FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Nov 16, 2009

The Curious Case of Harry Warden

Over the course of the last day or two, I've spent far more time thinking about Harry Warden of My Bloody Valentine than I probably should have. This may or may not have something to do with my forthcoming AMC column; the fact remains that there's plenty to talk about regarding him outside the confines of said column. Another fact that remains is that there will be plot spoilers for the 1981 film ahead (no talk of the remake here, although I did enjoy it). By now, it should go without saying that, excepting the most current films in theaters, there are almost always spoilers here at your friendly neighborhood FG. Still, I don't want any of you "kids" getting "up" in my "grill" with a "Wait, who has a penis?" or some such. Not that that particular question applies in this case...probably.

Anyway, after all that build up and intro, the bulk of this post may be a disappointment. Maybe there's not plenty to talk about, or much to say...but here goes. Regarding Harry Warden, we know this: he was trapped underground for six weeks following a mine explosion. To survive, he nommed on the bodies of his fallen comrades. When found, Harry was stark raving nutcake and was sent off to a mental hospital to recuperate. A year later, he was out of the hospital. Did he escape, or was he released? Whatever the case, he was still decidedly nutcake- now one of the murderous variety. He killed the two supervisors responsible for the accident in the mine, then...disappeared, warning the town of Valentine Bluffs that should they celebrate the holiday at at any time in the future, he'd be back to make with the kill-kill.

20 years later, the town decides what's past is past and it's time to hold another Valentine's Day dance. When people start dying, it seems that Harry has held true to his promise...eventually, we learn that the killer is really Axel Palmer posing as Harry. When the sheriff calls the sanitarium where Harry had been committed, however, they cannot find any record of him ever staying there...the secretary points out that it could be a clerical error, and she'd have to dig into the microfiche to be sure.

SIDE NOTE: I miss microfiche, particularly in movies. The internet simply isn't as noisy...or as thrilling!

We never get an answer to the question "Where's Harry?" It's a fact that he killed the supervisors a year after he went to the hospital- one of the men was Axel's father, after all, and it was witnessing his dad's murder that made him a murderous nutcake. But...what happened to Harry after that? Legend said he returned to Valentine Bluffs every year to make sure they held no holiday dances; did he live a normal life somewhere else for the other 364 days in the year? Where was he the night the town resumed the festivities? Was he dead? Or, once he had his vengeance on the mine supervisors, did Harry give a big ol' F.U. to the town and split for good, never to think on it again? Wherefore art thou Harry?

That's all. Just wonderin'.


Anonymous said...

Gosh golly-gee, Stacie. Sounds like someone's got a crush! Do you want me to be the one who passes along the "Do you like me? Check yes or no" note?

Stacie Ponder said...

Yes, that's clearly the case, as I obviously could not stop talking about how dreamy he is.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he and Jason Voorhees get together, play dominoes and drink 40s on the porch all day every day....

Christopher said...

Not very exciting, but maybe they were simply hoping that the ambiguity would allow them to set up a sequel more easily?

Anonymous said...

Hi Stacie, I've been reading your awesome blog for well over a year now but never posted a comment before. I feel compelled to delurk myself now because I actually know the answer to this question having rewatched the film last week. (In order to introduce its magical delights to a friend who's never seen it before and now still hasn't because he fell asleep!) The sheriff and TJ have a short conversation at the end of the film where the sheriff mentions the fact that he knows Harry Warden isn't the murderer because he's dead! Someone must have found this information out for him during the course of the film. I think he said that Harry had died a few years ago, probably while he was still in the mental institution. I suppose it was just a clerical error after all. What I really want to know is what happens to Axel after the film ends. He just runs off into the mines having hacked off his own arm!


Stacie Ponder said...

Well, that's what I get for shooting my mouth off without rewatching a movie. What a dope.

Jordy Verrill + Eva Krupp said...

We watched this one a few weeks ago as well..I believe I def. made it obvious how much I like the remake more than the original.

Anonymous said...

Nah, you're not a dope. It was just a throwaway line at the end of the film so it was easy to miss even if you had recently rewatched. I enjoyed reading your musings anyway.


Stacie Ponder said...

Ha, thanks.

Kirk said...

Harry, according to that dance-cancelling, wig-wearing square Chief Newby, "Died five years ago" (circa 1975-76, according to the MBV timeline). I wish that wasn't true because the more Harry is pickin', the more I'm grinnin'. Heh...heh.


As for Axel, I like to think he's STILL OUT THERE, waiting in the shadows of the Hannigar mine...

...on a side note, don't you wish a sequel to MBV was made in, like, 1982-83? I feel the same way about ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK too.

1981 rocked very so hard, didn't it?

Topsyjane said...

Did Harry's release from the loony bin have something to do with the Canadian Health Care System? What is their standard coverage of people-nomming-nutso-cuckoopants-wackos up there? And has adding a third dimension helped or hurt their position? What do YOU think?

BloodPepsi said...

I admire your passion for My Bloody Valentine, Stacie.

A passion so strong that you're able to put a spin on what's essentially lazy storytelling and (an almost-) plot hole*, so that all is excused and seen more as a fascinating element of mystique regarding the greater folklore of the movie.

Don't get me wrong, I like MBV. Just as I do with all the admittedly imperfect horror movies that I "just really like for some reason, dammit!" - I don't make excuses for MBVs flaws, but simply embrace them as part of the movie's inherent "charm".

I too wish there had been a sequel. The one they were obviously hinting at before the credits rolled; the one the studio was hoping would turn MBV into a viable slasher franchise. Maybe the sequel could have had a twist where Harry was revealed to in fact still be alive (DOUBLE clerical error!), regardless of whether or not Axel still was.
It would be so cool to finally make good on the mythology and build up from the first movie, setting the stage for Harry to be the official, marketable super-killer for the series.

Harry Warden (in the rest of the "series") would be to Axel (in "part 1") what Jason Vorhees was (in everything after F13p1 ..except p5, I know.. I know..) to Mrs Vorhees (in the original).**

Alas, only in our (admittedly EXTREMELY geeky) dreams..


* A plot hole avoided only by the throwaway line mentioned above by Sophie.

**Convoluted as it may be, I stand by this statement and it's logic 100%

Stacie Ponder said...

I looooove reading meaning into horror movies where there isn't any- whether it be some sort of Dickensian plot happenings or seeing the film as a metaphor for some philosophical issue- 99.8% of the time, you can be sure the filmmakers didn't intend for it to be that way.

As I recall, there was talk of a MBV sequel for a while, wherein Sarah was supposed to be the sheriff of V Bluffs and the killings were to start again. Maybe that idea was loosely added in the remake...?

Anonymous said...

By the way, the Original MBV hits Blu-Ray next week. For those that care.