VALENTINE: Lesser Known Holiday Slashers – Roundtable Reviews [Two Cents]

Two Cents is a Cinapse original column akin to a book club for films. The Cinapse team curates the series and contribute their “two cents” using a maximum of 200-400 words. Guest contributors and comments are encouraged, as are suggestions for future picks. Join us as we share our two cents on films we love, films we are curious about, and films we believe merit some discussion. Would you like to be a guest contributor or programmer for an upcoming Two Cents entry? Simply watch along with us and/or send your pitches or 200-400 word reviews to [email protected].

The Pick: Valentine (Lesser known holiday slashers theme)

When I suggested we watch 2001’s Valentine to celebrate this year’s holiday Two Cents style , Ed decided we would dedicate a whole month to celebrate and discover some of the best lesser-known holiday themed slashers! Everyone’s heard of Halloween and there are several other big horror classic surrounding a variety of holidays. But we decided to look at some of the titles that focused on holiday seasons without the same following and popularity. Join us in discovering some of these titles together as part of our weekly Two Cents movie club.

Featured Guest

Brad Milne

It has been about twenty years between watches of Valentine for me. I remembered it barely, and after this rewatch it made me remember why it had been so long.

Valentine opens with a flashback, where we see Jeremy who begins the film as a zero, then turns to a hero. We see the cruelty of teenagers, each of his initial junior high crushes turning him down in quick succession. Finally young Dorothy accepts his request for a dance which leads to the pair fooling around under the bleachers. Of course, when confronted by the cool clique young Dorothy turns on Jeremy and leads the bullies in ridiculing and humiliating poor Jeremy, for the sin of being a socially awkward loser.

The first kill of the film is probably my favourite of the bunch. After the opening credits scene, when Jeremy’s ritual humiliation is completed, the movie cuts to Katherine Heigl who plays a grown up version of Shelley to turn down his advances. She is on a date with a self obsessed and slightly delusional paramour who refers to himself in the third person and is assured of his own importance. Of course, Heigl’s Shelly wants nothing to do with the creep. Her death isn’t particularly inventive or creative the hiding in a body bag on Heigl’s part was kind of clever. It’s a quick kill not particularly gory but it sets the tone for the rest of the film, and at least leads the viewer to continue watching.

(@BradMilne79 on X)

The Team

Ed Travis

I missed this one on its initial release and had no real intention of ever catching it except for the full-throated recommendation from our own Justin Harlan. Valentine didn’t change my life by any stretch, but I had a pretty good time with this slasher. For one thing the cupid mask, complete with a signature nosebleed upon each kill, was iconic. It’s sad that mask didn’t get to become part of a franchise killer scenario and used over and over again. It’s that creepy and cool.

The script throws as many requisite red herrings in as possible for who the killer might be (though apparently at the time of release the press had spoiled who the killer was so lots of people already knew). Watching this all these years later, I came in knowing next to nothing so it was fun to guess along with the film as to who the cupid killer might be. Valentine coming along in 2001 is an interesting time for a slasher title as it’s very clearly coming out in a post-Scream era but several years after the fact, so we’ve already gotten our fill of “meta-style” slashers and this one is a bit more of an homage to the original wave with more in common with titles like Carrie or Prom Night or others of that ilk.

(@Ed_Travis on X)

Eddie Strait

As someone with an infinite appetite for post-Scream slashers I was pretty excited to revisit Jamie Blank’s Valentine. For the last 20 years my only lasting memory of Valentine is that I saw it on a date way back during its opening weekend. Neither the movie or date left a strong lasting impression. Now that the movie is fresh in my mind, I can see why I didn’t remember much about the movie and why there was not a second date. There are no two ways around it, Valentine is terrible. The film is marred by a dreadful script that frequently aims for humor but does such a porous job setting up its characters and punchlines that absolutely every joke is a dud. If a film could have flop sweat then my TV would’ve been glistening. When bad writing meets treacherous acting, the results are downright gob smacking. Every male actor in this thing is terrible to the point where I was embarrassed to watch some of these scenes, and I was watching alone in my living room. It’s hard to tell who is giving the worst performance when the contenders are this strong. There’s the guy who only refers to himself in third person, the one who speaks is hushed, creepy rhymes, the noodle-brained detective, and the “wax it” frat guy. Each actor plays one note at the most annoying pitch possible. But I think David Boreanaz has to take the crown with a somnambulant turn that is as obvious as it is bland.

Credit where it’s due, I think Denise Richards and Marley Shelton are doing yeoman’s work. I wasn’t always buying what they were selling, but I think they acquit themselves well. In a movie where nearly every choice didn’t work for me, they were the bright lights.  

That said, do I think I’ll watch Valentine again in my lifetime? Give me another couple decades and maybe.

(@eddie_strait on X)

Justin Harlan

Well, I’m glad I picked one that was able to bring Ed aboard, but I fully understand why others may not be in love with this gem that I rewatch yearly and have for the past decade. While I don’t recall seeing it when it released, I’ve been enjoying its stellar soundtrack ever since my wife and I moved in together and blended together our CD collections (a long lost coupling ritual lost in the streaming age). When looking for something to watch on a cold February night about 10-12 years ago, I finally watched the film and have watched nearly every year since.

As Ed notes, the mask of the slasher villain is iconic and deserves to be revered as one of the most iconic in modern slasher history. It’s thoroughly creepy and genuinely hits a nerve whenever it appears in the film.

Yet, for me, my love for it likely comes down to exactly what Eddie seems to dislike… it’s 100% a standard post-Scream teen slasher cycle film. But that cycle, from the late 90s through the early 00s is such a comforting era for me. Perhaps it’s more nostalgia than quality, but I love watching these films, even the legitimately crappy ones – of which, I don’t consider this one of. I think the formula of slasher film that this cycle represents is very much influenced by Scooby-Doo, which I grew up on. The Scooby style reveals and red herrings are plentiful within the cycle, and – as noted above – Valentine is full of them.

Blame nostalgia, blame Scooby, or blame whaever you wish… but Justin loves Valentine and Justin will not apologize.

(@thepaintedman on X)

Upcoming Picks: Lesser Known Holiday Slashers! (Click for streaming/digital options)

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