Video Rewind: Valentine vs. Valentine
Be still My Bloody Heart
For me, Valentine's Day really is no big deal. It's just another day, but for Hollywood it meant so-so box office for two slasher movies set on this day reserved for love.
When the original My Bloody Valentine opened on Feb. 11, 1981 it really didn't seem to do very well at the box office since it wasn't a sequel to anything, but when the remake opened on Jan. 16, 2009, the remake took in over $21.2 million dollars in the first weekend alone.
So I thought I'd compare the two to determine which version is better.
In the '81 version the town of Valentine Bluffs is just getting back into the Valentine Day spirit after not celebrating the holiday for the last 20 years due to the murders of two mine supervisors (Fred Watters and Jeff Fulton) after an explosion a year earlier. They decided to leave the mine and head of for the Valentine celebration and didn't follow proper procedures for making sure all of the men had gotten out for the day. Thus an explosion occurred trapping six miners, but one, Harry Warden (Peter Cowper), was the sole survivor after resorting to cannibalism in order to survive. For revenge he comes back the following year and kills both of the supervisors and vows to continue killing every Valentine's Day as long as the town celebrates.
For the remake, there are news reports during the opening credits as Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles) admits to not following proper procedures set down by his father's mining company, or did he really follow proper procedures but did Harry Warden (Rich Walters) set out to kill the miners and then use the explosion as a cover up? But this time, Harry's been in a coma for a year and comes out of it on all days. Can you guess which day it is and slaughters most of the hospital staff. He manages to make it to the mine where a bunch of kids are having a party and he slaughters almost everyone in attendance except for Tom, Sarah (Jaime King), Axel (Kerr Smith) and Irene (Betsy Rue).
Of course there's the love triangle aspect to both films involving Tom, Sarah and Axel or in the case of the original TJ, Sarah and Axel (Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier and Neil Affleck respectively). Both Tom and TJ have returned back to town only to discover that Sarah and Axel are dating (the original) and married (the remake). They both want Sarah back and while we know in the original TJ had left to "find himself" on the west coast, nothing is explained in the remake until the end.
Going back to the actual filming location, the town of Valentine Bluffs could be considered a character itself. The town used in Nova Scotia was a lot more gritty, rugged and rural (what a mining town should seem like) and since it's a small town everyone knew each other. For the remake the town's been renamed to Harmony and doesn't hold that grittiness. It's too clean with nicer homes, compared to when the original Sarah is walking home late. She lives in probably the poorest part of the city and the neighborhood reflects it.
One of the common bonds in the original is the movie is about a group of friends. They all work together, have probably grown up together and hang out together, whereas the friend aspect isn't explored in the remake. The only mutual friend the three have in common is Irene but she seems to have left the pack after her and Axel broke up years earlier.
If the remake was in it for the gore factor it wins hands down. In a majority of the film someone is getting killed off, whereas in the original it's the suspense which keeps you wanting more. The kills in the original are fast or not shown, but since the sequel is in 3D I guess you would have to show something to scare the audience. Both do share the same kill which in the original was original.
The characters aren't fully developed in the remake as compared to the original. With the original you start to care for them whereas in the sequel it's more the actors are getting paid to recite lines and move about. Whenever I watch the original and Chief Newby (Don Francks) enters Mabel's Laundromat he calls out "Mabel!" and for those of us out enough it's kind of instinctive to say to yourself, "Another Black Label!" in reference to the beer.
In the remake they've reversed the party to the beginning whereas in the original they take the party away from the Union Hall (after Mayor Hanniger cancels the dance) to the mines. It's not really explained why the kids are having a party at the beginning in the mine but by holding it at the end of the movie it makes more sense. They were looking forward to something which was taken away from them and yes they paid the price of it.
Another thing with the original there wasn't a lot of nudity (in fact I don't any remember in it) but in the remake Rue is doing full frontal for a few good minutes. I'm sure it was to get the guys in, but given the choice they'd be filling the seats anyway since it involved a lot of violence.
For a movie to have held up for 30 years, my heart will always be with the original.