Welcome to Commentary Commentary, our long-running series of articles exploring the things we can learn from the most interesting filmmaker commentaries available on DVD and Blu-ray.
It’s Valentine’s Day (unless you’re reading this after February 14th in which case you can ignore this sentence), so picking this week’s Commentary was something of a no-brainer. 1981’s My Bloody Valentine is a solid little Canadian slasher with a memorable killer, but 2009’s remake ups the ante on the visual front at every turn with gory kills, an unusually long nude scene, and 3D shenanigans. It’s a fun watch and worth revisiting for Valentine’s Day.
Keep reading to see what I heard on the My Bloody Valentine 3D commentary.
My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)
Commentators: Patrick Lussier (director) and Todd Farmer (co-writer/actor)
1. Farmer introduces himself as having written “part of this movie,” to which Lussier replies “you wrote all the best parts of this movie.”
2. The opening newspaper intro offers backstory in an interesting, 3D way, but it also offered the opportunity to toss in names of friends and family including Farmer’s wife Melanie and Lussier’s son Devin. Farmer jokingly laments how fast the newspapers move across the screen knowing how long it took him to write the copy.
3. The film was shot just north of Pittsburgh, PA.
4. They actually shot Harry Warden (Richard Walters) attacking the nurse in the opening hospital scene but decided it works better simply seeing him rise from the hospital bed. Plus the next scene shows an abundance of carnage in the hospital’s hallways, so it wasn’t needed.
5. It was suggested to Lussier by author Tom Piccirilli that Tom Atkins should play a role in the film, and conveniently, Atkins lived in Pittsburgh at the time of production. Once he agreed the role of Sheriff Burke was beefed up and given a longer life before finally catching the wrong end of Harry’s axe.
6. The hospital slaughter was filmed in a real hospital, but while they received approval to put blood on the walls for the shoot “I don’t think they understood quite how much we were going to do.” Hospital staff arrived the next morning only to respond with “what the fuck happened here?” They apparently had to bring in an actual crime scene clean-up crew to erase it all. “They thought it was quite funny as the blood is made with maple syrup and has this smell of a pancake house from hell.”
7. The studio (Lionsgate) expressed doubts over the effectiveness of the first “scare” as they didn’t see how hitting someone in the back of the head would matter in 3D. Lussier suggested they wait until they see it as he had a 3D component planned. Tom Jane watched it the night before the commentary was recorded, and “he just screamed, just screamed.”
8. The shovel gag was Lussier’s idea, and they’re all understandably proud of it.
9. The moment where the miner is shot and his blood splashes onto Tom’s (Jensen Ackles) face is where the “passing of insanity” occurs turning Tom into the film’s killer.
10. The moment that comes on most commentaries hits here at 14:38 as Lussier warns listeners are about to have “everything spoiled for you.”
11. There’s a shout-out to the Dowdle Brothers (The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Quarantine) at 21:15 with the mortuary box of Tom’s father’s remains.
12. The dog belongs to one of the marketing heads for Lionsgate. “He performed beautifully.”
13. Farmer did not write the infamous sex scene for himself. Instead, it was Lussier who came to Farmer suggesting that it would be a difficult scene to shoot and that he needed someone who he could trust in the role. “You played me,” says Farmer, and Lussier agrees.
14. Lussier praises Betsy Rue‘s natural, comfortable performance as the naked girl in the motel saying “In the beginning you’re like ‘holy shit that girl’s naked, she’s still naked’ but by the end of her sequence you’ve forgotten that she’s naked, because she just completely seduces you into the world of terror she’s creating.”
15. The trailer features Rue running across the parking lot in a bra and underwear, but they were added digitally just for the marketing. The high-heeled shoes she’s wearing, though, are real and actually belong to her. Farmer had written the scene with her wearing Uggs.
16. Sarah’s (Jaime King) son is played by her actual nephew.
17. There are numerous clues throughout as to the killer’s identity, but the biggest arrive during the scene where Tom is locked in the cage. There’s a gas mask, a pick head and handle, and then the dead giveaway as we get the two shot featuring Tom and the miner almost as mirror reflections on either side of the cage at 42:53.
18. The hatch in the woods that leads down into the mine is based on real escape hatches and is in no way an homage to Lost.
19. The door to the mine wouldn’t stay closed, so they just wrote it into the scene at 53:45. It works beautifully as a suspense beat but also as a nod to Tom’s psyche creaking open.
20. Harry’s miner mask is actually a Russian gas mask.
21. They filmed in real mines with ceilings typically maxing out around six feet high.
22. Lussier acknowledges the possible “flaw” of having Sarah hit the alarm button only after the miner takes Megan (Megan Boone). It’s a legit gripe, but it’s a minor one in the scheme of things knowing that she was panicked at the thought of a killer swinging a pick axe towards her.
23. No, that’s not Megan’s unborn fetus in the candy box between her dead and bloodied legs. It’s her heart. “We’re not that bad.”
24. Farmer’s second cameo is voice-only as part of the cartoon that Sarah’s son is watching. The brief glimpse of the cartoon is public domain animation as no “real” cartoon would sign off on appearing in the film.
25. The fight between Tom and Axel (Kerr Smith) was done without any stunt guys or stand-ins. “The stunt guys just weren’t as good fighters as Jensen and Kerr.”
26. They had shot the miner coming down the tunnel smashing the light bulbs specifically for the trailer as they of course couldn’t show Tom doing it in the marketing, but when Lussier was editing he had the cool idea to edit flashes of the miner into the action. It looks terrific.
27. The post-credits shot of the miner looking down toward the camera and swinging the axe was shot for an alternate ending where Tom lays trapped in the rubble and looks up to see the approaching miner.
Best in Context-Free Commentary
“The killer’s hidden in plain sight the entire time.”
“You have to watch the movie six times before you notice I’m naked.”
“Tom has the ability to be a major dick.”
“Oh my god the cute guy’s crazy.”
Buy My Bloody Valentine 3D on Blu-ray from Amazon.
My Bloody Valentine 3D is a fun slasher romp, and the commentary offers both information and anecdotes. Lussier and Farmer are clear fans of the genre and engaging speakers on the film’s production and their overall enthusiasm for horror.
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