The Post-Valentine's Day Blues

Now how was YOUR Valentine’s Day? Filled with candy and flowers or one with a large bottle of cheap wine and re-runs of “The Property Brothers” on HGTV? The holiday is always divisive — it’s an expression of love for some, a cynical way to sell fake ideas of romance to others — and with Valentine’s Day hangovers smacking us in the face, what better time to watch either a romantic comedy to make you think wistfully about love— or a slasher film that exploits the holiday just like card companies and candy manufacturers do.


Four Weddings And A Funeral is the preeminent British romantic comedy of the 1990s, many of which were written by Richard Curtis, formerly a TV writer best known for the Blackadder and Mr. Bean series starring collaborator Rowan Atkinson (who makes a singularly funny cameo here that will help you forget the woeful Johnny English film series). Curtis, later to write Notting Hill and Love Actually and adapting Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary— all of which star Hugh Grant, essentially establishing his career at playing boyish and charming rakes — does a solid job capturing romantic uncertainty and the anxiety of falling for the wrong person (or here, falling for the right person at the wrong time).


Four Weddings holds up remarkably well, save for a few brash fashion statements, and it’s hard to believe that this year marks the film’s 25th (!) anniversary. The story — where Hugh Grant falls for Andie MacDowell at the first of the film’s many weddings, only to have her disappear and later turn up engaged to elderly stiff Scotsman Corin Redgrave — works well, mostly thanks to the charm of the cast (Grant, Kristin Scott-Thomas, James Fleet, Simon Callow and John Hannah as a gay couple and the late Charlotte Coleman) and Curtis’ clever plotting and dialogue. We feel Grant’s pain as his romance falls through and a litany of his old girlfriends turn back up (appropriately awkwardly) in his life and the actor’s charm carries him through the piece even when it grows a bit manipulative. The irony is that the actual romance is the least successful part of the storyline— MacDowell is appealing, but her character, who basically exists to torment Grant, is not and the climax (no spoilers) feels like a bit of a cheat to keep her in the storyline. Stay for the cast and the laughs, which are plentiful; try to ignore Andie MacDowell’s character if possible.

Shout Select has reissued an “Anniversary Edition” of Four Weddings And A Funeral, which keeps the previous extras from the 2011 MGM version (which were largely recycled from the 2006 DVD), including a commentary with Richard Curtis, director Mike Newell and producer Duncan Kenworthy, the “Wedding Planners” documentary some very amusing deleted scenes and some featurettes/trailers. New to this edition is a lengthy and informative interview with director of photography Michael Coulter and, best of all, a 4K scan from the original negative, which is head and shoulders better than the original MGM transfer— more colorful and significantly more sharp and filmic in appearance. It’s the best the film has looked outside of its premiere and a worthy upgrade.


On the other side comes 2001’s Valentine, the second slasher film set on St. Valentine’s Day, following 1981’s significantly more gruesome My Bloody Valentine (the 3D remake of which was released in 2009). Valentine wants to be a stylish take on the slasher film and director Jamie (Urban Legend) Blanks and long-time Tales From The Crypt cinematographer Rick Bota develop a slick look for the piece full of bold colors and appropriately deep reds. Marley Shelton, Denise Richards, Jessica Capshaw and Jessica Cauffiel (and, briefly, Katherine Heigl) are long-time friends who find themselves pursued by a cherub-mask-wearing killer who we learn is out for revenge after being turned down by them (and later beaten by bullies) at a 6th-grade dance ten years earlier. It’s a pretty slim base on which to mount a screenplay and it doesn’t help that we learn next to nothing about the characters — including hard-drinking boyfriend David Boreanaz, weird artist Johnny Whitworth ad lecherous cop Fulvio Cecere — and that the killer’s motivation is epitome of the slasher film archetype “Revenge Of The Bullied Kid” ( an actual list on There are some minor jolts and a couple of interesting kills — the best involves a giant drill and a hot tub — but little here that generates real scares. There’s surprisingly little gore here — which was the trend in late-‘90s/early 2000s horror) and the whodunnit suspense is lacking; instead of wondering who the killer is (later revealed in a very underwhelming twist), we’re confused why he’s doing this in the first place.


That being said, Scream Factory delivers the goods to celebrate Valentine’s Blu-Ray debut, starting off with a sharp and very colorful transfer (from a “new 2K scan of the original film elements”) and a thunderous 5.1 sound mix. The piece is packed with extras, including a fun and relaxed audio commentary with director Blanks,Phantasm creator Don Coscarelli and horror historian Peter Bracke and a slew of new interviews, including those with Marley Shelton, Denise Richards, Jessica Cauffiel, co-writers Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts, composer Don Davis and, best of all, veteran editor Steve Mirkovich, whose half-hour conversation, detailing his work on low-budget features, working with John Carpenter and the nuts-and-bolts of the editing process is a master-class in and of itself. Valentine may be a disappointment as a horror-thriller, but looks great on this Scream Factory disc and fans of the film will be happy with the treasure-trove of extras.

You can purchase Four Weddings And A Funeral directly from Shout Factory or from Amazon.

You can purchase Valentine directly from Shout Factory or from Amazon.

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