My Bloody Valentine Week here at Retro Slashers has provided in-depth exploration of the 1981 classic: second-guessing the villain’s identity, filling your head with trivia, waxing nostalgic, contrasting the remake, and going brokeback with the boys of Valentine Bluffs. That’s a lot of love. If you’ve watched the movie for the umpteenth time and realized “it doesn’t get much better than this”, here are two additional titles that show the really red side of romance.
The Prowler (1981)
Before director Joe Zito gave Jason his “final” chapter, he showed us the first and sadly only chapter of this underrated slasher, released in some territories as Rosemary’s Killer. The all-important inciting incident in 1945 involves a WW2 soldier returning home and skewering his ex girfriend and her lover with a pitchfork. Moving on to modern day 35 years later, the first graduation dance since the earlier events trigger’s the slasher’s mania and return to form. For a movie that doesn’t take place on Valentine’s Day, love is a constant motif in the film – for example the rose motif, but primarily in regards to the killer, for whom sour-love has festered and driven him to irrational deeds like murder. He doesn’t have to explain his motives like most slashers do in the climax, as the movie has already laid out all the pieces for us:
The movie is a metaphor for unresolved failed relationships. Being ditched like yesterday’s news wasn’t a flimsy reason for his massacre, it was compounded by several elements that amplified the pain. The soldier was pulled away from his true love to serve his country, something considered at the time honorable to society. Yet it was meaningless to her and used as an excuse to break things off in the worst possible way – a letter meant there was no way he could appeal to her, and then he had to go on fighting nursing his emotional wound. Tramp didn’t even dump him out of love for another as the opening dialogue indicates she just wanted a Truman-era booty call. “I couldn’t help myself” she says – and neither can the soldier help himself from forking her from fucking again. Killing the two didn’t sooth his broken heart at all – so he psychologically boxed his feelings and actions into the surrounding elements of the evening – the locale and the dance. So it’s no surprise that when they hold the first dance ever since, he is mentally back to square one and must kill again and again during the dance, locked in a tragic cycle. Love hurts.
Hospital Massacre (1982)
After the success (?) of New Years Evil, Cannon Films announced in the closing credits that another holiday slasher was on the way – Be My Valentine… Or Else! Pouring all their creative hearts into finding the perfect title, the film that would instead be known as Hospital Massacre and X-Ray (depending on territory) is an exercise in conceded storytelling and pandering to the lowest common denominator. That’s not to say that it’s not enjoyable, as it’s a veritable laundry list of slasher tropes and achieves a dark and drippy mood at times. The requisite childhood trauma takes place on Valentines Day and is loose set-up for a somewhat icy woman (Playboy Playmate Barbi Benton) visiting a hospital for some test results only to be ultimately trapped on upper floor with a loony masquerading as a masked surgeon.
What both bogs the movie down and provides viewers ample smirk fodder are the illogical actions of the supporting characters as they fulfill their roles as overt red-herrings. It was a smart move for the maniac to switch Hottie McHotstuff’s test results in order to complicate her ability to leave quickly, but staff essentially sequester her on medical grounds and much is made of “her” mystery illness shown on an x-ray, an illness we – and impossibly, she – are never given a name for (it looks like the real patient’s intestines have liquified into mush or something, but who knows). And what would her real x-ray reveal, since the reason she needed testing is also never told? The doctors are so upside down with their aversion to giving their patient pertinent information about her body and secret looks that on first viewing I was 100% sure it would turn out she was on the mental ward floor and the inmates had taken over. The unrealistic behavior of professionals is best demonstrated when one of the docs gives Benton’s ample breasts and strange-looking erect nipples a thorough examination. Ah, I concur, doctor.