Collins’ Crypt: Seven Horror Films To Watch With Your Valentine

BC reminds us that you can't have a heart without blood.

To me, the best thing about DVDs and Blu-rays is that you can watch them over and over to your heart's content without running the risk of "wearing it out" like a VHS. No matter how well you took care of those black plastic bricks, they would degrade if used "excessively," unlike a disc where as long as you don't scratch it up (nearly impossible with Blu-ray) you can watch it forever and ever. Granted, I don't have the time to watch a movie three or four times in a weekend like I did as a kid, but it's still nice to know I could, and it's something I still think about every year when I grab my DVD of the original My Bloody Valentine.

See, the VHS copy that served me through high school and college was bought from a used store, and it was kind of beat up; the tape had clearly been eaten by a VCR at one point and thus most of the opening sequence (where Harry kills the woman when he spies her heart tattoo) was nearly impossible to actually see. And I watched it a lot (it's my favorite non-franchise slasher), so after a while it got kind of warped to boot - it'd probably be completely unwatchable if I were to dig it up today. So now, around this time of the year when I give it my annual viewing on the special edition DVD, it's not the "restored" gore scenes that make me happy - it's the ability to watch the opening scene without wondering what the hell was happening.

But what if discs DID wear out? I'd think twice about revisiting the film every year, and would instead rotate it with other films that may not be as good (in my opinion) but are perfectly acceptable choices for Valentine's Day viewing. Using that fictional scenario as a guide, I've decided to offer up a few alternate suggestions for you fine folks to watch this year instead of revisiting Harry Warden for the millionth time. You may have seen one or all of these, but the majority of horror fans probably don't make them part of their annual plans for the week. Perhaps that can change!

(in release order)

1. Picnic At Hanging Rock
Peter Weir used to make a lot of genre films, but after the '70s he basically quit, which is a shame because the ones he made were pretty damn interesting, if not always successful. But he hit a home run with this one, a creepy dramatic thriller that has influenced everything from Blair Witch Project to Zodiac. It starts off on Valentine's Day at an all-girls school, focusing on a group of girls who go on a field trip to the eponymous Hanging Rock, a real life location in Australia (its existence, and the period setting, has led many to believe this was based on a true story). Upon arriving at the top of the rock, a few of the girls begin acting strangely and disappear, prompting the real meat of the story - the toll it takes on their parents, the teachers and the school itself (like Zodiac, it's more about the aftermath than the crime itself). Look for a young John Jarratt!

2. X-Ray (aka Hospital Massacre)
I actually just saw this one for the first time myself not too long ago, courtesy of a new Blu-ray from Scream Factory that pairs it with the terrible Schizoid starring Klaus Kinski. As with My Bloody Valentine, the holiday setting isn't really tied into the narrative the way Trick 'r Treat is with Halloween (odd, since the original title was Be My Valentine, OR ELSE), but they give it enough lip service to warrant its placement in the "Holiday Horror" sub-genre. It's not the best slasher of the era, but it's admirably weird in spots, has a great score and stars the gorgeous Barbi Benton in her prime. Plus it starts off with not one but TWO of the cast members from the epic Bloody Birthday, making it a must-see no matter what time of the year it is.

3. Lover's Lane
It's got the flimsiest tie to Valentine's Day of the lot (if you miss the teacher saying so early on, you might miss the connection entirely), but what it lacks in holiday spirit it makes up for in hilariously bad dialogue (my favorite: stumbling across a mysterious body in the road, the hero asks who it is, and the heroine replies "I don't know! Everybody we know is dead!") and a convoluted back-story involving possible affairs AND a legit killer with a hook for a hand stalking the titular locale. Unusual for a post-Scream slasher, it's actually played pretty straight and without any winks at the crowd, but it does borrow Billy Loomis' motive and the multiple killer scenario. Look for Anna Faris in one of her first roles (shot before Scary Movie!) and Chuck's Sarah Lancaster as the obligatory blond bitch character.

4. Valentine
I've written not one but TWO defenses of this film on BAD, so consider this a hat trick. Unlike the others on this list, this one truly does dive into the holiday: it's almost impossible to think of it taking place at any other time of the year. Our quartet of female leads are all desperate to find someone to share the big day with, which not only makes it so they don't notice anything weird is happening, but also provides the movie with a plethora of red herrings (something that would be more fun if pre-release information didn't reveal who the killer was). Plus the killer sends everyone creepy Valentines and his (awesome) mask is that of a cherub. Originally designed as more of a romantic thriller than a slasher, it's certainly not perfect - but nowhere near as bad as its reputation suggests.

5. Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl
Having a party, or just want something a little more exciting? This should fit the bill. I have little patience for these "Robo Fart Ninja" movies, but as they go this one's not too bad. Again, the Valentine's setting isn't exactly prominent, but with the title characters engaging in nearly constant battle (with each other or with the movie's other characters), kabuki science teachers, drops of blood that become weapons and Takashi Shimizu himself making fun of the Ju-On remakes, who the hell will care?

Bonus: Amer
Let's not beat around the bush - this movie can arouse you more than any good porno. As with their more recent (but sadly still unreleased) The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, filmmakers Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani use the language (and, to some degree, the plot) of classic giallo films, but focus nearly all of their attention on the senses: closeups of everything, the intensified sound of a zipper or tightening leather, people touching and rubbing things... you might not know what's going on at times, but you'll definitely have a reaction to it: an amorous one. It has nothing to do with Valentine's Day, but if you're a horror fan that wants to get their date in the mood for something besides movie watching... it will almost certainly yield the desired results more successfully than anything else on here.