Potent Elixirs of Horror & Romance That Shakes its Viewers Without Stirring Them
Love is universal. And lovers come in all shapes and sizes, their passion as expansive as the unexplored depths of the sea. But for a specific subset of romantics, nothing puts them in the mood for love like a macabre delight. The perfect elixir of horror intermingled with some romance is mesmerizing. A feature that is equally heart-warming and spine-tingling is a most irresistible concoction that ensures they are a bit shaken but not stirred.
There is a little over a month until Valentine’s Day. In preparation, here is a curated list of some of the best films created that blend horror and romance. While the list is non-exhaustive, it provides a snapshot of some of the most popular of the subset over the last four decades.
9. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Although the earliest of these films dates back to the 1960s, the most memorable adaptation was released in 1986. Little Shop of Horrors, starring Rick Moranis (Seymour), Ellen Greene (Audrey), and Steve Martin, has become a cult classic. This story set to music is a perfect tale of love and longing, with one exception – a carnivorous Venus Fly Trap from outer space. While this flick is not quite bone-rattling, it has its unique brand of terror. And seeing the lengths someone will go to win the love of their life never grows old.
8. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
When it comes to romance, there is nothing like a tale of longing and unrequited love, as it refers to the elusiveness of a dream. In 1990, writers Tim Burton and Caroline Thompson used these thematic elements to tell a different kind of story. Burton and Thompson, who adapted it for the screen, were masterfully creative in using horror elements to relay a story of unrequited love. In their story, a beautiful but monstrous creation sets his sights on a lovely girl.
Edward, much like Frankenstein, does not fit into a box of conformity defined by conventional standards. An oddity in looks but stunning in his uniqueness, he becomes the fetishized object for the town’s hungry female residents. But his inability to identify with being human shifts the gaze of the residents, and he quickly becomes the object of disdain. Sadly, his nature renders him unsuitable for the lovely stranger who has captured his heart. Edward Scissorhands is the ultimate story of elusive love. Not only does the motif never grow old neither does love for this film. As Film Inquiry notes, “Burton’s surreal illustrative ingenuity, Depp and Ryder’s marvelous, career-making performances, and a story filled with simplicity and complexity and an intangible element of wizardry that stands the test of time. Edward Scissorhands is one of the greatest films ever made.”
7. Bride of Chucky (1998)
Chucky was a menace who reawakened fears of dolls. After the premiere of Child’s Play (1988), people looked at any dolls that entered their homes with a side-eye. But a little trepidation is expected when you mix voodoo, a serial killer, and a tiny plastic frame. Nevertheless, Chucky quickly became a favorite amongst horror fans. He seemed unstoppable. Then there was Tiffany. In 1998, Ronny Yu brought together the two nasty character creations of Don Mancini, Chucky and Tiffany, in the feature film Bride of Chucky. It was indeed the cutest, nastiest, and naughtiest of romantic pairings. However, that creative blending of romance and horror made this a memorable flick.
6. Open Water (2003)
Jaws (1975) showed the viewers the actual dangers waiting in the waters. And when the end credits rolled, it reminded them they would never want to go in the water again. Unfortunately, only some people got the message. In 2003, viewers watched as a loving pair met their demise in Open Water. Not since Titanic (1997) was there such a woeful tragedy on the high seas, at least for some viewers. Sitting in the theater watching a lovely adventurous pair become shark bait was torturous. But pain and love are often an undeniable pairing.
5. Warm Bodies (2013)
Creepy dolls rarely conjure up images of romance, but neither do zombies. However, in 2013 Jonathan Levine changed that with the adaptation of Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies. This film proved that love and romantic relationships were possible for the undead. Never before had a zombie been so lovable and sweet. Warm Bodies was a sappy and saccharine reminder that love sometimes reaches beyond death and can restore life.
4. Crimson Peak (2015)
Classically speaking, nothing says romance like an old Victorian tale of a sweeping and whirlwind courtship. And Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak captured that. Crimson Peak was a classic but haunted love story. A languishing and restless author (Edith Cushing) falls head over heels for a dashing stranger (Thomas Sharpe). However, her new life after love gets complicated. Life with Sharpe is not the ecstasy-filled life of whimsy imagined. But instead, it becomes one of foreboding, fear, and perpetual horror. Crimson Peak is a tale that pairs well with some red wine and chocolate.
3. Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies (2016)
While staying close to the classics, nothing is as romantically moving in the literary sense as a Jane Austen book. And her 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice is one of her most well-known works. According to the Jane Austen Society of North America, “it is as pure of a classical romance story as one could imagine. Pride and Prejudice is a classic love story because it sets the pattern for a modern popular love story in which a remote, powerful man loves an independent-minded and fascinating woman.” Conventionally there are no horror elements in the novel, at least in the general context of understanding. However, in 2016, the story was remixed and given an obvious bent toward horror. The resulting Pride Prejudice and Zombies turned out to be a pleasant rendering, and because of its uniqueness and traditional foundations, it’s easily one of the top films blending romance and horror.
2. Frank and Penelope (2022)
First, there was Bonnie and Clyde, and then there was Frank and Penelope. This offbeat film is a thriller that mixes an untraditional romance with horror elements. It is comedic and raunchy but sweet. It is an out-of-the-box movie where a man and the target of his affection end up on the run. On their unorthodox journey, they come against some crazed people with bizarre ideations. Then things get sticky, and the love story takes a messy turn. Although it is unbelievably unrealistic, it is still a heart-stopping narrative.
1. The Invitation (2022)
Rounding out the list is The Invitation. This film checks so many boxes and makes the list for meeting the objectives of an endearing love story with a traditional underpinning of horror. The Invitation centers on an ageless vampire and a descendant who is being groomed to become his bride. It is a film dripping with passion, longing, and romanticism but it’s given a modernistic flair which enhances the draw.
So many films hold romanticism and horror in a perfect balance. So, while everyone’s favorite may not be on the list, one thing that is guaranteed is that each one mentioned is worth at least one watch.
The Invitation (2022) Official Screen Gems Trailer