My Bloody Valentine (1981)

“My Bloody Valentine” is one of those early ’80s slashers that’s pretty solid on first watch, but gets even better with each new viewing. The small mining town setting is perfect for an isolated slasher like this, not unlike the woods in “Friday the 13th” or the island in Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None,” and the Cape Breton Island shooting location is gorgeous and striking to look at. The characters gain individuality by virtue of their being in a mining town, which has a specific culture and social norms, so it’s interesting to see characters in a slasher movie that are so region-and-industry-specific instead of dumb teenagers, even if they’re occasionally (and irrationally) horny despite the ominous circumstances. The whodunit angle is surprisingly compelling thanks to the impressively layered dynamics among the characters, and the kill scenes are memorably grisy: It’s a weird thing to be complimenting a movie for its visceral appeal, but the gore effects are absolutely stunning and each get progressively more gruesome, which gives the narrative an “anything can happen” vibe. Add in a terrific climax largely set on an impossibly high ladder that becomes a nerve-rattling masterclass in oppressive suspense, and the end result is an above-average ’80s slasher that’s grown in stature over the decades.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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