Saturday, February 14, 2009


Good evening, darlings, and thank you for reading. Someone once asked me if it is possible for vampires to love; the answer is yes, often to our detriment. We unlive for so long (vampire hunters, crazed priests, and foolhardy heroic souls notwithstanding) that we often lose those we love to simple mortality, or because they resent our rather flawed eternal youth. Such is the reason I have refused to sire anyone; a vampire's immortality is not worth the price. That being said, I do believe very strongly in love, and understand its necessity in the world.

Valentine's Day, however, is entirely another story. I would sooner give an over-the-top Arbor Day celebration than waste one moment on this truly miserable and wretched holiday, which serves not only to line the coffers of candy makers, greeting card sellers and flower merchants but also tears love from its lofty pedestal and reduces it to a miserable, crippled, blind animal crawling on all fours. Worse yet, it strips the spontaneity and joy of love away and places would-be and longstanding lovers in horrid thrall to one another, viciously pressuring them to make everything just exactly right, or else all is lost. But Valentine's Day reserves a special hell for those who are alone, forcing them to experience the cruelty and misery of watching those happy couples in celebration, look in vain for their own significant other, and feel the twist in the heart at finding no one there.

As you can see, I feel very strongly about this.

However, much of the traditional wretchedness of this annoying season has been dulled somewhat by the
movement in recent years of like-minded friends (i.e. Valentine's Day Scrooges such as myself) gathering to celebrate their own friendship for the day, and if you are inclined to watch a movie, I present here a number of cinematic pleasures for Valentine's Day, with our own special monstrous flavor. (As it were.)

First up is a pair of traditional favorites recommended by my Grrl-friend and colleague Frankie Franken, The Bride Of Frankenstein from Universal Pictures and Hammer Studios' Frankenstein Created Woman. While neither are love stories per se, TBOF does look into the theme of the Creature's longing for acceptance and a friend. Of course, love is fickle, as the eventually created Bride spurns the Creature, leading to her own destruction at the hands of same. (Sometimes love hurts.) Frankenstein Created Woman is another chapter from Hammer's Dr. Frankenstein cycle, in which the good doctor (Peter Cushing) revives a disfigured woman named Christine (Susan Denberg) and transfers the soul of her wrongfully murdered lover Hans (Robert Morris) into her body. The resuscistated Christine/Hans, of course, immediately takes revenge on their murderers. I can also recommend 1985's The Bride, which eschews James Whale's ham-handed notions of sexual satire for a more satisfying ending to the legend of the Bride, as Eva (Jennifer Beals) and the Creature (Clancy Brown) reunite in the climax.

Of course, young love is all the rage on Valentine's Day, and one movie that stands out in this respect is Carrie, based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King. Tormented daily by unpleasant classmates and her own religiously zealous mother, Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) finally wreaks a terrible revenge on her entire school after her discovery of telekinetic abilities, but not before discovering kindness and love from a remorseful Sue Snell (Amy Irving) who sets up her boyfriend Tommy Ross (William Katt) to take Carrie to the prom. Despite Carrie's being elected prom queen, her telekinetic abilities are set in motion by the vengeful and spoiled Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen), who has plotted a terrible prank involving a bucket of pig's blood. The resulting (and quite wasteful, to my eyes) denouement sets off an unparalleled wave of destruction for everyone who has ever hurt Carrie. This watershed of the horror genre, while very much a product of its time, has many universal themes of acceptance, redemption, vengeance, and longing for same. Carrie was remade in 2002, starring Angela Bettis in the title role; either is worth watching but the 2002 version follows King's novel much more closely than it's predecessor.

For those who require something geared to the holiday, I have 1981's My Bloody Valentine and 2001's Valentine. The Monster Shop can properly recommend neither as both are slasher films, but MBV is regarded as a cult classic and an example of Hollywood's attempts after the success of Halloween and Friday The 13th to create a number of holiday-themed horror films. MBV is the story of a mining town called Valentine Bluffs, whose claim to horror fame is its legend of Harry Warden, a miner who was trapped in a shaft collapse and went mad, exacting a bloody Valentine's Day revenge on his guilty crew foremen and threatening a return to Valentine Bluffs if the holiday was ever celebrated again. Naturally, several years later some kids decide it's time to hold a Valentine's day dance, and, well, you can guess the rest. Despite it being a summarily convoluted and thoroughly unscary movie, we in the Monster Shop hold a certain soft spot in our hearts for Valentine, which stars David Boreanaz of Angel and Bones fame and is the story of a young middle-school outcast who is beaten and humiliated at a Valentine's Day dance and plots revenge on the five girls who rejected him. Though the resulting film plays out much like Slasher Flick 90210, this is the only horror film we have found whose masked killer gets a massive nosebleed right before committing murder.

Finally, we present one absolutely fabulous movie: May, starring Angela Bettis in the title role and directed by Lucky McKee. May is the story of a poorly socialized young lady with a lazy eye whose attempts to create relationships within her life go terribly awry, further confusing and demoralizing her to the point that her misgivings explode into full-blown psychosis. Within each of those relationships, she has been attracted to some physical feature about the person, so when she goes off the deep end, May thus begins to collect the body parts she admires from the various people she has sought friendship from in hopes of creating the perfect friend... and McKee and Bettis have subsequently created the perfect Valentine's Day horror movie. Wrong in all the right ways, May deserves to be included within our soiree of savagery.

So there we are. And if I have offended anyone with my remarks about this holiday, please be advised that although it is never my intention to offend the general public, where Valentine's Day is concerned I really don't care if I have. Do enjoy these tastes of
horror dark-chocolate on this day, and remember that love comes in many forms not requiring a small naked winged child with a quiver of arrows. (Honestly, those ancient Greeks were clever souls, but once in a while anyone can throw a wobbler.)

Bethany Ruthven