I watched this a couple weeks ago, in the belated spirit of Valentine’s Day. With the opening scene being what it was, I thought this was going to be a pretty killer movie. I was a little let down.
In this Canadian slasher film directed by George Mihalka, we start with two miners, a male and a female, down in a mine and they are apparently on break because they are getting it on in the mine shaft. As they get ready to take off their clothes, the male picks up the female and thrusts her into the wall where a pick axe is lodged, impaling her and killing her. The male is wearing a gas mask of sorts and we never see his face.
The rest of the movie is about a small mining town that, after twenty years, decides to reinstate the Valentine’s Day Dance tradition that had been canceled after a horrible mining accident.
The accident happened twenty years prior in 1960 on the night of the dance on Valentine’s Day. A team of miners were left in the mines to attend the dance that night. While the dance was going on the team of miners got buried alive in the mines due to a methane explosion. Harry Warden was the only survivor and accomplished living until he was rescued by turning into a cannibal and eating his friends while trapped. This caused him to go insane and after getting out of the mine, he killed the supervisors that left them unattended and was committed to a mental hospital. He vowed to kill more people if they ever host a Valentine’s Day dance again.
Now, jump forward twenty years to Thursday February 12, 1980. They’ve decided to have the dance again and there are a number of young people excited about it. The Mayor gets a valentine, a bloody human heart, and it warns him not to go ahead with the dance or there will be bloodshed.
They go ahead and keep the dance scheduled until people start getting hacked up by a murderer in mining gear. Once this starts to happen, the town sheriff orders the town hall closed and the dance canceled.
This upsets the younger town crowd and of course, they rebel and schedule their own gathering at the mines. (How stupid are we, kids? Teens, in my opinion, have a very slim chance of surviving horror movies.) One of these younger folks just so happens to be the son of one of the supervisors that was murdered in 1960 by Harry Warden. The officials also discover that the mental hospital has no record of ever housing Warden…ever. (So, NOW, where is he??)
Naturally, as the party progresses on the night of Valentine’s, people begin to get murdered left and right. The murderer chases everyone through the mines and is eventually revealed to be the slain supervisor’s son. He escapes the clutches of the police, further into the mine, screaming in insanity about revenge and bloody valentines.
Okay, so here we have the foundation for what could be a great horror flick. I actually looked some things up about this movie and I found that there was a HUGE censorship conflict over the gore content of this film in the process of its UK release and also when releasing in the United States. However, I struggle to see what the big debate was over. Apparently, what got released originally in the US was considered to be super gory but, frankly, it’s no worse than A Nightmare on Elm St. or An American Werewolf in London. But hey, that’s just my opinion. I will say that later in 2009, they re-released it with more of the intended scenes that were cut out due to censorship and the director has put his seal of approval on THIS 2009 version, pressing that it is more how the movie was intended to be viewed. (I’d like to see this version. Although it can’t include too much more, it’d still be nice to see what the director’s original vision was before it got cut to pieces by oversensitive people who don’t realize this is truly just fiction.
As for the actors, which I admit I did not name characters and actors because I didn’t feel the movie was good enough to warrant that kind of detailed review, they weren’t horrible but, they weren’t our favorites either.
The movie was watchable and the kill scene at the very beginning is probably the best scene in my opinion. I do think putting that at the beginning set the bar a little high for the rest of the movie and they really just couldn’t measure up to that kind of scene. It really did get me excited for the movie and then, as the movie went on, I actually checked the time counter to see how long it had left. Also, it is kind of poorly lit in a lot of scenes, in my opinion. I do recognize that they are underground scenes however, I have seen many movies overcome the same hurdle.
Now, while I wouldn’t just come out and recommend this movie to anyone, if they were a slasher movie fan and had run out of things to watch and they were looking for something new that they had never seen, I would tell them to watch this. But, I would pre-empt the viewing with something to the effect of “Don’t have really high expectations for this movie.” Still, it didn’t put me to sleep and I could follow the story so, I do believe that’s a plus.