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Valentine – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

When the Scream Factory Collector’s Edition Blu-ray for the 2001 slasher film Valentine releases on February 12th, it will have been almost 5 years exactly since I wrote my Blu-ray Wishlist piece pleading for the film to come to the format. At the time, Warner Bros sub-licensing seemed an impossible task and the hope was for maybe the Warner Archive Collection to put out a bare bones release. I would have been A-Okay with just that. Patience and time has proven kind as we are getting a super loaded Scream Factory version now. This has proven very exciting and considering the bar set so high with Jamie Blanks’ other slasher offering, Urban Legend, getting a phenomenal release just a few months ago, this one has to deliver in the same fashion.

Film 

Be my Valentine … or else. Broken hearts and other mortal wounds await a cast of contemporary young stars when they play dating-scene veterans dying for love in this humor-laced, twist-filled thriller cleverly directed by Jamie Blanks (Urban Legend) and starring David Boreanaz (Angel, Bones), Denise Richards (Starship Troopers), Marley Shelton (Scream 4, Planet Terror), Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy) and more. Cards, candy and flowers are nice. But for fans of stalker-shocker terror, there’s nothing like a Valentine.

Jamie Blanks’ Valentine is going to hold up and play better than many will remember upon returning to it. It surprisingly fits strongly in today’s social climate than it did back when the film came out. Outside of that, its solid slasher with creative kills and one of the best masks/costumes of the Scream revival era. The film also features a cast that is both nostalgic and still pretty recognizable for audiences. I’ve always thought this was a pretty good addition, and hopefully now some will finally discover it or give it an optimistic second look.

Director Jamie Blanks is a talent that feels like it was never taken full advantage of in the late 90s/early 2000s. Both Valentine and Urban Legend have shown with just his eye, material is elevated to slick level of prestige that has it holding up quite well. His scenes play and feel like something of the slasher hey dey, but look much more expensive and feel handled by a master craftsman. With Valentine, he’s even more creative with kills, delivering a tasteful amount of blood to go with a playfully imaginative death sequences.

While we have a masked killer running around and impaling people with knives, power drills and smashing heads in with irons, there are other horrors on display in the film. Returning to the film, it feels more noticeably relevant today than it did back in 2001. In the #metoo era, this film fully fits the bill. There are normal, terrible horrors that happen in the film that are just a part of the everyday lives of our female group of friends. Almost every gross possible bad situation with a male manages to pop up here. The toxic boyfriend, the authority abusing their power, the creepy guy who thinks he deserves something and much more happen here. There are also the pressures of finding a date on valentine’s day, being alone and being mistreated just because you are promiscuous. Valentine has fascinatingly aged appropriately with the times and takes on a deeper level that’s always been there, but never seemed as up front and appreciated until now.

I’ve long thought that Valentine was a better slasher effort than many give it credit. Sure, some of the research and police-work seems a little helpful to the plot, but its a slasher movie and you have to let it be one. The cast is quite fun and a bit of nostalgic faces and ones that still service us today. This movie is about adults too, rather than high school or college students which gives a bit of a different feel. Everyone is very game for the film, too. It also has the best slasher outfit of the ones invented during this one that rivals Scream’s Ghostface in effectiveness. The template borrows from that of a Terror Train but its one that really works quite well and Blanks is terrific at directing the dread and the kills. Modern times have also allowed the “non-slasher” part of the story rise up and strengthen the overall film as well. I’ve been wanting this film on Blu-ray for a long while now and I have to say this didn’t disappoint.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Valentine’s debut on Blu-ray from Scream Factory boasts a 2K scan of the original film elements supervised and approved by director Jamie Blanks and director of photography Rick Bota. The film looks quite good and filmic, but it does carry that latter half of the 90s sheen that seems to be hard to shake with upgrading the video quality. Valentine doesn’t fare as well as Blanks other film, Urban Legend, did on Blu. But I feel some of that comes from the source and filmstock used. Still, the film features some strong detail and a crisp enough picture that’ll please fans and we should be happy this neglected slasher that came toward the end of the Scream era is getting the care and attention that it is.

Depth:  Unfortunately, this one lands on the more average side in terms of depth of field. There are moments where it impresses, but usually carries a static “decent” look to it. Motion is smooth and cinematic with no really concerning issues of motion blur or jitter.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty stable with a consistent looking deep look to them, avoiding any crushing. There is also a commendable level or detail retention on darker surfaces, fabrics, hair and such. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: The colors of red and blue are true standouts here. Everything else is kinda boringly normal, which is how the times could be and I mean that as a weird compliment. Some of the more rustic or darker corners like the hospital, art gallery or basement of the house tend to look the most rich in bold coloring and detail.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural with a hint of red to them and are consistent from start to finish. This look is apparent probably in the source as the DVD of the film has a similar tone to the skin in it. Facial features are very good in close ups and decent in medium shots, though not giving much beyond that. Dried blood looks rather detailed and impressive on the faces.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Valentine comes with a deceptively lower mixed film where the vocals appear to be a bit focused in the center channel and lighter than the effects and music. That’s bait for turning this one up louder than normal so the big scare stings stick out more and take you by surprise. Its a tactic utilized in a lot of horror films from the 90s and early 2000s, but it works. Despite that intentional design, this is a pretty well layered and clear sounding mix that will do the trick for the film, but won’t set the world on fire either.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer is pretty deep and much louder than the rest of the mix, but not in distracting fashion. Its utilized in good jumps and moments of intensity.

Surround Sound Presentation: I was quite surprised at how well thought out and intricate this track managed to be. It utilizes the rear channels with unique contributions quite frequently and the terrors build in concert with all 5 speakers to craft the intensity of a given chase or kill sequence in the film.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and concise, audible at any given time.

Extras 

Valentine – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster artwork.

Audio Commentary

  • With director Jamie Blanks and filmmaker Don Coscarelli, moderated by author Peter Bracke
  • With director Jamie Blanks

Thrill of the Drill (HD, 9:41) – An interview with actress Denise Richards. She glows about the film and honored to have been in a horror movie to go up with other genre cred staples that she covers. Richards loves doing death scenes and goes into how fun the set was to be on as well as some of her practices and such that she brought to the character. She funnily enough mentions that she didn’t understand the whole speed dating concept at all when shooting that scene and just went with it.

The Final Girl (HD, 13:54) – An interview with actress Marley Shelton. She feels the movie carries ideas and concepts that were ahead of its time in terms of pressing female empowerment social issues and the like. Shelton mentions being a fan of horror and taking a course in college, geeking out on getting a final girl role when she got Valentine. She had a loving chemistry with the cast and Blanks (Was already friends with Capshaw and still great friends with Boreanaz). The speed dating scene is also brought up and reflected upon.

Shot Through the Heart (HD, 23:03) – An interview with actress Jessica Cauffiel. I recognized that this interview was done at the same time she did hers for Urban Legends: Final Cut (Makes sense). She glows a lot about Jamie Blanks (“His heart is so big and wide open”) and how he allowed them to craft their characters and knew the ones he picked had the essence of what was on paper. Like the others, she’s big on the female bonding aspect of the film. You can hear people off camera saying things like “Mhmm” and laughing. Cauffiel definitely does go into good detail of her death scene that she’s pretty proud to have partaken in (“Einstein level horror film mastery”). They have her go through the film’s roster and give her feelings on each person (All good things).

Writing Valentine (HD, 1:04:33) – An interview with co-writers Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts. This is a very long winded and detailed account of the screenplay for the film from its writers who have something to say about everything. It may be long, but the two obviously show a genuine friendship and working relationship and are an absolute ball of fun to hear talk about the many things involved and their modern reactions to viewing the film for the first time since seeing it at the premiere. They wanted to make a movie for women that they could go and see alone and enjoy and Warner Bros really gave them a “purity of purpose” to do so. Again, they also feel that the film was very much ahead of its time and has a surprising amount of material that works better for someone watching it in 2019 than it did for someone when it came out.

Editing Valentine (HD, 27:50)  – An interview with editor Steve Mirkovich. It begins with him discussing his history editing for John Carpenter (Big Trouble In Little China, Prince of Darkness, They Live) and working his way through to where he was when Valentine became his next job. Mirkovich goes over his craft, style and is very educational in his thoughts and comments in the story he has of editing Valentine for Jamie Blanks.

Scoring Valentine (HD, 11:53) – An interview with composer Don Davis. He calls this a good situation for him and was very collaborative with Jamie Blanks, whom he believes wanted to score it himself but had too much on his plate. The whole film was done electronically to sound like an orchestra that he didn’t want to have direct themes, just provide my underlying motifs that show up from time to time. He calls the killer less of a character and more of a situation in terms of his music to surround the cupid with (Doesn’t like referring to it as a “theme”).

Behind-The-Scenes (SD, 1:54:21) – Never-before-seen behind-the-scenes footage from director Jamie Blanks’ personal archive. Shot on the set of Valentine. The clips are presented in chronological order as the film was produced during principal photography and appear in both 4:3 and 16:9 aspects. Interestingly off the bat, it looks as if they began their shoot with the third act of the film. You definitely get a look at the process, the effects and the personalities of those working on the film be it an actor or crew member.

Vintage Featurette (SD, 8:18) – Your typical EPK for the film. Features interviews with the producer, a couple crew guys, Jamie Blanks and our female leads in the film (Shelton, Richards, Capshaw, Cauffiel). Boreanaz does show up later in this.

Press Kit (SD, 17:21) – Extended interviews and behind-the-scenes footage taken from the electronic press kit. The picture quality on the video skyrockets compared to the featured the interviews were used to fill.

Deleted Scenes (SD, 8:40) – VHS source, 4×3 LB. Includes extended kill sequences.

Club Reel Music Video (HD, 2:53) – “Opticon” by Orgy

Teaser Trailer (SD, :40)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:27)

TV Spots (SD, 1:23) – “Why am I surrounded by all this craziness?”

Still Gallery (HD, 4:12)

Easter Egg (HD, 1:06) – Jack Sholder is shown the end of the film and answers as to whether he feels Blanks ripped him off or if he thought it was an homage. You can access this when the cursor is on “Theatrical Trailer” and you press right. A heart with an arrow through it will appear. Is it possible this interview clip comes from a potential future Scream Factory Alone In The Dark Blu-ray? Cross your fingers!

Summary 

Valentine is the forgotten slasher of the Scream-boom that’s better than you probably remember. Scream Factory surely thinks so and have given it one of their most loaded Collector’s Edition releases. The interviews are all fantastic (Even if the off camera people seem to be trying to force some narratives) and the audio/video transfer is rock solid. This is a big, wealthy release that has only a couple slight bummers with bonus material (Mainly in understandably not landing Heigl, Boreanaz and Capshaw for interviews), but nothing to poo poo on the impressive display they do offer. This is an easy recommend and day 1 pick up from me.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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