The St Valentine’s Day Massacre(s)

In 2012 for my Valentine’s Day evening film fest, I watched two erotic movies from the Zalman King stable, and I didn’t get laid.

In 2013 I watched two slasher films and I didn’t get killed, so I guess there is some sort of karmic balance to the universe.

My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)

Remake of a ‘classic’ slasher from 1981, and I made the discovery that when you watch films on the TV while wearing 3D glasses, mostly they come out grey with the occasional splash of colour, which hasn’t been my experience at the cinema.

Did I get dud glasses, by any chance?

Ten years ago on Valentine’s Day, the town of Harmony was struck by a double tragedy – a cave in at the local mine, and one of the survivors going on a rampage with his pickaxe, slaughtering over twenty people. And now Tom (the studly Jensen Ackles from Supernatural), who many hold responsible for the disaster at the mine, has come back to Harmony with business to take care of. He plans to sell off the mine, which belonged to his father, even though it will result in most of the town’s men losing their livelihood, and he wants to set things right with Sarah (Jaime King), the girl he left behind and who is now married to Sheriff Axel, once Tom’s friend. And, of course, no sooner has Tom booked into a motel than a big fellow in miner’s gear and wielding a pickaxe starts to bump off the locals in the most ‘aesthetically appealing’ manner possible. Is Tom the killer, or has the infamous Harry Warden risen from his grave?

This is pretty much your standard, by the numbers slasher outing, entertaining enough in its way but never going to be a horror movie classic. There’s the menacing masked killer, who is never phased by bullets and always manages to catch the people who run away from him, even though he never goes any faster than a very determined walk. There’s a surplus of victims, ready and willing to be killed in ways that challenge the SFX department, and at times verging over into the exploitative (Betsy Rue is the victim who puts up the best fight, and I’d be prepared to applaud this example of ‘final girl power’ if not for the fact that she’s entirely naked throughout and you suspect this has more to do with the longevity of her death scene than stamina and resourcefulness). There are some neat plot twists, with plenty of complications in the various tangled relationships and the identity of the killer kept to the very last, when of course we get the obligatory ‘walk away to kill and kill again’ coda. And the identity of the killer is the one seriously weak point of the film for me, in that they go to such extraordinary lengths to keep it a secret that the reveal feels like a cheat.

Valentine (2001)

A young boy is rejected and humiliated by all the hot girls at high school, so when he grows up he sends them horrible Valentine’s Day cards and maggot infested chocolates as a prelude to tracking them down and killing them. His nose bleeds when he’s stressed, so at the end we know who the masked killer is, even though the surviving victim doesn’t have a clue.

This is all pretty naff, the plot nothing more than a pretext for attractive young women to get killed in a variety of unpleasant but not particularly inventive ways, rather like a poor man’s version of Argento in his prime. The worst thing about it was that it starred the man I can’t help thinking of as David Boring Anus, whose range of facial expressions runs from just slapped all the way through to just slapped and back again. His louring presence is like a shroud cast over the whole enterprise. The killings are ridiculously staged and stretch credulity past breaking point, and other things, such as the police detective who comes on to Paige (Denise Richards) don’t make much sense in isolation, causing you to wonder how much of continuity ended up on the cutting room floor. There’s a subtext about how what takes place in your formative years can sour your whole life experience, but they didn’t do anything interesting with it.

I did like the tagline though – ‘Remember that kid everyone ignored on Valentine’s Day? – He remembers you.’

So, the rest of you do anything interesting for Valentine’s Day? Or like any slasher films? Or want to be my Valentine next year?

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