Laura Macfehin looks at the horror flicks that best fit your every Valentine’s Day mood.
OK, so I’m a little biased in that I truly believe every holiday is made better with a horror film, but I think that a very strong case can be made for horror being the perfect Valentine’s Day match.
Sure on the surface a Rom-Com might seem more appropriate– but I think we all know that these are by and large a tissue of lies and un-meetable expectations that do nothing for real-life romance except set us up for at best disappointment and at worst the inability to differentiate between romance and disturbing stalker behaviour.
Horror, on the other hand delivers no matter what your Valentine’s needs may be. For those in a new relationship there is nothing more bonding than sharing a scare or discussing how you would have avoided the slasher’s axe.
For those jaded with romance or happily dating yourself in a world obsessed with hetero pair bonding, what could be more cathartic than seeing young love literally getting its heart ripped out.
And for those soft souls in a committed relationship with their beloved only horror provides stories of romance that defy time and space to endure.
Scream if you want to go faster!
If you’re on the new relationship buzz one of the best things you can do is watch a good old fashioned slasher flick. You’ll be jumping into each others arms in no time! There are obviously plenty to choose from but some that that might work particularly well are–
Urban Legend (1998)
Although it’s not specifically Valentine’s Day themed it is one of the best slasher films of the 90s. Students at a New England university start popping off in ways that suspiciously mirror the eponymous legends.
It’s got a bit of the meta po-mo self-reflexiveness made popular by the Scream movies but it is also just great slasher flick. The formula was at its peak here and a good time via a nostalgic trip back to the simpler late 1990s is guaranteed.
If you want to see all those horror tropes in their original incarnations then you have to travel back to the early 80s. My Bloody Valentine (1981) hasn’t been lauded like other films in the genre– movies like Friday the 13th (1980) or Halloween (1978) but its a great little picture.
Twenty years after a Valentines Day dance is turned into a massacre by a traumatised miner the town decides to party again… with deadly consequences!
Sure it might not be that scary to our 21st century eyes but it is set in Valentines Bluff on Valentines Day so you can’t get more on theme than that.
Also with an on-the-nose Valentine’s theme is Hospital Massacre (1981) aka X-Ray aka Be My Valentine, Or Else… In the same ‘killer returns’ mode Hospital Massacre features a woman who in her youth spurns a would-be valentine. Twenty years later and– you guessed it– he’s back and still wants to claim her heart!
In a similar vein but as yet un-viewed by me are Lover’s Lane (1999) and Valentine (2001). The latter stars David Boreanaz of Angel fame and Denise Richards, and both films look trashy as all get out which is a bonus for me– the trashier the slashier in my books.
Love is for losers
In more recent years we’ve had a bevy of horror features with a somewhat more cynical take on romance and dating, so if that’s your current feels there are some fabulous films supporting that mood!
You’re Next (2011) is still one of my favourite horrors to come out in the past ten years. Centred around the already fraught ‘meeting the parents’ scenario You’re Next makes the idea that love is a trap literal with stellar turns from aussie Sharni Vinson and horror icon Barbara Crampton. If you’ve ever shouted at characters not to be so stupid you’ll find this flick a very satisfying watch!
There are more aussies highlighting the dark side of love in The Loved Ones (2009). When troubled but spunky teen Brent turns down Lola Stone’s invitation to a dance (he already has a girlfriend after all) Lola enlists her dad’s help to make her prom dreams come true– with decidedly twisted results. It may seem odd to call something so gut-roiling ‘refreshing’ but The Loved Ones really is, and not just because its a gender-flip on the usual spurned-dork-becomes-killer storyline. They are thrills and gore a-plenty here.
If you’ve had first hand experience with gaslighting, belittling and other bullshit behaviour then last year’s Midsommar (2019) is for you. An American college student tags along with her (obviously the worst) boyfriend and his friends on a trip to a secretive Swedish commune. Yes there are a couple of shocks along the way but cartharsis is the name of the game here and sometimes you need a good slap in the face.
See also May (2002), Teeth (2007), Jennifer’s Body (2009), and Get Out (2017)
It’s not all romance gone bad in horror films though– in fact some of the most romantic storylines (in my slightly gothy brain anyway) are contained in horror scripts. So if you’re a loved up softy then horror is still the greatest genre to with which to celebrate.
I may have been at a somewhat formative stage when Francis Ford Coppola brought out his version of Dracula (1992), but I still think Gary Oldman’s Count is the most romantic to have graced the silver screen. You couldn’t be an angsty teen in the early 90s and not swoon when he says this to Winona Ryder.
To be fair by the time Coppola made his gothic period piece my penchant for creepy re-vivified ancient lovers had already been established by Boris Karloff’s role in The Mummy (1932). Everything in this film is beautiful, from Jack Pierce’s masterful monster makeup to the romantic love that would bring Imhotep back from the dead looking for his re-incarnated princess.
Ok it may seem like I’m just sticking this last one in here because I like to put Poltergeist (1982) on every list I make, but I genuinely think of this as a very romantic film. Unlike a lot of horrors in which a family is divided by a paranormal experience, the Freeling’s stick together. Ultimately it is the strength of their love and in particular Steve’s confidence in his wife that allows her to rescue her daughter and protect their little family and, corny as it sounds, that seems really romantic to me.
For other genuinely romantic films see also: The Conjuring (2013), and The Lost Boys (1987),