Movie Reviews 41 – Hollow Valentine’s

My Bloody Valentine (1981)
One of the early 80’s slasher classics that was made as a result of the Canadian movie incentive program of the 70’s and 80’s (A.K.A. the “Canadian Tax Shelter” films). A cave in at a mine on Valentine’s night that was the result of a skipped security procedure results in five miners trapped underground. When the rescue crew finally manages to get to the miners they find only one miner, Harry Warden, still alive but now insane, and the other bodies partially eaten. This is the setup given in the prologue of the movie. The following year, Harry wreaks havoc on Valentine’s day avenging the collapse by killing all those connected to the events leading up to the disaster. The next few years results in relative quiet as the town shuns all Valentine celebrations. But after a decades old hiatus, some townsfolk decide that enough time has passed and stage a Valentine’s night dance. After all, Harry was supposed to have passed away while in an institution. People start finding Valentine heart shaped chocolate boxes only to find bloody oozing human hearts inside. The people receiving the hearts and are then killed by Harry in some gory manner. The dance is called off but some of the younger kids decide that they can go ahead and have their own little party at the mining company as one of the boys parents owns the company. Sure enough night of bloody mayhem ensues. The low budget, mediocre quality of this somewhat dated production works quite well with the subject matter here. It has that cozy small town feel which is exactly what the movie is all about. Nothing that will tax your brain, but enough intrigue and gore to keep you happy.

My Bloody Valentine(2009)
A fairly true to the original remake of the 1981 movie with a few slight changes. At the beginning there are a lot of gratuitous gore kills and it seemed that this was going to be a mindless, plotless cash in. But things settled down after the intro and it quickly fell into the familiar story after that. The major shift is that the story is now told from the point of view of a woman who was going out with the son of the mine owner when the initial bloodbath occurs. The man decides to to just skip town without any word to anyone. He only returns after his father dies and he has come just to close down the mine, much to the detriment of the town folk. He also tries to get back the girl, but she’s moved on in her life having married the chief cop. When the killing starts again, its the returned man who draws attention from the whole town and you can just imagine what how the cop feels about his wife’s old boyfriend showing up. This gives the movie a degree of suspense and intrigue over and above the horrors being committed. The movie also sports some ambitious but terrible low budget CGI scenes, especially at the beginning. Overall it’s not a bad movie and as a viewer you now have the choice of opting for a slightly manicured version, or the grungy period original. The way I see it, it’s a win-win combo.

Hollow Man (2000)
I remember when this movie first came out in theaters thinking how silly it was to even try to sell this thing. I mean, c’mon? How many times has the “Invisible Man” concept been brought to screen? And besides, everyone knows that the original 1933 Claude Rains Invisible Man hit the high mark right out of the gate so why bother making yet another Invisible Man clone. How wrong I was. To begin with, this has Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth Shue. Now I vaguely remembered Bacon being the star but for some reason I did not know that Shue also headlined. Things were looking good already and I hadn’t even put the disc into the player yet. The next surprise was the beginning of the movie that featured a menagerie of lab animals that were already invisible. So right away we learn that the movie is not only about becoming invisible, as it seems that it’s already a basic reality. Before long we find out that it’s really all about how to turn someone invisible back to opaque. Another interesting twist. But the movie goes into full gear with the ‘mad scientist’ Bacon, the first self inflicted guinea pig in the experiment, deciding to make full use of his invisibility when it becomes apparent that he isn’t going back to visible anytime soon. And while I thought that invisibility would be lame from the FX point of view as we’ve seen it a million times, I’ve never seen the transformations, to and back, occurring in a layered, piecemeal manner. Watching an invisible Gorilla slowly transform back to visible, bone by bone, vein by vein, organ by organ was just mesmerising. An effect used now and again in the movie. The plot is laid out pretty bare, consisting of Bacon’s badass attitude and a past romance with Shue character. But as a whole (get it?) it’s interesting enough to be a fun movie.

Hollow Man 2 (2006)
After enjoying Hollow Man so much I was actually really looking forward to the sequel. Yeah, I noticed that this was an all new cast with only Christian Slater as a recognizable name, and yes it IS a sequel so I did not expect it to be as good as the original. But there was still a promise of a decent story akin to the original. Unfortunately the makers of this one pretty much threw out the direction of the first movie along with it everything that made the first exciting and entertaining. For the most part, this movie plays out more like an espionage thriller than a SF/Horror movie. The invisible man here (Slater) was transformed with the help of the military and after being transformed he’s out to get a certain biologist who has some specific information. A detective is ordered to protect the biologist, but he doesn’t know the full story. The little intrigue in the movie is just finding out what the whole story is all about. I don’t want to say that it is really a terrible movie, but compared to the first movie, it is an imminently forgettable and Hollow movie. (The ‘Hollow’ adjective was bound to get thrown out as sequels are spawned. I just hoped that it wouldn’t have to be applied to the very first sequel. Oh well.)


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