The Return of the Mad Miner: CineMacabre screens My Bloody Valentine

Every third Thursday, the fine folks at Rue Morgue Magazine host CineMacabre movie nights, a monthly dose of horror at the Bloor Cinema. At the January installment of the screening series, instead of watching a crazed miner terrorize a small town with a pick-axe, the audience saw something unexpected: a big blank screen (the Bloor lost power in a west side blackout that night).

This Thursday, is the second take. Veteran Canuck filmmaker George Mihalka comes back to Toronto with his cast and crew to present the new re-cut version of his 1981 slasher flick My Bloody Valentine. This is the first time the goriest scenes (chopped out for censors in the original version) will be shown in a theatre.

I asked Dave Alexander, Rue Morgue's Managing Editor, about curating CineMacabre movie nights, and the movie that inspired a 3D remake and a seminal band's name.

Did you initiate the CineMacabre movie nights? If so, how did the screening series come about?

No, Rue Morgue founder Rodrigo Gudino started CineMacabre movie nights in the early 2000s. DVDs were projected at the now-defunct Vatikan bar, with the audience sitting on folding chairs and drinking beer. After a while it got so popular that it was moved to The Bloor. I moved to Toronto from Edmonton in 2004 to take the job as Managing Editor of the magazine, and became more and more involved with the screenings, as I've always been a film guy and really saw a lot of potential for building a loyal audience of horror fans hungry to see stuff on the big screen they wouldn't otherwise get a chance to watch. Eventually I started programming them with Rodrigo, and then took over the gig. Since I've been programming, I've worked hard to get film prints whenever possible and bring in special guests - to make the nights more of an event. Of course, it's not just me that does the work - Rodrigo still instrumental, and we couldn't' do it without our office manager Jessa Sobczuk, who handles all the logistical stuff, such as shipping prints, booking flights for guests, etc. Plus, the rest of the Rue Morgue staff comes to the nights and pitches in, selling merch at our table, tearing tickets and taking photos.

Is it strictly a showcase of classics?

We certainly show a lot of classics, and lately it has been geared more in that direction because the newer titles that I tried to get fell through for various reasons. We show newer titles, as well, as long as it's before they hit DVD. Basically anything is game, as long as it's in the genre. Aside form classics such as Phantasm or Hellraiser, We've done more mainstream stuff (The Descent premiere), foreign titles (the arty serial killer movie H6: Diary of a Serial Killer, the French gore movie Inside), family-friendly titles (Monster Squad, Dark Night of the Scarecrow) and some titles that are more "cult" such as the unintentionally hilarious Pieces and Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare (with star/Canadian rock god Thor in attendance!).

Horror fans are extremely loyal. Do you see a lot of regulars every month?

We are very lucky to have a loyal crowd that gives us so much support. I've noticed that we've been steadily building a larger group of regulars. Because of them, we can take a chance on films that might not be a sure bet, or certainly aren't for every type of horror fan, but they'll give it a chance or at least come for the social aspect of it - discuss the movie over beer afterward.

What stands out for you in the newly restored version of My Bloody Valentine?

Without a doubt the restored gore scenes are the highlight. They're so well done yet so truncated in the theatrical version, due to demands of the ratings board. Had the film been released as it should've been, I have no doubt it would be considered a total slasher classic. Now that you can watch it with these scenes restored, it's a lot more fun, it flows better (both narratively and blood-wise - ha!) and all those ambitious prosthetics - from the corpse in the dryer to the pick-ax through the neck - can be appreciated. Beyond that, director George Mihalka and writers Stephen A. Miller and John Beard paid a lot of attention to presenting compelling characters in an interesting setting. Plus, it's just so damn Canadian - Moosehead beer is practically a character in the movie!

Did you like the recent remake?

Well, the remake suffers from all the things that makes most mainstream horror films so terrible: two-dimensional characters that are better at being pretty than they are at giving a compelling performance, really cheap plot twists, too many computer-generated effects and a script drowning in clichĂŠs. That said, there are a lot worse new school horror movies out there and the 3-D in is pretty effective. Who doesn't want to see maniac miner carnage spilling off the screen? If only there were some 3-D bottles of Moosehead...

What are your favourite horror movies?

Ah, the dreaded question for film geeks. I guess it depends on what hour of the day it is. I like so much stuff all across the genre, that it probably makes more sense to say that horror which doesn't insult my intelligence, has well-developed characters and makes an effort to be original will float my boat. The last new movie that I watched, that really resonated, is J.T. Petty's horror-western The Burrowers. It just came out on DVD (I also showed it for CineMacabre), and I highly recommend it to anyone who appreciate ambitious genre movies that offer a helluva lot more than just boobs and blood.

My Bloody Valentine screens Thursday, May 22nd, 2009, 9:30pm at the Bloor Cinema with cast and crew in attendance.

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