I try to keep it off of my social networking feeds as much as possible, but I am one of those angsty people that absolutely hates Valentine’s Day. Hell, I’ve had a significant other for just about every Valentine’s Day since I was 14, and I still hate it. I’ll spare you all the feminist soap box, but know that I welcome Valentine’s Day the way most people welcome cancer. And I’ve had cancer, so that’s saying something.
I am, however, completely ride or die for Valentine’s Day horror films. Most of my horror comrades will spend sometime this week waxing poetic about MY BLOODY VALENTINE (or the surprisingly not disappointing MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D), and some of the more worldly of the bunch might mention something like LOVER’S LANE or HORROR HOSPITAL, but I’m going to stick my neck out and admit that I genuinely enjoy VALENTINE.
Yes, the one with David Boreanaz and the cherub masked Cupid killer.
SCREAM kickstarted the “self-aware” slasher craze and the late 1990s and early 2000s were littered with slasher films in an attempt to milk some of the teat Wes Craven brought to the masses. (My personal favorite is KOLOBOS, check it out.) 2001 wasn’t exactly a banner year for horror (THIR13EN GHOSTS, BONES, JEEPERS CREEPERS, etc.) so no one really expected much when ads for VALENTINE started popping up. I, however, distinctly remember seeing the trailer plastered all over MTV. Granted, I was 10 years old when the film came out, but I wanted to see this film more than anything. I had to wait until it hit Blockbuster to check it out, but I remember thinking VALENTINE was a hell of a fun movie. Upon a recent revisit, my statement still stands.
First of all, VALENTINE really dives into the mythology of the holiday. While people like to cite MY BLOODY VALENTINE as the best holiday themed horror for Feb. 14th, I’d argue that VALENTINE does a much better job and being a holiday horror film. If MY BLOODY VALENTINE changed its decorations, it could easily fit in with any other holiday. VALENTINE, however, is extremely specific to the holiday. Most of the story is motivated by Valentine’s Day specific actions like secret admirer letter and blind dates. The way we are introduced to our characters are all in reference to the holiday. Guys are shown as scumbags for not caring about their girlfriends near Valentine’s Day, girls are shown as being bitter for not having dates, etc. etc. Had this not been a Valentine’s Day film, the motivations for their characters would have been completely different.
As far as slashers go, VALENTINE isn’t reinventing the wheel or anything, and it doesn’t need to. All of the slashers after SCREAM were trying to do something different (and they pretty much all failed) so when VALENTINE came around as tried and true formulaic slasher, audiences rejected the film. The dialogue is all tongue-in-cheek and each time the revealed killer asked one of the women out on a date, their responses would foreshadow their deaths. I’m sorry, but that’s way more awesome than Jennifer Love Hewitt screaming at the sky in I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. It just doesn’t make sense to me because the humor is exactly the same style as it was in the 1980s, but whereas the cheesy lines in a film like APRIL FOOL’S DAY get laughs, VALENTINE gets a groan. If VALENTINE had come out in 1986 and had a weird score like SLAUGHTER HIGH, I guarantee this film would have been a cult classic. However, since it came out in 2001 and has a bit of that Hollywood gloss slapped on it, people write it off.
Speaking of the soundtrack. Look at this shit:
- “Superbeast” (Porno Holocaust Mix) — Rob Zombie
- “God of the Mind” — Disturbed
- “Love Dump” (Mephisto Odyssey‘s Voodoo Mix) — Static-X
- “Pushing Me Away” — Linkin Park
- “Rx Queen” — Deftones
- “Opticon” — Orgy
- “Valentine’s Day” — Marilyn Manson
- “Filthy Mind” — Amanda Ghost
- “Fall Again” — Professional Murder Music
- “Smartbomb” (BT Mix) — BT
- “Son Song” — Soulfly featuring Sean Lennon
- “Take a Picture” (Hybrid Mix) — Filter
- “Breed” — Snake River Conspiracy
- “1 A.M.” — Beautiful Creatures
THIS IS HILARIOUS AND AWESOME. I’m sorry. It is. I usually roll my eyes whenever horror films have music by bands like Orgy or Marilyn Manson because it feels so uninspired, but this soundtrack is batshit awesome and when you think about it juxtaposed against actresses like Marley Shelton, you have to love it. It’s a Valentine’s Day movie covered in candy and hearts, and it’s playing Filter. That’s hilarious and I want more.
From an acting standpoint, the female ensemble cast is dynamite, (Marley Shelton, Katherine Heigl, Denise Richards, Jessica Capshaw, and Jessica Cauffiel) and all of the male characters are totally replaceable. Do you know how often that happens? Never. Slasher films are almost ALWAYS rich with one-dimensional women (with the exception of a final girl) and sympathetic men, while VALENTINE goes in the complete opposite direction. I can see how the film has a bit of a slut-shame problem (don’t reject a guy or he’ll kill you), but the fact that the film wants us to identify with a group of girls (rather than just a final girl) is definitely worthy of praise. Look, I’m not trying to say VALENTINE is the greatest film ever made or anything, but it definitely deserves more than the 9% rating it holds on Rotten Tomatoes. Director Jamie Blanks has even publicly apologized for the film, and that’s a shame. VALENTINE is a lot of fun and definitely one I think more people should give a chance.
If you think I’m crazy, you should check out Brian Collins’ defense of the film over at Bad Ass Digest. The guy is the only person I know to go on record defending this film…twice.