In my opinion, there is no better way to celebrate the holidays than by binge-watching horror movies. Holiday themed horror movies are awesome all year round, not just on Halloween, and there is a movie for every red-letter day on the calendar. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many will be planning big nights for their lovers with boxes of chocolate, armfuls of flowers and romantic dinners for two. However, I’ll be indulging in wine, delicious cheesy pizza and bloody Valentine’s Day horror movies! Although there’s many to choose from, with the most popular choice being My Bloody Valentine (1981), the big one on my list this year will be 2001’s Valentine.
Although not nearly as popular as some of the other sweetheart-themed horror movies, Warner Bros.’ Valentine happens to be a personal favorite of mine. I grew up in the ‘90s and ‘00s and this was a popular one amongst me and my friends. How could it not be with actors such as David Boreanaz, Denise Richards, Marley Shelton, Jessica Cauffiel, and Katherine Heigl starring in this blood-drenched slasher film? Although each actor has gone on to do other things, Boreanaz and Heigl are probably the most well-known by audiences. Boreanaz has continued on with an excellent career in several TV series, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Bones. Although Heigl’s part in Valentine is short lived, her career on the silver screen has had quite a long run, and she is probably best known for her roles in the comedies Knocked Up (2007) and The Ugly Truth (2009), as well as having a major part on the TV series Grey’s Anatomy.
Released on February 2, 2001, Valentine made over $10 million at the box office during its opening weekend and although not widely popular among mainstream audiences, it deserves recognition among the other holiday horrors. Director Jamie Blanks has a knack for creating fun and mysterious slasher revenge movies like 1998’s Urban Legend (1998). Valentine is loosely based off of a novel with the same name by Tom Savage, while the actual screenplay was written by Donna Powers, Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts. At first, this project had different writers who wrote out another tone completely – even the cast was changed up from Luke Wilson, Tara Reid, Jeremy Sisto and Jennifer Love Hewitt. However, when the project was given to Warner Bros., the production company switched things around and created a darker atmosphere for the movie. Along with the killer cupid revenge script, Don Davis’ score sets the perfect tone for the film, along with a sick soundtrack that includes artists such as Linkin Park, Disturbed, Static-X, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson.
Valentine starts out at a junior high school Valentine’s Day dance. No one will dance with nerdy outcast Jeremy Melton, despite his propositions to pretty girls Paige (Richards), Shelley (Heigl), Lily (Cauffiel) and Kate (Shelton). Using his last ounce of courage, Jeremy asks the girls’ chubby friend, Dorothy (Capshaw), to dance. Feeling like an outcast herself, Dorothy accepts and the two awkward preteens end up making out beneath the bleachers. A group of bullies spot them, forcing a panicking Dorothy to say Jeremy forced himself on her. The boys strip him down and beat him severely. We find out that he was sent away to reform school because of these accusations.
Years later, Shelley leaves a horrible date with a creepy dude named Jason and ends up going to the morgue to do her med school homework. She finds a mysterious, vulgar Valentine’s Day card in her locker and soon after she is pursued by a killer wearing a Cupid’s mask. He slashes her throat and we see the killer’s nose bleeding through the white mask. As the calendar gets closer to February 14th, the other girls also receive similar, awkward Valentine Day cards that are signed “JM,” bringing to mind the name Jeremy Melton, the boy they had tormented so many years ago. Or perhaps it’s one of Paige’s past boyfriends, or Dorothy’s new man toy, Campbell (Daniel Crosgrove), or even Kate’s longtime, loving boyfriend, Adam (Boreanaz)?
Lily becomes the next victim at her boyfriend’s art showing, although her friends don’t realize she’s missing until much later as they though she had flown back to Los Angeles. Freaked out by all the creepy possibilities of who could be stalking them, Dorothy decides to throw a Valentine’s Day party to create a positive atmosphere and to keep everyone together and safe. The Cupid faced killer won’t stop until he has had his revenge, and one by one, the girls are slaughtered. The question remains: who is behind the mask?
Valentine is fun and cheesy and has you guessing the whole time. Of course, who doesn’t love a horror movie where everyone is dying off one by one and you continually have to switch gears to try and figure out who the killer is? I think the filmmakers did a brilliant job with casting each girl, finding the perfect actress to play each horror movie stereotype. Although the acting could have been better, the story still delivers. Most slasher films don’t rely heavily on the acting, but more so the awesome kills and the mystery behind the killer, and that is exactly what Valentine does. I love the fact that the killer wears a Cupid mask and that the film both begins and ends with Valentine’s Day festivities. It sets a perfect tone.
I do realize that there are several other Valentine’s Day horror movies that many would have chosen to watch over this movie. But to those of us who were growing up in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s when horror movies were cheesy and even revenge flicks had a bit of comedy thrown in, Valentine holds a special place in our hearts as a throwback slasher, closer to horror movies made in the ‘80s than at the turn of the century. Therefore, when picking out your movie line up on Valentine’s Day, add this one to the mix and reminisce in this fun, super sticky slasher. Remember, when you open up your box of chocolate, check it first… you never know what could be inside!