6 Cynical Valentine’s Day Scenes We Love

By  · Published on February 11th, 2013

Every movie site and its grandmother does a list of favorite romantic films or scenes on Valentine’s Day. I thought I’d do something different in anticipation of the lover’s holiday this year and highlight some great anti-Valentine’s Day scenes set on or otherwise involving the Hallmark holiday. They’re not necessarily against love and romance, but they do take shots at the enforced occasion for love and romance. Some of these scenes include death, one is about the end of the world and another features the ignorant poisoning of a beloved comic strip character.

If you haven’t got a date for Thursday, don’t want a date for Thursday or have no need for a holiday that tells you to be especially romantic with your significant other on Thursday, the following six scenes and their films are for you.

Any Death Scene in My Bloody Valentine

We shall begin with the obvious, a horror film set during Valentine’s Day modeled completely after the premise behind Friday the 13th. Because long ago some miners were killed because of negligent workers excited about a Valentine’s Day dance, a masked killer is now going around killing people on the night of the first such celebration since the accident. It’s one thing for someone to dismiss or denounce the Hallmark holiday, but it’s quite the extreme to kill anyone who is into the day of roses and chocolates. With no single kill scene isolated on the web, here’s a quick montage of a few deaths in the 1981 original.

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Some Like It Hot

One of the reasons Billy Wilder’s 1959 classic is considered the best comedy of all time, let alone best rom-com, is how it plays with romantic conventions. This includes having the impetus of its premise lie in an infamously deadly Valentine’s Day incident: the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Many movies since have copied the plot device of protagonists witnessing a murder and having to go on the run, but that’s not the notable part of this scene in which musicians Joe and Jerry (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s that a constantly ironic and farcical and cynical love story begins with blood on the lover’s holiday. While I can’t find an isolated clip of this scene, below is the film in its entirety. Just start at 18:00 and end at 23:00.

Linus Kills Snoopy in Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown

In a 1975 Peanuts cartoon, Linus is infatuated with his teacher and buys her a box of chocolates. When she leaves with her boyfriend, though, Linus is heartbroken and attempts to throw the candy into the river while labeling each chocolate for things like “love,” “romance” and “Elizabeth Barrett Browning.” Unbeknownst to him, they’re being caught and eaten by Snoopy and Woodstock. And since chocolate is poison to dogs, obviously everyone’s favorite beagle is killed on the spot. Every appearance since has been zombie Snoopy.

“Valentine’s Day… Bummer” in Ghostbusters II

This scene isn’t technically set on Valentine’s Day, but it is about February 14, 2016, being the predicted date for the end of the world. Once again, it’s an ironic tragedy for such a special time of mushiness. I’m sure we all know someone who’d think it fair for the apocalypse to hit while the world is nonsensically celebrating a made-up occasion for romance. But Chloe Webb’s character doesn’t seem to be too credible in her psychic prophecy. It sounds more like she had a confused, possibly drugged, night of passion with a man she thought was an alien. But hey, we still have three years to find out if she was telling the truth.

Cupid vs. the Devil in Don’t Look Now

I’ve always found the Cupid thing unromantic. He’s like a love potion, where the romance between two people is only requited because of magic. Now throw in a pesky little devil who is himself very cynical about love, making Valentine’s Day his time for breaking people up through trickery. There’s no real romance in any of it, and the wrestling match between the two little cherubic characters in this 1936 Tex Avery-directed “Merrie Melodies” short is like a fight between two evils. The whole film is only seven minutes long, so you can see that scene and the rest below.

Day After Meeting in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Of course the movie that is both one of the most romantic and one of the most cynically unromantic of all time is set during Valentine’s Day. While the majority of the plot takes place on the eve of February 14, the bookending “day after” sequences are on the actual holiday. The first line of the movie is actually Joel (Jim Carrey) in voiceover saying, “Random thoughts for Valentine’s day, 2004: today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.” And then he meets and falls in love with a girl he’s already met and fallen in love with and had erased from his memory. Ultimately the film does show that love is more than just thoughts and memories, that it’s a magnetic bond that brings people like Joel and Clementine (Kate Winslet) back together on a Metro North train. But the prologue, even before you know that it’s the future, is so cynical for showing a romantic situation and then showing us the context, that (1) this relationship has already gone into the ground, and (2) that these people are so naive to have no idea how their past and future will destroy the relationship they think they’re starting. It’s devastatingly brilliant.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.