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My Bloody Valentine 3D - A New Dimension in Horror
By James Whittington, Wednesday 7th January 2009

The horror film has long played a leading role in the evolution of 3-D cinema and on January 16, My Bloody Valentine 3D becomes the latest horror movie to benefit from this process. The controversial low-budget original gained an enormous cult following when released in 1981, something which shocked even its creators. My Bloody Valentine 3D promises to bring the fear factor to a new level with an immersive and utterly terrifying remake of the ultimate campfire story.

The visceral nature of the horror genre and the format’s immersive effects go together like, well, slashers and scream queens. In fact, the first big hit of the “Golden Age” of 3-D was the classic chiller House of Wax (1953), starring Vincent Price. Audiences were captivated by the film’s stereoscopic visuals and Price’s performance in a role that would make him virtually synonymous with the genre. Perhaps the most significant of this crop of 3-D fright-fests was The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). In the early 1980s, three-dimensional bogeymen stalked mainstream cinemas. Friday the 13th Part III (1982) was loaded with innovative 3­D imagery and hailed for “going past the lens”—an effect in which objects appear to thrust from the screen into the theatre. This slasher sequel nearly doubled the box office of the franchise’s previous instalment and paved the way for major studio releases Jaws 3-D and Amityville 3-D the following year.

“This is the marriage of old school horror mixed with a great story and unbelievable new technology,” says director of MBV 3D Patrick Lussier. “There’s also some good old-fashioned gore. It’s the intersection of so many different things. We’re doing a 3-D movie; we’re doing a slasher film, but it’s much more than that. It requires a new way of looking at storytelling, and it’s a very exciting opportunity.” “When I first experienced 3-D, it was a gimmick,” producer Jack Murray adds. “It got people in the seats because they’d never seen it before. But it wasn’t about storytelling. It was a carnival trick, just a series of opportunities to set up the next moment where something would come out into the audience. That’s not what we’re doing in this film. We’re letting the 3-D fill out the environment we’re working in, and, at the same time, finding those moments where that third dimension makes it even scarier.”

Michael Paseornek, president of Lionsgate and executive producer of My Bloody Valentine 3D, elaborates: “Our film uses traditional techniques with very few special effects, plus dimensional space to place viewers’ attention where the director wants it. It immerses the audience in the environment, as opposed to just throwing effects at them. When you’re thinking about creating an environment of tension, if you’re in it—as opposed to watching it—it’s much scarier. Even down to the fact that when someone shines a flashlight around, it blinds you. And when the Miner (the murderous protagonist of the movie) swings his pickaxe at you, it swipes across you.”

For Lussier, the use of 3-D photography was an intrinsic part of the storytelling. “The feeling of claustrophobia, the feeling of being trapped and the feeling of the horror are all heightened to a point that will take audiences beyond what they have seen before. The 3-D makes them feel even more like they’re part of the story. It envelops them, so they’re not just watching it as a spectator sitting in the front row, they are participating in the horror.”

“Once we knew we wanted to make the movie 3-D, we were fortunate enough to find Paradise,” he continues. “Our stereographer Max Penner allowed us to do things that many 3-D filmmakers said couldn’t be done. We were constantly able to push the envelope because we had real pioneers in the realm of 3-D on our side. Everything was manufactured specifically for My Bloody Valentine 3D and our camera operator, Howard Smith, invented much of the equipment.”  Jensen Ackles, who plays Tom, says there’s one moment he is looking forward to seeing in the theater. “The moment the Miner’s pickaxe first comes right out of the screen is going to be awesome,” says the actor. “I’m going to be just as much of an audience member as everybody else, and I’ll be thrilled to see it.”


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