Terrifying Love: Sam’s ‘Movies for a Horror-Filled Valentine’s Day’
Valentine’s Day is almost here, dear readers, and as we all know, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of having someone’s heart in your hands… at least until it stops beating. But when roses, chocolates and wine fail to satisfy that special gorehound in your life, what’s a horror fan to do? Lucky for you, Fango wants to help make your Valentine’s a bloody perfect one, so cozy up to your demented darling, queue up these romantic fright films and re-animate your love life!
You should know I’m fighting every urge to put POSSESSION on this list. While Andrzej Zulawski’s film is a masterpiece, it is intensely more suited to anti-Valentine’s Day programming. An epic, pained work about the dissolution of a marriage surely gets the heightened state of being and obsession angles correct, but romantics and horror fans are not mutually exclusive. Thus, this list is suited to those who count themselves as both, and who’d like to spend their Valentine’s Day in a dream state…
AMER (2009, Dir. Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani)
There’s little, if any, traditional romance in Cattet & Forzani’s experimental neo-giallo, sure, but the entire film is a result of it. Or more so, the directing pair’s combined obsession with, and attraction to, the aesthetic pleasures and signifiers of that ‘70s-centric Italian subgenre. Attraction is plenty significant to the romantic state, and them being mutually taken with heavy, hazy, colorful style seeps into the experience of viewing at home, in a theater, what have you. The film—an anthology of eerie, developmental moments in a woman’s life—boasts a strange mood, one of beauty, violence, seduction and sexuality. Often, they all arrive in something of a storm that can conjure a particularly special viewing experience for two.
THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (1968, Dir. Terence Fisher) & NIGHT OF THE EAGLE (1962, Dir. Sidney Hayers)
There’s something in British disposition that, in the worst of circumstances, will find time for wit and maybe even a little romance. Directed by two of the great British genre directors, THE DEVIL RIDES OUT and NIGHT OF THE EAGLE (aka BURN, WITCH, BURN!) are bonded by their screenwriter, one Richard Matheson, and thus allow me to fit them into one entry. Both films possess a sense of occult high adventure and the willingness to go the distance for the one you love. NIGHT OF THE EAGLE manages to examine married life and the ability to love despite disagreement and disapproval, while THE DEVIL RIDES OUT is at points a testament to friendship and to love at first sight, as Leon Greene’s Rex van Ryn will take on the devil himself for one of his best buds and the brainwashed Satanist he’s immediately taken with. That’s not to mention both films boast a true sense of fun—midst the at times properly eerie imagery—that can inform your whole Valentine’s evening.
I MARRIED A WITCH (1942, Dir. René Clair)
Veronica Lake is irresistible (have you seen THIS GUN FOR HIRE?) and possibly never more so as in René Clair’s utterly delightful romantic comedy. Hilarious, quick and a witch, she’s awoken to continue a curse on the Wooley family, but finds herself in love with her victim (the great Fredric March) instead. Clair clearly has no intent to scare, but the creatures we love need love too, and within I MARRIED A WITCH’s short, sweet runtime is a fulfilling, fun journey watching her find it.
KISS OF THE DAMNED (2013, Dir. Xan Cassavettes)
Clearly influenced by our next director, last year’s KISS OF THE DAMNED is a truly swooning film. Cast with a range of total stunners, from Josephine de la Baume to Milo Ventimiglia to Roxane Mesquida to beyond, Xan Cassavettes dazzlingly chronicles the headrush of immediate attraction right up to the actual building of the rest of a relationship. And there’s no shortage of eroticism or blood in between.
LIPS OF BLOOD (1975, Dir. Jean Rollin)
A romantic notion of horror takes that ultimate quality—what the Universal Films are often hailed for—of sympathy for the monsters. French director and master of a dreamy, often nude brand of cult cinema so beloved Jean Rollin boasts absolute sympathy for his creatures—hard not to, considering they’re often brought to life by gorgeous women—and so much so, he wouldn’t deny them love. I find LIPS OF BLOOD his most romantic, as it’s a windswept film that makes a vampire one half of that old “lovers driven apart” type of tale. Here, Federic (Jean-Loup Phillipe) spends the picture trying to reach a gothic castle he remembers as a young boy and the woman inside he promised to come back for. Guided by vampires he’s made to unleash, Federic is also met with an overbearing mother and a group of vampire killers. He denies their existence and objections however, and the film culminates in a touching, intensely romantic final image: Federic and Jennifer, his vampire love, together in a coffin, drifting off into the ocean.
[REC] 3: GENESIS
One of the warmest zombie(ish) films there is, Paco Plaza’s solo outing within the [REC] series changed the tone, much to a great deal of viewers’ chagrin. Those who rejected it however, have denied themselves great pleasure as [REC] 3 is astonishingly romantic. From its opening wedding video lens—in which Plaza and the ensemble nail the welcoming, frenzied, joyous atmosphere that can permeate some great nuptials—to lead couple Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martin), who simply won’t stop looking for each other when all hell breaks loose, the film is gory and silly and an utter ode to being together, and even going down with the one you love.