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STUPID CUPID MISSES MARK IN 'VALENTINE'

For your next trivia contest: The first low-budget holiday slasher movie wasn't John Carpenter's "Halloween" in 1975. It only seems that way. The first one was that lovable Canadian Christmas number by Theodore Gershuny, "Silent Night, Bloody Night." Carpenter's "Halloween" came two years later.

It was made for a buck and a quarter and grossed zillions, so for the next decade or so we had cheapo, hugely successful teen-scream slasher movies commemorating just about every holiday except Ramadan and Shavuoth.

"Valentine" isn't even the first time around for a mad and vengeful movie impaler ruining everyone Valentine's Day. Al Capone, of course, made the day extremely unpleasant for Bugs Moran in 1929, but the first movie slaughterhouse in honor of Valentine's Day was 1981's immortal "My Bloody Valentine." It starred no one, was directed by no one and had nothing really to offer anyone's memory but heart-shaped chocolate boxes stuffed with real hearts.

Which brings us to "Valentine," the newest teen-scream rubbish. It's not quite up to the standard of "My Bloody Valentine" so, of course, it will make a fortune. It's about Jeremy, the most unpopular kid at the sixth grade Valentine's Day dance who grows up to have serious anger management issues. Back in sixth grade, the boys called him "pervert" and the girls refused to dance with him - all except the chubby one whom the boys delicately refer to as "Buffalo." When "Pervert" and "Buffalo" are caught making out under the bleachers, she claimed it was rape and poor Jeremy was sent to reform school.

After that, it's just a narrative hop, skip and jump right to the asylum. Thirteen years later, our boy "Pervert" is running around in a Cupid mask turning his old classmates (mostly female) into sashimi.

Well, yeah, but who is Jeremy now? Is he the Yuppie named Jason (a la the maniac in the hockey mask from the "Friday the 13th" movies) who refers to himself in the third person on dates and impresses them with spinach in his teeth? Is it the "artist" who's into threesomes but whose soft-core porn installations impress no one? Is it the reporter boyfriend of one of the frightened young women who's now on the wagon?

The stars of this thing are gorgeous, high-gloss Denise Richards, who is often seen on Jay Leno inveighing against germs and other icky things that invade a starlet's life, and David Boreanaz, the hunk son of Ch. 7's old "Rocketship 7" host Dave Thomas. The director is Jamie Blanks, previously known for the teen screamer "Urban Legends." His last name is nothing if not apt.

There actually used to be a point in seeing these things. They were where entry-level filmmakers would show off a bit. Well, not anymore. There is nothing of interest here. And that includes the ending which, I swear, I called about halfway through the movie. (Hint: Always look at the ratio of star salary to screen time. If it's way out of whack throughout the movie, you can almost always figure out who the killer is. It's the one in most need of a big, dramatic finale.)

Victims here bite the dust in a morgue, an art gallery, a hot tub and assorted other places, none of them original. Victim No. 5, I must say, took a good shot at killer Cupid with a pool cue but, of course, she immediately dropped it and ran away. Me, I might have held on to it for further use. But then this is the kind of movie where the investigating cop says, "I'll be right there" when all the slaughters are going down in Murder Manse and then seems to take the Freeway to Tierra Del Fuego instead.

Rather terrible, all in all. And if you think it's going to stop movie teens from being killed next Arbor Day, you're crazy.

REVIEW

Valentine

Rating: *

Denise Richards and David Boreanaz in Valentine's Day slasher movie. Directed by Jamie Blanks.

Rated R for strong horror violence, some sexuality, language.

Playing in area theaters.

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