Hey, folks! I’m back with #20 on my list of The Best Horror Movie Kills of All-Time: Happy plays a trick on himself in the classic Canadian slasher, My Bloody Valentine (1981).
One of the well-worn tropes of horror is the macabre herald known affectionately as “The Harbinger”. This is the character that confronts the protagonists in a bid to warn them of impending doom. They’re ominous, they’re creepy, and their words almost universally fall on deaf ears, mostly because people think they’re crazy, though they seemingly have all the knowledge our main characters actually need. It’s just a matter of presentation because, needless to say, most harbingers don’t have a way with people.
In My Bloody Valentine, the local quack is quaintly named Happy (Jack Van Evera). Happy is essentially Crazy Ralph 2.0. And if you don’t know, Crazy Ralph came into our lives in the original Friday the 13th (1980) and is perhaps the preeminent harbinger. He utters such iconic lines as:
You’re doomed! You’re all doomed!
You’ll never come back again……it’s got a death curse!
Real maître d’ material there.
In MBV, Happy is not only the harbinger, but also the bartender at the local watering hole. A double threat! I find it funny they gave him this profession because it’s a double-whammy. Not only is he morbidly stern (which is why he is ironically named “Happy”, I presume), but he also works in a profession where you have to bullshit for a living. Mix that cocktail up (ehhh?) and you get Happy, a man with a story to tell and a platform to tell it from.
He warns our main characters against throwing a party for Valentine’s Day 20 years after the tragedy in the local mine and subsequent murderous rampage of Harry Warden that all but cancels the lover’s holiday in a town aptly named Valentine Bluffs. What’s more ironic: a dour man named Happy or a town named Valentine Bluffs that can’t celebrate Valentine’s Day? In any case, for 20 years the town has forgotten about their big holiday and for 20 years Harry Warden has lain dormant.
The kill I’m highlighting sees our beloved Happy trying to pull a prank on the partiers who refuse to heed his warning. After plans to resurrect the defunct Valentine’s Day Dance are derailed by multiple fresh murders, people start suspecting Harry Warden is back and not happy that the town has forgotten about his nefarious warning to never hold the V-Day dance ever again.
Our main cast decides to throw caution to the wind, however, and plan a party at the very location where the tragedy occurred so many years ago: the mine. This is where Happy comes in.
Eager to teach those kids a lesson, he goes out to the mine and outfits a dummy to look like Harry Warden, complete with miner’s uniform, gas mask, and pick-axe. The dummy is
placed inside a closed door and rigged to raise the pick-axe when anyone opens the door, thus scaring them into thinking it’s Harry. Happy gets so much delight out of this thing that he repeatedly opens and closes the door just to watch the prop in action, filling him with boyish glee.
But, just as he’s had his fill and starts to head out, he has a moment of pause. He has to get one more look at the classic prank before calling it a night. He opens the door one more time and….SURPRISE! IT’S HARRY WARDEN! For his troubles, Happy gets a pick-axe up through the chin and out through his eye socket.
The reason I wanted to highlight this kill is because I’ve now been able to see the uncut version of the film from the excellent Shout! Factory release this past February. Many of the kills have extended footage, with gore and blood added back into the longer cut.
The unedited version offers a high-def, close-up look at this horrific death and the wonderful practical effects that went into making it happen. The scene takes far longer and we see a bevy of details, including Happy’s eye dangling out of the socket. And then, after murdering him in such a violently grotesque way, Harry Warden drags Happy’s dead body away using the pick-axe that is still embedded in his face. That’s good clean fun right there.
Ok, enjoy the video and check back on Monday to see what #19 is on my list of the Best Horror Movie Kills of All-Time!