10 Feb 2016

SLASHER FILM RULES - My Bloody Valentine (1981)

Every genre has rules, but how well do specific films follow the Slasher film rules?

My Bloody Valentine (1981) was a early cheap attempt to cash-in on the success of previous slasher films, but ran into problems with censors.  Although unsuccessful at the time it has become a cult favourite.

The following analysis may contain spoilers for


Rule #1

A Warning Will Come From...

"That night at the dance, they found the boxes, blood dripping out the sides. Inside was a note, a warning from Harry to NEVER hold a Valentine's dance ever again." ~ Happy.

  • The original murders, twenty years earlier and the warning never to hold a Valentine's Day dance again is a fairly major warning.
  • Beside that, the unnamed first victim gets no warning.
  • Mayor Hanniger gets a warning card an a chocolate box with a human heart in it.
  • The barman Happy relates the story of events twenty years earlier and ends with a warning to the young people.
  • Mabel Osbourne, the second victim gets a warning card specifically telling her she's next and that there will be more murders if the dance isn't cancelled.  The dance is cancelled but the authorities keep the murders and warning a secret.
  • The killer warns the sheriff, again, when a hidden party is planned.

There Will Be T&A

"Oh, yeah? I got a valentine for her that she's never gonna forget." ~ Howard Landers
"Right to the heart, huh?" ~ 
"It's gonna be a hot time on Saturday night!" ~ 

  • Nudity - The first victim strips off the top half of her overalls revealing her bra.  The male miners shower together (only seen from the waist up).
  • Sex - The first victim seems to be about to have sex with the killer, but he, you know, kills her.  The male miners in the shower talk about having sex with the local women.  Sylvia with a guy about to have sex when she sent him for more beer.  Mike and Harriet were mid-foreplay when they were killed.

Rule #3

Death Will Be A Punishment For...

"Besides, you gotta see the dress I got.  Cut down to here, slit up to there.  I may not get out alive!" ~ Patty.

The killer in this seems to be emulating the killer from twenty years ago.  The oiginal killer killed two supervisors who'd left early to go to a Valentine's Day dance leaving 5 men to be killed and one man (the original killer) to be trapped).  He specifically got revenge by killing the two supervisors and telling the two never to have a Valentine's Day dance again.  The new killer is the son of one of the supervisors who witnessed the killing and has taken up the original's role.  As such his kills people relating to the party (Mabel as an organiser, the young miners and women at the party), but also a few mostly unrelated people (An unnamed woman he lured into the mine to have sex and Happy the barman).  Once the first few deaths at the party are discovered the killer is the one who tells everyone to go (which they mostly do).

  • 3a.  Sex - Unnamed woman, Sylvia and Mike & Harriet were all about to have sex when they were killed.  Sylvia's partner survives as he's sent to get beer.
  • 3b.  Nudity - No nudity.  The unnamed woman got down to her bra.  Some of the victims were miners who showered together, but that was mostly unrelated.
  • 3c.  Drinking - Most of the miners and party goers drink.  Some of them die.  Many escape at the killer's urging (not knowing he's the killer).
  • 3d.  Drugs - Dave, Howard and Hollis are shown getting high two days before the party.
  • 3e.  Hitchhiking - No hitchhiking occurs.
  • 3f.  Other criminal behaviour - The party's banned, but I wouldn't say criminal.  It's held in the buildings at the mind without the owner's permission (although his son is there and brings keys).  Going into a mine during a party is a massive safety issue.  Happy breaks into the mine buildings for his prank.
  • 3g.  Being annoying/being cowardly/being a sleazy guy - Happy goes from the crazy old porphet to just being annoying with his prank.
  • 3h.  Being a bystander - Mabel as the dance organiser is mostly a bystander transgression-wise.  Apart from being at the mine buildings and in the mine, Patty is mostly a bystander, even her dress isn't as provocative as she describes it.

Rule #4

Never Go...

"That leads to an abandoned part.  We don't go down there anymore." ~ Hollis.

  • 4a.  Basements - A mine has got to be the ultimate basement.  Only one of the six who go into the mine to party survives.  (The unnamed woman is also killed there.)
  • 4b.  Upstairs - No upstairs, but they do unsuccessfully try to climb the ladder.
  • 4c.  Showers - As noted the men shower safely together.  Sylvia is killed in that same shower area, but is scared into it.  John, thinking she's naked and showing (not impaled and dead) follows her in, unbuttoning his shirt, but he finds her body and survives.  If anyone fits this rule, it is John and as noted he wasn't killed.
  • 4d.  Into old sheds or out buildings - The mine buildings count.  Many young partiers go there, only two are killed there.
  • 4e.  Running off to the “safety” of the forest - the blocked off side tunnel at the end is comparable.
  • 4f.  Anywhere alone - Mabel, Happy, Dave, Sylvia, Hollis and Howard are all alone when killed, a full half of the victims.
  • 4g.  Anywhere Remote, Isolated or Confined - Mine buildings and especially the abandoned parts of the mine count.
  • 4h.  Abandoned buildings -  The abandoned part of the mine probably counts as double.

Rule #5
Order of Death...
"Dave is dead!" ~ Axel.
"And Sylvia! Somebody's killed her!" ~ Tommy.
"It's Harry Warden! He's here!" ~ Axel.

  • 5a: First person to appear on screen - The first two people to appear on screen (both masked) are the killer and the first victim.  The victim removes her mask prior to being killed..
  • 5b: Black guy dies first - This is a very white community.
  • 5c.  The Stoner - Dave, Hollis and Howard. smoke and get the munches.  Dave is later killed after saying he has the munchies and goes looking for food.  The other two are killed later.
  • 5d: The Bimbo - Unnamed woman in mine - all we know about her is she was about to have sex with the killer in a mine and has a tattoo on her breast.  She is the first victim.  Sylvia before having sex with John.  Although Harriet is accused, in song, of being a virgin, she is killed while Mike is on top of her.
  • 5e: Nerdy/Funny Guy - Howard, a practical joker (and turns out coward.)  Happy's practical joke barely puts him into this category.
  • 5f: The Macho-Jerk - Dave and Mike, who are mostly after sex.  But most of the miners when they're together act that way.  The supervisors who are killed, too, because they go to a party rather than do their job.
  • 5g.  The Strong Female Character - Mabel, seems weak but it looks like she's the driving force behind getting the dance going again.  She does send the Sheriff a Valentine's card, but that's not too much of a bimbo.    Patty... not much character to go by.  She seems to have a strong relationship with Hollis.  She threatens to wear a slutty dress (but doesn't).  She constantly looking out for Sarah, but does fall to pieces at the end (admittedly after seeing her boyfriend's body.)
  • 5h.  The Protector - TJ, certainly.  And survives.
  • 5i.  The Sensitive Guy - TJ, perhaps over-sensitive.  Hollis seems pretty sensitive, too.
  • 5j.  Children and animals – None.
    5k. The Final Girl - Sarah.  However she remains a weak character protected by the hero.
0.  The two supervisors (one shown in flashback later.)  [F]
1.  Unnamed woman in mine.  [A][D]2.  Mabel Osbourne [G]
3.  Happy [E]
4.  Dave [F]
5.  Sylvia [D]
6.  Mike [F]
7.  Harriet [D]
8.  Hollis [C][I]
9.  Howard Landers [E]
10.  Patty [G]

Rule #6

Especially When They Are Most Needed, The Following Things Cannot Be Relied On…

Son of a bitch must've cut the phone lines!" ~ TJ Hanniger.

  • 6a.  Communication devices - TJ tries to call for help but realises that the killer must have cut the phonelines.
  • 6b.  Lighting problems - The killer smashes the lights in the mine.
  • 6c.  Vehicular Transport - The cars seem to work letting the bulk of the party-goers to escape.  The screeching sound the cars make is a cause for concern, but it doesn't come up in the film.
  • 6d.  Your Own Legs - Sarah falls over near the end.
  • 6e: The Authorities - Sheriff Newby seems mostly incompetitent.  He does an OK job mostly, but seems scared, confused and doesn't know what to do at the end.  His and the mayor's lies do make the problem worse.  He does at least call for and wait for back-up rather than being another random victim.
  • 6f.  Weapons – No one seems to have them, until TJ and his shovel at the end.
  • 60g. Escape routes - The killer smashed the controls for the lift.

      Rule #7

      The Final Girl

      "Axel... why?" ~ Sarah.

      The final kill is, again, Tommy's, but Pam and Reggie get some shots in, especiallt for the portion of the film where Tommy is missing (so he remains a suspect killer)


      • 7a.  Final - Sarah and TJ survive.  TJ seems to have the real final survivor role.
      • 7b.  Girl - Yes, yes she is.
      • 7c.  Boyish - Female name, hair, large breasted.  Wears dresses.  Not boyish.
      • 7d.  Well Drawn - She has to pick between TJ and Axel, but it is played a bit mopey.  Still it's the most a female character gets (and isn't as mopey as TJ.
      • 7e.  Virginal & innocent - Used to date TJ, now dates Axel and kissed TJ and mostly wants to get back with him.  Although probably sexually active is not shown about to have sex with anyone.
      • 7f.  Will be reborn - No really.  The strong and final fight bit is left to TJ.  She does have a weird moment of empathy with the killer at the end, which is almost the opposite.

        Rule #8 

        The Killer has a connection to...

        "Harry.  Harry, I'm coming." ~ Axel. 


        • 8a.  The Location - His father was a supervisor who worked at the mine.
        • 8b.  The Final Girl -  Boyfriend of the final girl.
        • 8c.  The Protector - No real connection.
        • 8d.  The Other Victims - No real connection.
        • 8e.  Feminity - Not really.
        • 8f.  A Specific Look - Overalls, gas mask and miner's helmet.
        • 8g: A specific weapon - A miner pick is his main weapon, with other weapons of opportunity (a pot of boiling water, a water pipe, a drill, nail gun, hanging.)

        Rule #9

        Evil Never Dies...

        "He's alive" ~ Unnamed rescuer.

        • 9a: You always have to kill the bad guy twice - The roof of the mine falls on the killer, but he escapes.
        • 9b: Even then the bad guy lives on - As noted he escapes, he doesn't get killed a second time.
        • 9c: Evil is immortal - The killer survives, but there's no sign he's immortal.  He is mimicking and seems to worship the original killer, so the (now dead) original killer is figuratively immortal.

        Rule #10

        The Sequel Will Be Bigger/More Formulaic

        "Here we go again. How many times is he gonna tell that story?"
        "Oh, let him tell it. I love fairy tales."

        • 10a.  They will follow the rules more -   A sequel was planned but the film wasn't successful enough to warrant one.  There was eventually a remake.
        • 10b.  They will be more formulaic - Early film, but made to follow the success of Halloween and Friday the 13th.
        • 10c.  There will be more T&A - No nudity.
        • 10d.  There will be more and bigger deaths of the victims - Ten deaths in the film, seven before it but only two of them were murders.  The deaths were big enough to have the film heavily censored.
        • 10e.  The killer’s death will be bigger.  Killer doesn't die.  He just has a mine shaft dropped on him and cuts off his own arm.


            • The following rules are followed: 1; 4; 5; 6; 8;
            • The following rules are partially followed: 2; 3; 7; 9; 10.
            • The following rules are not followed:  N/A
            ~ DUG.

            Please do the survey to determine future rule sets.

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