Harry Warden is not a very nice man. In fact, he is so unpleasant he massacred 22 people before being trapped in the mine where he works and is thought to be dead. Flash forward ten years and the mine’s owner has recently died; his son Tom (Supernatural‘s Jensen Ackles) comes to town to sell up.
Tom survived being attacked by Harry as did several of his friends, but they stayed in the town to support each other. Tom, however, bolted and hasn’t been seen in years. With Tom returning to sell the mine, he isn’t the most popular guy around especially as his old sweetheart Sarah is now married to his old enemy Axel (who is now the sheriff).
Tom checks into the local motel and, unfortunately for him, he is put in a room next to a local trucker and his ‘bit on the side’. These two are certainly energetic individuals and rather noisy as well. The trucker is played by one of the writers of the film, Todd Farmer (who also co-wrote Jason X) and manages to upset his ‘lady friend’ when she discovers he has been filming their ‘fun’. Pursuing him to his truck, in recent cinema’s most gratuitous nude scene, she is met by the trucker meeting his maker courtesy of a well aimed pick axe. What follows is a lengthy pursuit scene where the killer chases her round the motel whilst she is still naked. Also thrown in for good measure is a killing of a midget. Really.
The next day, the bodies are found along with the video camera which has filmed the killer. As the killer is dressed in miner’s gear, the Harry Warden rumours start to fly around. Is Harry really dead? If he is, who is the killer? Not particularly original, but we are talking of a remake of a Friday The 13th rip-off from 1981.
Director Patrick Lussier, Wes Craven’s regular editor and a veteran of direct to video sequels and a couple of theatrical features, is obviously an old hand at horror, having learned from Craven and does a pretty good job. Lussier cranks out the tension when needed and throws in a few red herrings to keep you guessing who the killer is. It’s a shame Lussier didn’t shoot the film in a widescreen scope ratio as the mines would sure look good in full anamorphic.
As most people know the film was released in a 3D and ‘flat’ versions. Lions Gate, to their credit, have given us both versions. The ‘flat’ version has a nice picture, if a little soft and doesn’t suffer a poor transfer like other films shot originally in 3D such as Jaws 3. The 3D version is of the old fashioned red and green glasses brigade and is presented well. I didn’t watch the whole film in 3D as the red and green glasses gave me a funny head, so I made a mental note of the obvious 3D scenes and watched them back after I had watched the film. The 3D does work, so the film is worth watching with the glasses if your eyes can handle it.
Performance-wise, Ackles is great as our would-be hero. He is terrific in Supernatural and in this film shows he has a nice screen presence which hopefully will be exploited in other films. The supporting cast include Dawson Creek‘s Kerr Smith as the sheriff, Jaime King from Sin City and a most welcome return to the big screen for the mighty Tom Atkins from Halloween III, The Fog and Maniac Cop. Atkins is a stand out in a small role as a retired policeman and looks not much different from his heyday in the 80s, if a little older.
Gary Tunnicliffe’s makeup effects are suitably gory and enhanced with some CGI for the 3D effects. There are some nice pick axe deaths, in particular a scene where someone loses his jaw. The script has all the usual slasher cliches and, as mentioned above, some nice old fashioned nudity paying tribute to horror films from the 80s where a topless woman was almost compulsory.
Extras-wise, we have a commentary and a production featurette. Nothing really special but serviceable all the same. My Bloody Valentine is a respectable modern day slasher picture, much better than Scar but not as good as Laid To Rest (I do love that film!) Well worth a rental or if like mad miners with a pick axe, it’s definitely worth a purchase.
One final note, it’s worth checking out Lions Gate’s US release of the original from 1981. All the gory stuff which was cut by the MPAA is now back in the film. It’s horribly dated, but fun all the same. Both films now stand proudly together on my shelf along with various Friday The 13th movies.