With Valentine’s Day upon us, millions will be enjoying romantic comedies, while other millions will be forced to watch those against their will. That said, even Valentine’s Day can be celebrated via the lens of horror, and we don’t just mean with My Bloody Valentine (or its mediocre remake) either.
Horror can be many things: frightening, disturbing, gory, thought-provoking, hilarious, and even romantic at times. So in the interest of love, let’s take a look at 15 unconventionally romantic horror films to watch this Valentine’s Day!
(Disclaimer: The point here was to look at unconventionally romantic movies, so ones like Warm Bodies, The Shape of Water, or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies will not be considered)
The Loving a Monster Stories
1. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Arguably the most faithful adaptation to Bram Stoker’s source novel, Bram Stoker’s Dracula features a love-stricken vampire who’s not entirely evil. Sure his actions toward Jonathan Harker, Lucy, Van Helsing, and everyone else seem to be motivated by sadism and a desire for power.
But upon seeing Mina, whom we know to be at least the spitting image of, and at most the reincarnation of his deceased with Elisabeta, he finds himself genuinely in love with her.
There’s even a moment when he hesitates and doesn’t wish to turn her into a vampire, knowing what a horrific existence it truly is. Upon his death by Mina’s merciful hands, we get a poignant sense of beautiful tragedy.
2. Bride of Chucky
After watching Chucky torment poor Andy Barclay for three films, Bride of Chucky gave us a change of pace and tone by introducing a new element to Chucky’s life: his girlfriend Tiffany. In addition to a spot on perfecting casting with Jennifer Tilly, and underneath all the homicidal sadism, it’s legitimately fun to see Chucky and Tiffany bicker like any other couple.
In a strange way, she brings out the normal in him occasionally, but when it’s time, she gleefully joins him in murdering people. The relationship works because Tiffany herself is something of a monster, and because they fit the cliché of a couple so dysfunctional that they can only really be with each other.
3. The Fly
It was tempting to include this in under the Romantic Tragedies subcategory, but given the grotesque transformation that takes place, and the fact that Jeff Goldblum’s character technically dies early on, it’s more suitable here.
As explained by the human/fly hybrid after the experiment goes terribly wrong, the original Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) was destroyed, along with the fly, and this hybrid is actually the offspring of them both.
However, Veronica (Geena Davis) doesn’t see a monster, at least not initially. Rather she sees someone struggling and wants to help. She cannot ignore the feelings of love she had for Seth before the incident happened.
The Traditional Horror Films Hiding a Romance Right Under Our Noses
4. The Addams Family
Technically not a horror film, but they’re creepy and they’re kooky, and how could we not mention one of the most romantic couples in cinema/TV history? On social media, it’s not uncommon to see a post to the effect of, “Forget Romeo and Juliet, I want a romance like Joker and Harley Quinn”.
This then leads to someone pointing out that their relationship is in fact quite abusive, and that the truly remarkable one is Gomez and Morticia Addams. Even if we just look at the Barry Sonnenfeld films, we see a couple that is madly in love, and who take equal parts in raising their children and being supportive towards them.
It’s so common in sitcoms and other comedies to see the couple endlessly bickering, but here the humor comes from how strange they are, and unapologetically so. Gomez and Morticia serve as an excellent example of how it’s important to find a partner who doesn’t want to change you, but who loves and accepts you, no matter how weird you are!
5. An American Werewolf in London
Given the ending of this John Landis classic, this also almost made the Romantic Tragedies list, but the reason it’s not is that this film very much feels like a typical romantic comedy, disguised as a werewolf horror film. If we take out that aspect, it’s a story of a naïve American traveling to London, and falling in love with his nurse, in typical Florence Nightingale fashion.
The werewolf transformation (in addition to being the source of horror) serves as a wrench in the gears of his relationship, a common trope in most romantic comedies. Had the film been played out more for comedy (which it already in some ways), this could have been remembered as a hilarious Valentine’s Day classic!
6. The Conjuring 2
Despite being the co-creator of the Saw and Insidious franchises, James Wan admits that he secretly always wanted to do a love story. And the closest he ever came was Conjuring 2. The film sees Ed and Lorraine Warren traveling to Enfield, England to investigate a haunted house, that’s been tormenting the family living there.
Amidst all the supernatural horror, Ed and Lorraine lighten the mood by revealing to Janet (the primarily affected family member) their own back story and how their love for each other remains a beacon of strength in their incredibly challenging work.
There’s also a lighter moment where Ed plays guitar and sings “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley to the family, and it’s a genuinely beautiful moment, as he looks at his wife Lorraine while singing it.
The Romantic Tragedies…with a Horror Twist
7. Crimson Peak
This film’s opening line informs us that this isn’t really a ghost story, more a story with a ghost in it. And that story is a romantic drama that sadly ends in tragedy. All of Edith’s (Mia Wasikowski) life, she’s dreamed of having a romance like the ones she writes about in her stories.
And when Thomas (Tom Hiddleston) and his eccentric sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) come to Buffalo, she quickly falls head over heels for him. Once they are married, and their long con begins to reveal itself, there’s more than just one tragedy. Sure, Edith is shocked and devastated to find that she’s been manipulated this whole time, all so that Thomas and Lucille can get her family fortune.
But it also seems that underneath it all, Thomas genuinely cared for her, and that Lucille was the true manipulator, behind everything. Edith survives at the end, but she learns a harsh lesson about love, one that she wishes could have been learned much easier.
8. The Mummy Returns
In the original Mummy (well, the 1999 remake) it’s made quite clear that Imhotep initially got into trouble with the pharaoh because of his forbidden relationship with his mistress Anck-Su-Namun. And while he does resurrect her briefly in the first film, we don’t really get to see much of her until The Mummy Returns.
Using her reincarnation, he’s able to restore her memories and get his beloved Anck-Su-Namun back. But it all ends in tragedy as the golden pyramid they’re in is collapsing and both Imhotep and Rick O’Connell are holding on to a ledge, about to fall into the Underworld itself.
Large rocks are falling everywhere, and Rick calls to his wife Evie, telling her to run and save herself. And without hesitation she runs to him, risking her own life to pull him out to safety, all out of her immense love for him. After watching this touching moment, Imhotep calls out to Anck-Su-Namun, who promptly refused to help and runs away saving herself.
The look of devastation in Imhotep’s eyes makes us almost forget all the horrific things he did over two movies. He’s not devastated at going to the Underworld, as he spent 3000 years there already, rather it destroys him to learn that the woman he loved, and did everything for didn’t love him the way he loved her. And thus all of his actions, which he believed to be for love, were truly all for nothing.
9. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
As the opening song goes, “There was a barber and his wife…” The tragedy has long since occurred when Sweeney Todd returns to his home city of London. However, the reason it’s on this particular list is because Sweeney was lied to by a jealous Mrs. Lovett about the whereabouts of his wife Lucy.
He was told that she died, when in fact, she was the beggar woman all along, the one he ends up killing in the final act. Had he known the truth, he may have actually had a chance to have his whole family together again. But it was because he believed that was not possible, he instead went down a gory path of vengeance that ended in him killing the woman he loved.
The Compromise Between a Horror Fan and Romantic Comedy Fan
10. Life After Beth
Why does turning into a zombie have to be the end of your relationship? Life After Beth analyzes this very question, and does so in a hilariously dark manner. It works as a comedy, because the characters seem unaware at just how ridiculous these circumstances truly are.
Upon getting married, we say “till death do us part” and this film sees if that extends any further. It’s romantic at times, disturbing at times, but most importantly hilarious most of the time.
11. The Love Witch
Probably the most unique film on this entire list, it’s hard to pin The Love Witch down into any one (or two) genres. It deals with a witch desperate for love, and using magical spells to do so. It’s the perfect compromise because it is overtly romantic at times, but also has that supernatural witchcraft element, that’s always kept just within the fringes of reality
Plus, it has a really unique 1960’s vibe. Up until we see a police detective use a computer and another character have a cell phone, the film very easily could have tricked us into thinking it was in fact made in the 1960’s.
12. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Do you want a movie that has gruesome kills, that’s also hilarious, but contains a sweet romantic story, and a message about acceptance and not judging people, then this movie is perfect not just on Valentine’s Day, but on any day. This may seem brief, but there’s not much else that can be said, other than just watch this movie!
The Disturbing Horror Films that Make Us Afraid of Love and Valentine’s Day
Who hasn’t dated the occasional obsessive stalker here and there? This film takes that and runs with it to the extreme. It begins as a rebellious teenage romance that seems sweet as Nicole (Reese Witherspoon) feels like David (Mark Wahlberg) is everything that she’s been looking for, despite her father not approving (which just makes her love him more).
But when the tonal shift occurs, and David’s true colors emerge, it gets downright terrifying. Not because he’s supernatural or anything like that, rather because there are obsessive people like him out there, who truly don’t understand boundaries. If anything, Fear serves as a cautionary tale to always look for red flags when dating someone new.
14. It Follows
One could argue that many 80’s slasher films were in fact cautionary tales against things like drinking, doing drugs, or having premarital sex, as the characters who did this always wound up getting killed by the killer. It Follows takes this premise and runs with it into disturbing territory.
The unnamed monster remains a not so subtle metaphor for the fears and anxieties of spreading STDs. Surely, none of us believe that a supernatural entity will stalk us, like in this film, but it will certainly inspire people to be more cautious with what they do with whom, and to use protection as often as possible!
And you thought It Follows was disturbing?! Teeth remains horrifying for both men and women, but for vastly different reasons. Certainly men are horrified at the idea of “Mr. Happy” being bitten off, and women unfortunately face the very real fear of being harassed and even assaulted.
However, an important distinction to make is that Dawn’s “affliction” in this film only ever happens when something is being inserted into her without her consent or desire. With this being the case, only those who intend to do something non-consensual would need to be afraid, and anyone who would do that might just deserve the punishment.
There is a sense of overall justice to this. That said, a film of this subject matter isn’t really going to put anyone in the mood on Valentine’s Day!
What’s your favorite romantic horror film to watch on Valentine’s Day, or any time of year for that matter? Did we miss any that deserve mentions? Let us know in the comments below. And for more reviews, rankings, lists, and other fun horror content, follow Halloween Year-Round on Facebook and Twitter!