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In 1980, the slasher film movement was just starting to pick up pace. John Dunning – co-founder of Cinepix Productions with Andre Link – approached George Mihalka to direct a stalk & slash project after seeing his first feature film, a comedy called Pick-up Summer. They gave him a 2 film deal and a writer (John Beaird) for ‘My Bloody Valentine’, based on a one page treatment – the idea being to appeal to the ‘holiday horror’ loving crowd that turned out in masses for Halloween and Friday the 13th.

The bad news was that the production needed to be speedy. The team had just under 6 months to get the $2.3 million budgeted film finished and released in time for Valentine’s Day. Fully aware that sequels to Friday the 13th and Halloween were coming, Dunning and co set out to beat them to the punch (or stab, if you will).

In fact, they were so paranoid about having the kick-ass holiday title stolen from them that they sped forward with a working title, The Secret, not even informing cast and crew the real title until after filming (a real secret, indeed).

Shooting took place in a real mining town, Sydney Mine, Nova Scotia and things got off to a nightmare start when the owners cleaned up the location prior to production. The cold, dreary, dusty look was exactly what Mihalka had wanted for his film but the owners wrongly assumed otherwise! In fact, it cost them (an over budget) $30k to paint the the mine to return it to its original appearance!


In a turn of fate, it was Paramount Pictures – wanting another horror property to capitalise on the success of Friday the 13th – who picked up and distributed My Bloody Valentine on time, but not before it’s fair share of problems (more on this later).

My personal experience with the film was most likely different to American/Canadian slasher fans (I’m a Brit). I wasn’t even aware of its existence until I hit my late teens. My regular video shop stocked other classic holiday themed slashers such as the Friday the 13th franchise, April Fool’s Day and Halloween but there was no such title as My Bloody Valentine.

I once got chance to visit this awesome, run down looking video shop which we always passed on the way into town. They didn’t have it either (but did introduce me to Chopping Mall and Night of the Demons). It was my surfing of the world-wide web at college in the late 90’s which set me on the path of the Valentine’s Day slasher.

I spent the majority of my time on fan made Friday the 13th and Halloween websites and must’ve stumbled upon a comments section where somebody mentioned it. Another Paramount effort, released the same year as Friday the 13th Part 2. I was high with excitement.

As the old story goes, I just had to have it. Fast forward a few years later and I’m spending all my time on the message board of ‘Arrow in the Head’ where fans discussed their love for it but bemoaned the lack of gore (boooo) and I had also read a fascinating piece on ‘The Hysteria Lives!’

This is where my memory is a little hazy but with no VHS in sight (and DVDs a couple of years away from becoming my thing) I do believe I recorded it off of Sky TV one night in the early 00s. It was obviously the cut version. Every kill was neutered to the point where the film didn’t really have that much of an impact on me. Of course I liked it but it wasn’t something I had the urge to revisit. I had loathed any kind of censorship (and still do) so knowing the UNCUT version was supposedly out there, I hoped one day I’d get chance to judge it fairly.

Years later, I got finally that chance.

Once the remake craze kicked off, slashers started receiving the ‘upgrade’ treatment and in 2009 it was My Bloody Valentine’s turn. In 3D no less. To coincide with the release, Lionsgate issued a R1 special edition DVD with never before seen missing gore reinstated – sourced from John Dunning’s storage vault in Canada. It was the most complete version we would ever see. For all intents and purposes, it was UNCUT!

That’s when the film blew my head off and instantly became one of my favourites. The kills finally packed a heavyweight punch. The grain of the damaged film elements added to the sleazy, ‘video nasty’ aesthetic. You knew when a kill was coming but every extra second of that low quality footage gave me a buzz as it felt like something we were never supposed to see. It was heaven for any slasher enthusiast.

Although it had been made clear by director George Mihalka that there was one awesome kill scene sadly forever lost (my imagination will have to deal with the infamous ‘double drill bit impalement’), it still felt like a huge victory for fans. Interesting note – a similar double impalement kill from the same year’s Friday the 13th Part 2 also became the source of much hype. It too, was cut (this time at the request of the studio instead of the MPAA) and wasn’t seen by fans for decades until Scream Factory rescued it from oblivion in late 2020!


’20 years ago in the sleepy town of Valentine Bluffs, a fatal mining disaster occurred on Valentine’s Day while some of the crew was decorating for a party. The sole survivor of the accident killed the remaining crewmembers and warned the town not to celebrate Valentine’s Day again. When a group of teenagers decides to defy that order, a murderous maniac in mining gear begins dispatching townsfolk in bloody and creative ways.’


George Mihalka crafted a slasher film which he could genuinely be proud of. Most of what My Bloody Valentine has to offer is superb.

He opens up proceedings with an amusing murder in the mines. It’s a little corny but it works by nodding to the holiday theme with a neatly placed heart tattoo and provides a quick thrill (which is what the hapless victim was probably hoping for, prior to her death)! Breast penetration has always been a taboo subject so witnessing this scene UNCUT is a wicked affair.

Audience engaged.

But then we’re introduced to something a little different. There’s no babysitting teens in the suburbs or a crew of teen councillors at a summer camp. The slasher shenanigans take place in the fictional working class mining town of Valentine Bluffs, Canada. Shit ain’t pretty. A quiet old place with limited career prospects.

The characters are young adults. You don’t get to make fun of them because they may be 29 year olds but they’re not 29 year old wrinkly ballsacks unconvincingly portraying 17 year old high school kids. (which became common place for slashers in the 80s). They’re a product of their community. They work hard in the mines all week and look forward to getting drunk at the end of it all. Some have life problems. Some have failed careers and get caught up in love triangles. They’re real people, not just slasher fodder.

Mihalka makes you care by adding this level of depth and mundane realism. As he takes you along for the ride for the upcoming Valentine’s festivities, you can almost taste the beer (including a hilarious and cheesy scene where the boys jump out of the work showers and race to their cars half undressed, accompanied by comical music).

Once we move into the thick of the slasher action, the film follows the formulaic beats. The Miner coldly wipes out a lovely old romantic as a warning to the townsfolk, leaving a gruesome message instead of a sweet note. The way she meets her end is not at all dignified and provides one of those “Urgh!” moments when her body is discovered in the laundromat’s tumble drier – a battered, bloody, messy pulp.

The mayor and local police chief cover up the murder to prevent the risk of scaring the locals while trying to find out if Harry Warden has escaped from the asylum he’s been locked up in all these years. Fearing the safety of everyone in the town, the mayor cancels the party. But guess who decides to ignore authority and throw a party in the mines? You got it. These damn ‘kids’ can’t help themselves.

Remember ‘Crazy Ralph’ from Friday the 13th? Well, My Bloody Valentine has its very own grizzled old messenger of doom. Happy, the barkeep, treats the gang to the backstory of Harry Warden and explains just why they should boycott a Valentine’s party or face their death. The montage is stark, disturbing work involving an accident, cannibalism and vengeful murder.

It introduces us to the mythology of Harry Warden.

Cue mockery from the youngsters, not realising that they’re signing their own death warrants (ain’t that just the way this slasher shit goes down?). Ignorant bastards. The film really hits its stride in the mines. The cold, dark and claustrophobic location brings an air of unease and eeriness, which is tough to match. The perfect backdrop for murderous mayhem.

As the usual slasher story goes, a big bunch party it up in the recreation room while opportunities arise for others to slip off into the kitchen to make food and head to the showers to do rude things to each other. We know the score. Find an excuse to isolate yourself from the group and you’ll pay the price. This enables Mihalka to crank up the tension, utilising the locker room and showers to create one of the slasher film’s greatest kills.

John and Slyvia are preparing to create their own X-rated scene (don’t tell the MPAA) when John decides to fetch a beer. After being alone on a bench and looking up at all the creepy mining suits hanging from the ceiling, Sylvia becomes unnerved. The showers get turned on and all the mining suits suddenly start shooting down, one by one. In a state of near hysterics, Slyvia starts clambering through the mining gear but everywhere she turns a new new suit drops directly in front of her (convenient but effective). Eventually, she is faced with the eyeless corpse of Happy, the barkeep – and that’s when things get really rough.

The Miner appears, picks her up by her head, carries her over to a shower fixture and whack….see Special FX for more detail. It’s a fantastic scene which is the embodiment of the sub-genre’s best work. There’s a little suspense, a few false scares, tension and a grotesque pay off. If this doesn’t satisfy your need to see bloody, creative kills, not much will.

Once My Bloody Valentine moves into the final act, we’re treated to full on action down in the mines after a bright idea sees T.J., Sarah, Axel, Howard and a few others venture in. As the gang is unaware of the crazy carnage up at ground level, this allows The Miner to get stalking and slashing the way nature intended. The film really shines here, building in momentum and intensity. Once the realisation hits them that Harry Warden is back, panic sets in and they split up to seek help (ain’t that just the way?!).

There’s a few really great moments here; The Miner starts smashing lights with his pick axe as he moves towards them in the tunnel. The sound designs, lighting, and use of shadows is really effective.

After The Miner dispatches a few more guests with a drill bit (boo-hoo) and nail gun, the gang seek to escape to the top via ladder. This scene seems to go on for a while and increases the suspense because you can’t tell if the killer is coming up behind them (oo’er) or waiting for them at the top. There’s a nasty surprise in store.

To top it all off, there’s a final battle between a protagonist and The Miner, which is rather exciting as it uses the mine carts like a little rollercoaster while the two fight pick axe to pick axe. Action Jackson, baby!

And please remember that this is an early 1981 release, so there’s a mystery surrounding the killer – (Harry Warden, surely?). Mihalka cleverly makes so much of the love triangle subplot that amidst all the drama you naturally assume Harry Warden is the killer (why wouldn’t he be?) and don’t look too much into suspecting anybody else.

When Mihalka pulls the rug out from underneath you with one final shock, he follows it up with a ghastly ending which is gory, unsettling and creepy.

If you’re not totally satisfied (and at least partially surprised by some of the finale) then you’re probably one of few My Bloody Valentine detractors.

I’ve never met any. I hear they’re just an urban legend. Like Harry Warden.


My Bloody Valentine pretty much delivers on the acting front, especially considering this is a slasher film.

Paul Kelman (T.J.), Lori Hallier (Sarah) and Neil Affleck (Axel) complete the love triangle.

T.J. moved away to start a new life on the coast but failed and came home with his tail between his legs. In the meantime, Axel moved in on his girlfriend, Sarah. The tension between T.J. and Axel is palpable and Sarah doesn’t know who to choose.

Don Francks plays Chief Newby and Larry Reynolds is T.J’s Dad and town major. They spend most of the film together, trying to get to the bottom of the Harry Warden mystery while there’s unresolved issues between Mayor Hanniger and son T.J. over his return to working in the mines.

The youngster’s gang includes Alf Humphreys (Howard), Keith Knight (Hollis), Cynthia Dale (Patty) and Helene Udy (Sylvia). Howard is the goofy practical joker of the group and Hollis is the portly moustached chap, who somehow managed to bag himself a hottie in Patty.

The Miner is played by Peter Cowper.

In terms of future genre appearances, Lori Hallier starred in a couple of episodes of the Friday the 13th TV series (with Larry Reynolds also appearing in one).

Neil Affleck appeared in Scanners, Visiting Hours and Murder by Phone.

Helene Udy was in Incubus, Pin and has had a recent career resurgence in several horror films.

Alf Humphreys and Don Francks had the longest and most rewarding careers, racking up over 300 screen credits between them. Humphreys popped up in Final Destination 2 and Francks had a role in Terminal Choice.

There isn’t one performance in My Bloody Valentine which irked me. Everybody was more than credible in their roles and brought the right amount of gusto.

I particularly liked the battle between T.J. and Axel. One minute they’re passive aggressively dissing each other, the next they’re in a full on fist fight. It tremendously helps the mystery angle of the killer’s identity. T.J. is bitter and angry at his plans for a better life backfiring and wants Sarah back to help cope with the loss while Axel is jealous, controlling and insecure. Could it be one of them or is it too obvious?

Howard is also a lot of fun. He’s the perfect resident clown who takes nothing seriously. He’s a welcome humourous contrast to the dogged macho bullshit of T.J. and Axel.

The girls are all likable and not anywhere near as annoying as they tend to be once the screaming starts. They’re all also as cute as hell and I must say I’m disappointed we didn’t see any boobies. Helene Udy, Lori Hallier and Cynthia Dale all handle their scares and traumatic scenes wonderfully. The terror they convey is more than commendable and helped elevate my own viewing tension (especially how scared Udy appears during her ‘moment’).


Harry Warden aka The Miner’s legendary get up comes complete with dark overalls, hard hat, gas mask and a pick axe. This gear is a sub-genre favourite and many fans rank it as the best stand alone slasher outfit.


A crowd pleasing 12. As previously mentioned, all that’s left of the famous double penetration drill kill is the corpses but there’s so much here for slasher fans to marvel at. Put on your mask and get down to the mines. You won’t be disappointed.


Tom Burman was the man responsible for the gory slaughter and he couldn’t have done a better job. What you see in My Bloody Valentine rivals the quality and creativity of Tom Savini. In fact, had an UNCUT version of this film existed back in 1981, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were the same person.

Putting aside a yucky looking corpse which had done a few rounds in a tumble drier, there are two standout kills:

One poor soul gets a pick axe fiercely swung up through his throat and jaw with such power that it pops out through his eye socket with the dangling eyeball for all to see.

But my personal favourite is the unlucky lady Sylvia, who unfortunately finds herself being hoisted up and hung onto one of the mine’s shower units by the back of her skull. The water/blood mixture sprays out like a piss poor fountain, leaving a haunting, deathly expression on her face.

Oh, I almost forgot. As the tagline reads, ‘There’s more than one way to lose your heart’ – this literally happens to one unhappy camper (or should I say miner?). Yes, a bloody, pumping heart gets extracted from someone’s chest. So romantic.

For years Tom Burman must have felt aggrieved as not only did My Bloody Valentine get heavily chopped but so did another slasher he worked on that same year, Happy Birthday To Me.

The difference is a gorier version of the latter still hasn’t seen the light of day.

This is where My Bloody Valentine may possibly find its detractors. This bad boy is PG rated when it comes to showing skin. All we get is a woman in a bra during the opening (the fact she gets penetrated through her tits doesn’t count). Eagle eyed enthusiasts may notice the pictures of topless women in the bar.

Otherwise, sorry, ladies and gents – no boobies, butts, balls or schlongs to stare at! Those old mines are way too dusty for nudey parts to be out, anyway!


My Bloody Valentine doesn’t have a scary signature theme in the same vein as Halloween or Friday the 13th but it does contain a catchy (and highly amusing) tribute to its maniacal legend, Harry Warden. The Ballad of Harry Warden is a fan favourite, often quoted whenever the film is discussed. The rest of the score, which has been available on vinyl since 2016, is classic early 80s fare with a polished, professional sound.

“The foreboding score is a mix of both minimal synth and orchestral compositions interwined with bluegrass and country cues.”

It’s not memorable material but effective throughout the film.


Still riding high from the massive success of Friday the 13th a year earlier, Paramount Pictures was hoping for lightning to strike twice for a holiday themed slasher. Unfortunately for them (and even more so for slasher fans), the MPAA were in no mood to play ball and ordered 9 minutes worth of cuts in order to pass the film for a R-rating.

Violence in movies was fast becoming a hot topic and there was major backlash following John Lennon’s shocking murder in December 1980.

Paramount had already been on the receiving end of ‘negative’ press after the grisly murders depicted in 1980’s Friday the 13th and didn’t even consider accepting an X-rating. They wanted the film to be as profitable as possible, while somehow maintaining a decent reputation as a studio.

Released in time for Valentine’s Day 1981, My Bloody Valentine disappointed at the box office. Grossing a little over $5.5 million against its $2.3 million budget, it wasn’t anywhere close to sharing the success of Friday the 13th. Several images of explicit gore had appeared in Fangoria magazine when the film was in production. Fan theory suggests that once audiences realised this bloody footage had been excised from the film, word got out quickly and interest dropped.

The UK was naturally treated to the same theatrical cut and I haven’t seen anything to suggest that it made a big splash over here. While Paramount had already gone full steam ahead with a sequel to Friday the 13th (opening later that year), there would be no such chance for My Bloody Valentine.

Throughout the 80s the film was released on VHS and laserdisc and none of the UNCUT footage ever showed up. When it was released on DVD in 2002, Paramount claimed the footage didn’t even exist. The film’s producer, John Dunning, disagreed and claimed to have a print with all the missing footage in his vault. Even so, the years had been kind to the film and My Bloody Valentine became something of a favourite among slasher fans, often being touted as one of the best standalone slashers of all time. 

When Lionsgate picked up on this popularity and capitalized on the huge remake trend by creating their own My Bloody Valentine in 3D, they released a special edition DVD/Blu-ray of the original at the beginning of 2009 to coincide with the new film.

The biggest news of all? For the first time in almost 30 years, the fans would get to see an unrated version. It ended up only being around 3 minutes worth of additional gore inserted but director George Mihalka signed off on the DVD/Blu-ray saying that most of the 9 minutes previously reported were exposition and non-important footage. The double impalement drill bit kill HAD indeed been lost forever but fans were finally treated to extended, gorier kills and got to enjoy the film in its (almost) intended version. This was to be considered a massive win.

Today, My Bloody Valentine is widely recognised as the greatest stand alone slasher of all time.

If we ran a poll across the world, I’d be confident that it would receive the most votes (yes, it’s even more popular than my personal favourite, The Burning, so shut up). In fact, such is its popularity that it was easily the most requested slasher for a new Blu-ray release. In February 2020, fans saw their dreams come true when Scream Factory answered their call.


My Bloody Valentine is available on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD and Blu-ray.

The DVD release in the US and UK was a crappy bare bones, theatrical piece of shit. Bog standard stuff from Paramount, who never cared about their slasher properties and couldn’t care less about the fans.

The Lionsgate DVD/Blu-ray unrated special edition was hugely popular and became something of a holy grail once it went out of print.

For over 10 years fans would spend in excess of $100 to get a copy of the gory glory on Blu-ray while every now and then others would get lucky in second hand shops, snagging this holy grail for a few dollars – the owners obviously assuming that it was just a random title (idiots!).

Well, those awful days are now over (I myself only had the DVD release of the special edition and often contemplated a big offer to upgrade to Blu-ray).

Scream Factory further won over our bloody, blackened hearts by announcing in 2019 that February 2020 would see the release of a brand new collector’s edition with a whole host of new extras (including a cast and crew 35th reunion special from 2016) AND a brand new 4k transfer of the theatrical (why bother?) and unrated versions (did the Paramount vaults finally come to use?).

This was big news. Big, BIG news. And yes, they even tidied up the grainy gore footage! The holy grail for slasher fans had been updated and boy, weren’t we thankful?! They followed this up not long afterwards with a limited steelbook edition, complete with an awesome little ‘Harry Warden’ action figure.


My Bloody Valentine is the 3rd greatest post-Halloween non-franchise slasher movie ever made. Yep, there’s those bastard qualifiers again! It’s damn close to perfection and only trails The Burning and Hell Night for me (while I do accept that it’s better than the latter – we all have our preferences, bitch).

Would I have loved to see a sequel? Hell yes! I would’ve loved a franchise. The legend of Harry Warden and iconic look of The Miner is perfect for comeback after comeback. I can wholeheartedly understand why fans love this film so much. It grows on me with each viewing.

It offers up everything one could ask for in a slasher; likeable, relatable characters, a creepy location, an awesome backstory, a great looking killer, grisly death scenes, a holiday theme and a fun twist. It nails that list. Damn, it even has a fun little ditty about Harry Warden you can sing along to (which fans do).

Ok, it’s missing nudity but most fans will let that slide as long as you have all of the above. In fact, when I was younger I used to dislike nudity in slashers as I always felt it would be used to excuse the lack of slasher action (which sometimes is the case).

These days, I have to say I’m more than fine with it.

Even though the goreless version held it back for decades, My Bloody Valentine had a strong fanbase which has only gotten stronger with the unrated (and all intents and purposes UNCUT) version.

My only issues with the film is that it’s almost too polished a production and therefore doesn’t feature the same scuzzy, sleazy aesthetic as The Burning or gothic scares like Hell Night.

While I can see that many will find The Miner scary, he doesn’t quite tap that fear button for me. He’s a totally cool, badass villain but that’s where it ends. I have the same contrasting opinion of Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. The latter scares me, where as the former – as menacing and destructive as he is – doesn’t have the same impact.

Also, the love triangle sub-plot, while admirable in its efforts to provide deeper material for a slasher, does equate to the leads being a little more serious than some would like. These are minor quibbles. We’re talking teeny tiny deduction in points. The mine setting is one of the best ever. The film’s a thrill from start to finish.

I would have absolutely no issues with anybody championing My Bloody Valentine as the greatest standalone slasher of all time.

But for me, it remains in 3rd spot. If you have a problem with that, send Harry Warden to pick-axe my cold, loveless heart!

9 / 10