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Face-Off: Valentine vs. My Bloody Valentine 2009

The Valentine's Day holiday is coming back around this Friday, and one of the most fun ways to celebrate any holiday is to watch slasher movies set around that date. So for this Face-Off, we're putting two Valentine's Day slashers up against each other: director Jamie Blanks' 2001 film VALENTINE - which Blanks initially turned down when it was offered to him because he thought it was a remake of the 1981 classic MY BLOODY VALENTINE - and director Patrick Lussier's 2009 film MY BLOODY VALENTINE - which actually is a remake of the '81 classic. Both of these brought some slasher entertainment to the first decade of this century, but which did it better?

LETHAL LOVE STORY

Sixth grader Jeremy Melton just wanted to have fun at his school's Valentine's Day dance, but every girl he asked to dance rejected him due to his nerdy looks and demeanor, some of them turning him down quite rudely. Finally one girl did agree to be his Valentine... but when other students saw them together she accused him of assaulting her. So they dumped a bowl of punch on him and beat him up, he was branded a pervert, and he got sent off to reform school. 13 years later, Jeremy Melton seeks revenge by murdering the girls he interacted with at the dance. It's a perfectly simple set-up, classic slasher movie stuff.

The set-up for this could have been a film in itself. Mine owner's son Tom Hanniger makes a mistake that leads to the mine collapsing with workers inside. It comes out that the sole survivor, Harry Warden, killed his co-workers to conserve air. Harry then massacres his way out of the hospital so he can return to the mine and kill some partying teens. He nearly kills Tom before he gets shot and stumbles away. 10 years later Tom comes home to sell the mine and finds that his ex is married to a guy who hated him. Even worse, the murders start up again. Is Harry back, or is there a copycat on the loose?

SLASHER

As Jeremy Melton's life began to fall apart at that school dance, one of the kids watching it all go down was wearing a cherub mask. So when Jeremy embarks on his killing spree, he matches his black outfit with a cherub mask. It's a good look. His demeanor when he's going after his victims is just what you'd expect, he moves deliberately, power walking after people as they run. What makes him unique is the fact that he gets a nosebleed in intense moments, so there's usually blood dripping from the nose of his mask.

This version of MY BLOODY VALENTINE keeps the look established for the killer in the original 1981 film. Wearing a jumpsuit, face concealed by a gas mask, a hard hat with a light on it on top of his head, and usually holding a pickaxe in his hands, The Miner looks badass and effectively creepy. He's usually able to destroy his intended victims without having to get too hyped up, but if someone is running from him The Miner will quicken his step if he really has to. The look and performance are so cool, he deserved a sequel.

STANDOUT SEQUENCE

VALENTINE has a stalk-and-kill sequence set at an art show and builds up to a Valentine's Day party, but the best set piece in the film comes right up front with the first kill. The slasher goes after a girl who works in a morgue and chases her into a room full of gurneys holding corpses that are zipped up in body bags. Knowing his prey is hiding in one of these bags, the slasher walks along the rows of bodies, at first unzipping the bags and then just plunging his knife through them, into the bodies. This sequence is very twisted, and it's the main thing I remember about the movie between viewings.

The greatest part of this movie is the 8 minute sequence that takes place at the Thunderbird Motel. Run by a little person with a French bulldog, this is where The Miner goes after Irene, an old acquaintance of Tom's who's having an affair with a married trucker. Irene is fully nude when we catch up with her and remains fully nude throughout - she argues with the trucker, witnesses people being killed, and is chased by the killer. Fully nude. Irene is played by Betsy Rue, who would run into Michael Myers later this same year, but her Halloween wasn't nearly as amazing as her Valentine's Day.

DEATHS

This movie is rated R, but the studio demanded that the kills be trimmed down. Even after the MPAA had already granted an R, it was the studio who wanted less blood in this slasher movie. So the kills aren't all they could be, but they're still fun. There's a throat slitting, a human becomes an archery target, an iron becomes a bludgeon, there's an axing, some glass to the throat, and - the most fun of all - a scene involving an electric drill and a hot tub.
 

The Miner racks up a lot of kills, and even though he uses his pickaxe almost exclusively there is still an interesting variety to the deaths. One gets the pickaxe in the back of their head and out through their eye socket, another gets lifted off the ground on the pickaxe and smashed into lights in the ceiling, an unlucky fellow gets it hooked through his jaw, etc. The only kill we see performed with a different weapon is when a girl's head is cut in half with a shovel.

HOLIDAY

Not only does this film put a lot of focus on the love lives of its lead characters, it also celebrates the Valentine's Day holiday with a school dance, a large party, and a blind date themed art installation. The killer sends threatening Valentine cards to his intended victims, saying he's going to hurt them through rhyme, and one lucky girl even gets a batch of chocolates that have maggots inside of them.

The Miner likes to tear hearts out, and sometimes a heart ends up in a heart-shaped box of chocolates. One victim is found in a heart-shaped tub. Heart shapes are drawn in blood, a couple characters exchange Valentines, and some locations are decorated for the day. After killing one person, The Miner writes "Be Mine 4Ever" beside their body. In blood, of course. Nobody is in the mood to celebrate, but it's clearly Valentine's Day.

MY BLOODY VALENTINE

I enjoy VALENTINE, it's good entertainment when taken on its own, but it doesn't fare that well when directly compared to MY BLOODY VALENTINE '09. MBV has a more intimidating slasher, has more and better kills, and that Thunderbird Motel sequence is a great moment in horror history. If you watch just one slasher this Valentine's Day... well, if you're only watching one you should make it MY BLOODY VALENTINE 1981. But if you watch two, add '09 into the mix. And if you watch three, welcome VALENTINE to the party.

Do you agree with the outcome of this Face-Off, or do you think VALENTINE should have beaten the MY BLOODY VALENTINE remake? Share your thoughts on these films in the comments section below. If you have any suggestions for future Face-Off articles, send them in to [email protected].

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