earth Stood Still, My Bloody Valentine 3D, and The Uninvited are just some of the recent plethora of remakes taking over screens around the world. But why? Really is there some story of storytelling shortage within Hollywood? And why do they usually fail to live up to their originals? That isn’t always the truth, and considering that both The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Uninvited are actually quite good, it is possible for us as an audience to see how hard it really is to create a great remake.

For every remake that achieves the lofty goal of being a great film, there are at least three which fail miserably. Most of the general population probably doesn’t know that last years critically lauded film The Departed was actually a remake of the widely successful Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. While these great films can be counted on one hand, the number of bad ones goes on and on, take the horrible Halloween remake, or how about Mr. Deeds, Planet of the Apes, and who can forget the horrendously insulting Psycho? So what’s all the trouble then? Frankly it seems that Hollywood is more concerned with turning a quick profit than anything else (but really, tell me something we didn’t already know). Almost all remade films are based on either a foreign picture, or an ageing one. What the industry seems to be saying is that today’s audiences are either unable or unwilling to watch a film from another country, or an older one. Thankfully or not, sometimes the new ones work. The Day the Earth Stood Still for example is a mildly successful update of the classic film, which is able to re-create the same ideals for today’s audience that the original was able to produce; its seems more a re-envisioning rather than a remake. And it is in the horror genre where Hollywood has had more than its fair share of success when remaking films. David Cronenburg’s The Fly is widely regarded as superior to its classic, but easily overlooked, original of the same name starring Vincent Price. While not to diminish the cinematic value of the first incarnation, what Cronenburg did was take an essentially b-movie, and transform it into a horror classic which retains the barebones of the storyline, but elevates it to something truly Cronenburgian. A terrifying tale of human genetics gone horribly wrong, with hints of all the boundary crossing elements (among other things) we’re come to expect from the Canadian filmmaker.

Another film, though not as highly regarded as The Fly, but one which equally holds its place in cinematic history, is John Carpenter’s The Thing. The film contains one of the most shocking and intense sequences in the genre’s history, the blood-test sequence. And it is this scene which is easily able to still shock audiences today. So what do we say to those naysayers, up in arms over the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or the soon-to-be update of The Birds? It is impossible to not question a lot of contemporary remakes, but what some filmmakers are able to prove, is that with the right balance of skill and creative license, a remake can succeed. So maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all?

-Jake Gorman