That cyclical cinematic fad known as 3D gets back to its gimmicky "gotcha!" roots with My Bloody Valentine 3D, a pick-axe-in-your-eyeball remake of a 1981 horror classic. No cartoon cuddliness in this 3D outing: It's a hand-drips-blood-in-your-lap exploitation picture that will remind anyone who has seen the original 3D fad films of those flaming arrows and other stuff that leapt off the screen at folks sitting in the dark with silly glasses.
The glasses are less silly, but Bloody is a generally graceless outing, lacking the subtlety or horror foreplay of the original. Editor-turned-director Patrick Lussier (White Noise 2) treats the multi-writer script as an afterthought and jumps straight into the mayhem as he recreates the mining disaster that gave us the miner-mass murderer Harry Warden "10 years before." A brisk opening shows us the mine owner's son Tom (Jensen Ackles), whose blunder caused a cave-in; the single comatose miner rescued six days later; and the awful realization that his fellow victims didn't die of asphyxiation or the crush of earth. They were killed by a guy who didn't want them using up his oxygen, a guy who awakes from his coma and wipes out the hospital for good measure, then butchers teenagers who pay tribute to their fallen towns folk by going underground for some serious partying.
Cut to 10 years later and the town of Harmony is trying to get through one Valentine's Day without commemorating the massacre by the man in the oxygen mask.
Kids who learned to get over their yen for subterranean sex by surviving a group grope in the tunnels back in the day are now the adults running Harmony.
The jerk-jock Axel (Kerr Smith) has become sheriff. He has married the fetching Sarah (Jaime King), Tom's ex, and is cheating on her with Sarah's cashier at the family supermarket. (Megan, played by Megan Boone, reminds us that things other than pick axes leap off the screen in 3D films.) Tom returns to town to sell his daddy's mine, earning the ire of the locals (Kevin Tighe, of the mining-labor strife classic Matewan among them). No sooner does Tom show up than the dead Harry Warden -- or an impersonator -- starts pick-axing people, ripping their hearts out and sending them in heart-shaped boxes meant for Valentine's Day candy.
The plot staggers from absurd to ridiculous, and the dialogue is strictly of the "Look we don't have to go down there" variety. But Lussier gives us a few good "gotchas." A chase through the supermarket is top-drawer tense, and a few of the fights (most of the time people just run) have nerve.
Lussier's chief contribution to the Bloody legacy is in the sex. The original wasn't exactly chaste, with its opening image of a pick axe plunging through a topless teen's heart-shaped breast tattoo.
Here, the money shot is provided by a very naked, funny and plucky survivor of the original teens-in-mine massacre, Irene. Character actress Betsy Rue gives her all, and shows her all, in a cheap hotel showdown that begins with unbridled sex. (She stares at the mirror on the ceiling, mid-act, and gloats, "God, I look hot!") Then the guy with the mining gear shows up and spoils her R-rated fun.
We don't have enough time with any character to wish them well in the face of certain death. We don't have more than a few minutes' doubt who the killer is, as likely "copycats" are pick-axed-off, one by one.
But if horror in general is the last great communal movie experience, 3D just heightens the shared fun. If you thought people talked back to the screen when the butchery was 2D, wait until somebody has a reason to duck. Wait until someone makes a good 3D horror film (more are on the way) and a Quarantine 3D, a Hostel 3D, or -- here's a million-dollar idea -- a Murder at the Multiplex 3D. You can't text and Twitter with RealDÖ glasses on and brain matter spattering all over your Redenbacher's.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun