Horror for Lovers – Eight Horror Films for Valentine’s Day
As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, I’m sure at least some of you have gone on the diatribe about the day being a made up holiday meant to line the coffers of those selling cards, candy, and flowers. And while that rant may be as clichéd as the holiday itself, there is no denying that there is an arbitrary pressure to be particularly romantic every February 14th. But do not despair, my fellow horror fans! I present to you eight horror films with romantic and/or Valentine’s Day themes for your consideration. What could be more romantic than turning the lights down low, curling up on the couch with your significant other, and sharing an evening of terror? If your betrothed questions the sincere romantic intent in your entertainment selection, do not panic. Simply remind them that Romeo and Juliet is considered by many to be the greatest love story ever told…and (spoiler alert) both characters end up dead.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
As Bela Lugosi says in Tim Burton’s biopic Ed Wood (please read in your best Hungarian accent), “If you want to make out with a young lady, take her to see Dracula.” Vampirism has always been associated with sexuality and romantic allure. The vampire is the seductive force lingering in the darkness. It is both enticing and addictive despite, or perhaps because of, the inherent danger. Francis Ford Coppola’s film re-interprets Dracula as a tragic love story. Dracula, in despair over the death of his wife Elisabeta, renounces God and thus curses himself to an eternity as a vampire. The Count’s later actions are justified by his attempts to re-connect with the reincarnation of Elisabeta in Jonathan Harper’s fiancée Mia. Dracula is portrayed as torn between the desire to have his true love again by his side and not wanting to curse her to his fate. Heck, the tagline of the movie is “Love Never Dies”. What more do you want?
Hospital Massacre (1982)
If the title of this slasher leaves you questioning its inclusion on this list, perhaps the original title, Be My Valentine…Or Else, will shed a little light. Hospital Massacre is the story of young Harold whose attempt to give a Valentine to little Susan Jeremy is met with mockery. One wouldn’t think that would be enough to launch a killing spree in a hospital on Valentine’s Day 19 years later. Apparently, one would be wrong.
The Fly (1986)
David Cronenberg’s reworking of the 1958 Vincent Price film focuses on the relationship between the protagonist, Seth Brundle and Veronica Quaife. Brundle is a scientist working on a teleportation device and Quaife is the journalist documenting his work. The romantic relationship that develops between them is put to the test when a lab accident results in Brundle’s genetic material being merged with that of a common house fly. ‘Brundlefly’ begins to exhibit some of the traits of a fly while shedding human physical characteristics and body parts. As disturbing as that is, it is the loss of Brundle’s humanity and the callous indifference he shows to Quaife that is truly horrifying. It is not his appearance that defines him as a monster but rather his willingness to sacrifice Quaife’s life and the life of their unborn child in an attempt to help himself. Even then Quaife’s final act towards Brundlefly is not in reaction to the monster he has become but in loving compassion for who he once was. You’ll have to excuse me. I think I have something in my compound eye.
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
My Bloody Valentine tells the story of the town of Valentine Bluff. Twenty years ago, an accident at the local mine buried five men alive when two supervisors abandoned their posts in order to attend the annual Valentine’s Day party. Yes, really. The only survivor of the accident murdered the supervisors in revenge and warned the town to never hold another Valentine’s Day dance again. Anyone who knows anything about slasher movies knows what happens when the town lifts the self-imposed ban and attempts to host its first Valentine’s Day dance in twenty years. Despite the Valentine’s Day theme, there is no real romance in My Bloody Valentine. Not unless you find being murdered and shoved in a clothes dryer romantic.
My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)
This remake of the 1981 film changed the back story and in so doing did away with most of the Valentine’s Day references. This makes it even less romantically inclined than its predecessor. But it did keep the title. It also stars Jensen Ackles of Supernatural so proposing this film might buy you some geek cred and/or heartthrob points.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Is there a more romantic image than the lost soul searching this world for acceptance, a place where he belongs, and that one person who can truly understand him? Admittedly in this case that lost soul is a seven foot lumbering monster built from stolen corpses but, perhaps, that makes his plight that much more romantic. Frankenstein’s monster has always been a fairly sympathetic character, more misunderstood than evil. In Bride of Frankenstein, the Monster’s appearance hinders his numerous attempts to join human society. In frustration and spurred on by Dr. Pretorius, the Monster demands that Frankenstein build a mate for him. When that mate turns out to be as frightened of his appearance as everyone else, the Monster brings Frankenstein’s castle down on himself and the object of his unrequited love.
Why are horror movies focused around Valentine’s Day the least romantic? In this case, we have a killer that wears a Cupid mask, sends out threatening Valentine’s cards, and attends a Valentine’s Day party. There is some back story involving the rejected advances of an awkward kid with a chronic nose bleed. Realistically, however, I think the beating the kid receives at the hands of some bullies would be a more justifiable cause for a homicidal rampage. The film stars Buffy’s own Angel, David Boreanaz so again you might be able to sell the film on its geek credentials. But honestly, if it comes to that, it’s not really worth the effort.
Strip away all the horror aspects and, at its core, Christine is a love story. Oh sure, it is a love story between a teen and his car but who are we to judge? The love and devotion that Arnie and Christine share is something that many people can only wish to experience. Arnie nurses Christine back to her former glory and, in return, Christine will do anything for her man…including kill anyone who wrongs him. True, she is the jealous type, trying to keep Arnie all to herself. And, sadly, her attempts to protect their love ultimately lead to Arnie’s death. But as Arnie lies dying in front of her grill, Christine’s radio plays “Pledging My Love” by Johnny Ace. With the lyrics, “I’ll forever love you the rest of my days. I’ll never part from you and your loving ways,” all is forgiven.
This list barely scratches the surface. It isn’t hard to find at least a little romance in horror films. If you have any additions, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.