As much as we all love the horror genre, we probably all have to admit that it isn’t exactly kind to lovers. Scary stories have a tendency to exploit our anxieties about romance and sexuality, turning fears of disease and feelings of jealousy and even innocent attraction into terrifying tales of obsession and death.
So when you’re actually in the mood to watch a movie about love, finding a good horror movie that fits the bill can be a little tricky. But don’t worry, folks, we’ve got you covered. This Valentine’s Day (or any other day, since love cares not for calendars), make some popcorn, curl up on the couch and watch some of these great films about love conquering all… or at least love getting super-duper sexy before everybody dies.
THE ADDAMS FAMILY (1991) and ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES (1993)
The Addams Family live in a spooky gothic homestead filled with monsters and homicidal children, but Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) wouldn’t have it any other way. In these two kooky comedies from director Barry Sonnenfeld, unusual and sometimes downright off-putting love is celebrated in practically every scene, by two soul mates who – after years and years of marriage – can still barely contain their fiery passion for one another.
BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA (1992)
Francis Ford Coppola’s sumptuous, fantastically over-the-top adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel is a gothic delight from start to finish. True, in his effort to revive the sexuality of the vampire myth Coppola seems to have overcompensated a little bit, but the nipple-biting, porno-reading, absolutely lascivious characters in BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA could free the beast in just about any audience member. There are here to seduce and be seduced, and they do their jobs very, very well.
Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, giant monster attacks city, boy gets everybody killed to save girl. Matt Reeves’ ambitious found-footage kaiju movie CLOVERFIELD could be considered a bleak, even nihilistic film, but when viewed as the story of a guy who only realizes what’s important after a catastrophe strikes New York City, it becomes as humanistic a 9/11 allegory as Hollywood has ever produced. It’s sweet (if you don’t mind a little bitterness).
Two DRACULA adaptations in one list seems like cheating, but John Badham’s film is worlds away from Francis Ford Coppola’s decadent interpretation. Frank Langella smolders in this movie, a thoroughly alluring creature who draws his female conquests into a colorful and erotic world of wonders. Classier than most other DRACULA movies, and better acted too, this is old-school sexy vampirism at its best.
I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943)
Nearly 70 years before PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, Jacques Tourneur added the undead to Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE, and it actually worked. Frances Dee plays a nurse who comes to a Caribbean island to care for the wife of a plantation owner, but the woman’s madness stems from something far beyond the means of modern medicine. Spooky atmosphere and gothic romance abound in this somewhat dated, but very interesting horror romance.
INNOCENT BLOOD (1992)
He may be best known for placing AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, but John Landis’s horror comedy about a French vampire in New York City is pretty great too. Anne Parillaud stars as a sexy seductress who preys on Italian mobsters, accidentally turns a powerful mafia don into a monster, and teams up with an undercover cop played by Anthony LaPaglia to clean up the mess. Fun action, witty humor, and (most importantly) steamy sexual chemistry makes INNOCENT BLOOD a bloody good date movie; Parillaud and LaPaglia are dynamite together, and their sex scene is a classic.
THE MUMMY (1932)
The big budget remake may be fun, but in the original movie of THE MUMMY, the villain actually works to win the heart of his resurrected lover instead of just throwing man-eating beetles at everybody. Boris Karloff plays the Egyptian priest and the sultry Zita Johann plays the object of his, and everybody else’s affection. THE MUMMY is mysterious and mystical and just plain magic.
NINA FOREVER (2016)
A horror romance for people with baggage, the new and excellent NINA FOREVER tells the story of a man who is just getting over the recent death of his girlfriend, starts dating again, and discovers that every time he tries to have sex – every single time – his dead lover comes back and gets in the way. Gruesome imagery and sensitive drama about love and loss probably won’t lead to a sexy date night (well, maybe), but for those looking for a meaningful film about meaningful relationships, with a corpse in it, you can’t do much better than NINA FOREVER.
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (2013)
Jim Jarmusch’s vampire movie is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a vampire movie directed by Jim Jarmusch. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton play ethereal immortals who’ve been in a committed relationship for centuries, and still love each other, and spend their days chatting about awesome music and celebrities they’ve met and the enigmatic qualities of mushrooms. It’s like watching two perfect hippies who are still in a relationship after all these years, but they’re still sexy as hell, and probably a lot cooler than you.
SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)
Shaun (Simon Pegg) has the perfect girlfriend, but he’s not the perfect guy. He’s been shiftily avoiding personal responsibility for so long that he doesn’t know how to do anything else. But when the zombie apocalypse shows up overnight, it gives him the perfect opportunity to grow up, prove his worth, and commit to the right lady. Edgar Wright’s SHAUN OF THE DEAD is funny, gory, clever and – in the end – extremely endearing.
TROMEO AND JULIET (1996)
Not strictly a horror movie, perhaps, but any movie with a giant penis monster probably qualifies. TROMEO AND JULIET, written by future SLITHER and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY director James Gunn, is an ultra-violent, psychosexual interpretation of William Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy. It’s like a punk band got together, did a lot of drugs, and wrote the script over a weekend with only a hazy recollection of what the original ROMEO & JULIET was all about. And yet, despite the low budget and ubiquitous sleaze, the spirit of The Bard breaks through, and the wild and wonderful madness of Troma gets elevated – just this once – to something borderline great.
WARM BODIES (2013)
Another ROMEO & JULIET riff, this time taking place in the zombie apocalypse, where a young girl (Teresa Palmer) finds an unexpected kind of love with a young zombie (Nicholas Hoult). Jonathan Levine’s film, based on the novel by Isaac Marion, has fresh new ideas about unlife after death, and a surprisingly hopeful interpretation of a horrifying concept that most people – filmmakers and audiences alike – think of as inherently cynical. So snuggle up with your loved one and let WARM BODIES keep you warm.