I've always maintained that the best remakes are those that either completely re-imagine their source material as to be almost unrecognizable, or take a film that was pretty crappy to begin with and try to make it better. Recent redos like David Cronenberg's 'The Fly' and John Carpenter's 'The Thing' are good examples of the former, while Steven Soderbergh's 'Ocean's 11' is an equally-fine example of the latter. Somewhere in between (or far beneath) are the recent spate of Hollywood horror remakes, which has seen films ranging from the terrible to the classic being overhauled to largely poor effect. Everything from 'Halloween' to 'Prom Night' to 'Last House on the Left' to 'Friday the 13th' has now been retooled, and quite frankly, I don't think a single one of 'em has been much good.
So what a shock to say that -- gulp! -- 'My Bloody Valentine 3-D' is the best horror remake to come down the pike since 2003's 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (which is the film that started this whole damn remake craze to begin with). It takes a marginal 1981 slasher of the same name, utilizes its basic story and character types, further pumps up the action with plenty of gratuitous gore and nudity, and then tops it off with some wonderfully gimmicky 3-D nonsense to create one of the most fun slasher movies I've seen in ages. Yeah, it's bloody and dumb, but the great thing about a slasher film is that when it works, it doesn't matter how shopworn the conventions are. Like a roller coaster, it's not an intellectual exercise -- we just strap in and enjoy the ride.
The story takes all the basic ingredients of any slasher film and doesn't stray much from the template. We get the cardboard protagonists, the screaming final girl, and the heavy-breathing masked killer (this time, a miner with a sharp pick-axe). There's the goofy prologue and endless early exposition, which sets up the Horrible Past Incident that will now repeat itself on a Well-Known National Holiday. And, of course, scene after scene that follows with either a.) unknowing (and usually naked) victims meeting gory ends; b.) our hero/heroines yelling at each other and revealing big plot secrets so we have to guess right up until the end who is the real killer; and c.) everyone acting totally stupid and irrational, if only because otherwise the whole damn town would have just up and left after the first murder and the movie would be over.
The original 'My Bloody Valentine' was not a classic, but the remake knows this. It is smart enough to cherish its murder scenes, setpieces, and darkly comic touches, and regurgitate them in most of the right ways. It's fun to see a slasher update that truly "reimagines" the original by presenting essentially the same material in different form, as well as adding something new so even diehard fans are surprised. No, it's not rocket science to once again bake someone in a laundromat dryer, or offer nifty new takes on how to crack through a skull with a pick-axe (I counted three popped-out eyeballs, at least). But there are flashes of truly sublime courage on display here. Take the absolutely hilarious -- breathtaking even -- "motel massacre" scene that features a completely naked female victim running from a miner with a pick-axe for about five minutes straight. The misogynist boundaries of the slasher genre are pushed so far that 'My Bloody Valentine' goes beyond even the 'Scream' movies in making post-modernism safe again for horror.
Unfortunately, 'My Bloody Valentine' is so self-aware, and so eager to pander to genre expectations, that it never truly emerges as anything more than cinematic snack food. That's OK, of course, but this is hardly a horror film for the ages. It's just an unabashedly gory, shamelessly derivative, and surprisingly passionate take on a '80s cult film that wasn't particularly good to begin with. It also takes itself a wee bit too seriously with all the "character development" and gooey WB relationship drama. (The acting is, by the way, almost uniformly horrible.) All laudable for a horror remake, to be sure, and it's nice in a modern slasher flick to get characters that we do, for once, kinda care about a little. Is 'My Bloody Valentine' a great film? Hardly. But did I have a helluva good time watching it? Absolutely.
(Note that I did not originally see the film in 3-D during it's theatrical run. I only watched the 2-D version here, and portions of the red/blue 3-D presentation that's also provided to rate the transfer. But even without the dimensional gimmick, the film works perfectly fine "flat." All those comical shots of pick-axes flying at the camera and gory entrails dangling in front of our eyes are not that distracting, so I suspect that the average slasher fan's enjoyment quotient will remain high even without the 3-D option.)
Lionsgate has produced a very good-looking 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.85:1) for 'My Bloody Valentine.' Both 2-D and 3-D versions are offered on the same BD-50 dual-layer disc, via seamless branching. As usual with red/blue anaglyph 3-D presentations, I'm just not a big fan -- I preferred the 2-D version, despite the cheesy sticking-things-at-the-camera gimmickry.
The 2-D transfer looks great. The source is pristine and razor-sharp. Blacks are nice and inky, with wonderfully robust contrast that doesn't burn too bright but gives the image plenty of pop. Colors are very deep - the palette is flush with deep crimsons, blues and splashes of purple and green. Colors teeter on the edge of oversaturation but never falls over -- it's certainly "eye-popping." Despite the dank interiors of the mine, shadow delineation holds up strongly, and visible detail throughout is well above-average for a new release. (Only the bad CGI looks totally phony.) There is some grain and a bit of noise, which is the only drawback. Otherwise, the encode is clean and free of defects. 'My Bloody Valentine' is a cut above.
As for the 3-D version, the red/blue process defeats color -- everything looks like a purple-ish smudge -- and even wearing the glasses for only a twenty-minute test drive was tiring on my eyes. The 3-D effect does work fairly well, however. There is a good amount of depth to the effects, so objects popping out at us in any sort of extreme manner do startle. However, flatter scenes are just that -- flat. Unless there is a pick-axe being stuck in your face, the dimensional effect is marginal. I'm waiting for true full-color 3-D to come to Blu-ray; until then, these red/blue systems are a valiant effort but just don't cut it for me.
Going well above the call of duty, Lionsgate gives us a full-blown DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 7.1 Surround track (48kHz/24-bit). The result is really fun -- a slasher movie whose soundtrack truly does slash at you from all directions.
'My Bloody Valentine 3-D' is a gimmick film visually as well as aurally. The four surround channels are employed for all manner of discrete moments to accompany the dimensional effects. Stock music stingers abound, and it's silly but totally entertaining. Score bleed is pretty good, too, as is atmosphere, so generally there is little inactivity in the rears. Even though 'My Bloody Valentine' is a relatively low-budget film, it sounds quite polished. Dialogue never feels cheap or overdubbed, and is quite pronounced in the mix. Low bass is more than ample for the proceedings, and dynamic range is pretty wide. This soundtrack surprised me, in all the right ways.
Likely due to the inclusion of both 2-D and 3-D versions, this Blu-ray isn't really loaded with extras. I was disappointed by the flimsiness of the making-of material. Video is mostly 1080, with only the deleted scenes poor in quality.
'My Bloody Valentine' is a totally retro horror remake, and all the better for not taking itself too seriously -- it succeeds where so many other of its recent brethren have failed. It's no lame origin story, no super-serious "reimagining," no depressing brutality-fest of torture porn. It's just an intentionally self-referential, gleefully gory ode to '80s popcorn slasher flicks. This Blu-ray is bloody good, too, with 2-D and 3-D versions provided, in great video and audio. Only the supplements kinda suck. But no matter -- 'My Bloody Valentine' is a great Saturday night rental, and worth a purchase for fans of the genre.