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The F*cking Black Sheep: Valentine (2001)

02.15.2018by: Jake Dee

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

“Roses are red, violets are blue. Noses are bled, violence is true.”

VALENTINE (2001)

DIRECTED BY JAMIE BLANKS

Yes friends, this is my halfhearted defensive ode to the one slasher film every single horror fan on planet Earth has flat out panned, drubbed, lambasted, ridiculed and left for mother*cking dead since its release in 2001. Yes, I’m referencing VALENTINE, the insipidly asinine stalk-and-slash revenge tale of jilted childhood love. Guess what though. However ludicrous, despite the impressively dopey dialogue even for a horror flick, the risibly awful performances all around, the rote and cliché-ridden slasher by-numbers structure, I must admit to you all here and now. I don’t hate VALENTINE. Not at all. In fact, when I saw it for the first time as a 17 year old or so, buzzed and stoned with friends (naturally), I actually thought it was a lot of fun. Now, let’s not get it twisted, I knew even then it was a glaringly bad movie. But damn if it wasn’t consistently entertaining, populated with gorgeous gals, littered with a bevy of inventive death modes, and in the end, effectively punctuated its ending with wickedly knotty whodunit. Or at least a cheeky attempt. What’s not to love?!

That’s right you guys (and gals), I honestly believe VALENTINE has garnered way too much unwarranted hatred over the past decade and a half. It’s a bona fide F*cking Black Sheep of a post-SCREAM slasher flick deserving of more love, and if you still don’t agree, let us count the ways below. Happy belated VALENTINE’s day!

The movie was helmed by Aussie director Jamie Blanks (URBAN LEGEND, NATURE’S GRAVE), who actually won the directing gig on the former film after cutting a 10 minute trailer for I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER in 1997. It would seem clear then the kind of environment Blanks found himself in from the moment his career began. He was in that late 90s-early aughts, oversaturation of weekly post-SCREAM slasher flicks we were all sick and tired of after a certain point. Adapted by Wayne and Donna Powers (DEEP BLUE SEA, THE ITALIAN JOB) from the Tom Savage novel, and given a $10 million budget and wide release by Warner Bros. – the story of VALENTINE is a simple one. Years after a nerdy classmate named gets rejected by a harem of young hotties, someone with the same initials (JM) in a cherubic-faced Cupid mask is systematically stalking and slaying to death every teeny-mean-girl who slighted him back in the day. See, this movie was touching on bullying over a decade before it was the huge deal it is today (yes, tongue in cheek).

The first thing VALENTINE gets right? The swift dismissal of Katherine Heigl! F*ck yes! Not only is she victimized first and foremost, the killer raking a large butcher knife across her thorax inside a morgue, it happens within the first few minutes of the film. I think we owe Blanks a heartfelt thanks! Further gratitude ought to be extended for the sexy cast he rounded up, including Denise Richards in her prime as Paige Prescott and the ever gorgeous Marley Shelton as Kate Davis. Kate Capshaw’s daughter Jessica, as well as Jessica Cauffiel, Heddy Burress and Benita Ha round out the roster of nubile heat in the film. When you’re 17, trust me, this doesn’t go unnoticed. Even more glorious in this regard, since every person in the film is beautiful to look at but so vapidly unlikable at the same time, rooting for them to get their gory comeuppance is not out of line. In fact, it’s what makes the movie fun!

Speaking of fun, let’s get into the specific kills. After all, what else does one look for in a slasher flick? Are you really looking to be involved in a well-drawn plot? Stop, have you seen HALLOWEEN? Paper thin plot at best. No, we watch slasher films to see unlikable teenagers get gorily waylaid, one by one, in wildly imaginative ways. It wasn’t until SCREAM reinvented the subgenre and breathed new life into a tired plot structure that we began appreciating how slasher flicks told their stories. So when VALENTINE came and threw all that out the window in favor of harking back to square one, many detested it. But again, these death scenes…

Not only is there an array of different deaths, the arsenal of weaponry is just as varied. Following the aforementioned butcher blade to Heigl’s throat, we’re given a gnarly archery lesson by our masked up murderer, as he follows Lily through a neon-lit art gallery (to some really terrible 2001 metal), shoots a sharpened arrow plum through her naval, then another into her abdomen, and just as she stumbles backwards gasping for breath, a third arrow is fired right into her chest-bone, sending her flying over a railing and plummeting two stories down into a garbage dumpster. That’s three arrows, one kill!

Next up is some poor bastard named Gary. Who is he? Who cares. All we know is that when he somehow manages to cross paths with our sporadically bloody-nosed killer, Gary catches clothes-iron to the face, bloodying his own mouth, before getting the hot iron pressed to his cheek. Not done, the killer then repeatedly bludgeons the f*cker to death with the iron in a way that would make Vorhees in the barn in Part 3 proud. For real!

Moving along, bitchy Ruthie gets a long, drawn out death scene that does a decent job of mounting suspense. After a three minute saunter through the death house, the poor gal is tossed through a glass shower door, which leaves two giant shards jutting out from the base. We can tell what the killer intends from there, but it’s still damn beauteous to see. Yup, he crams Ruthie’s pretty little head squarely down on the large glass shards, severing her carotid artery and leaving her to bleed out. And it isn’t cutaway from. We see it all!

Easily the best and most memorable death in film comes when Paige’s sexy ass is drilled in a hot-tub. Literally. You know the score. Ditching the party to enjoy a solitary soak, Paige is greeted by a valentine card and red rose, thinking she’s in for a treat. Uh uh. The masked man appears with a giant electric drill, locks Paige inside the Jacuzzi, drills holes atop the transparent tub-cover so she can breathe. After scaring her to near death, JM gouges gory chunks out of Paige’s body with the drill, but instead of killing her in that fashion, he simply tosses the plugged-in drill into the tub, which makes poor Paige electrocute to death in a huge pool of her own blood. F*cking heavenly!

Skipping ahead to the end, we’d be remiss to mention David Boreanaz as Adam. We all knew he had at least something to do with the sinister shenanigans in the film, but the ending sort of throws us for a loop. The nose-bleeding mystery is addressed in a pretty satisfying, albeit pretty cheesy, way in the end. But for a split second we’re lead to believe it was Dorothy who was the killer, a belief carried out by our final girl Kate. The truth? Adam knew he was about to be discovered, so he put the mask on the already dead Dorothy, hurled her down the stairs after Kate and made it look like she was the guilty one. That’s some deceptive shite going on there, and I’m not mad at it.

As you can see on the whole, I’m not mad at VALENTINE at all. It’s entertainingly fun despite being ridiculously dumb. Most importantly, it’s far better than it was credited for in 2001. I mean, an 18/100 Metacritic score? Seriously? For context, recent stinkers like THE DARKNESS (27/100), INCARNATE (30/100), THE BYE-BYE MAN (37/100), THE 5TH WAVE (33/100) and perhaps most telling, THE ASSIGNMENT (34/100) all rank far favorably to VALENTINE. There’s just no f*cking way!

STREAM VALENTINE HERE

GET VALENTINE ON DVD HERE

Extra Tidbit: Have you any love for VALENTINE?
Source: AITH

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