Sometimes there’s nothing more horrifying than falling in love. While horror can show off the softer, sweeter aspects of relationships, like Spring, it knows how to shine an uncomfortable spotlight on the darker aspects of romance. The isolating painful emotions of unrequited love, lost love, or even the sting of a lover’s betrayal, horror plays on the worst possible fears when it comes to romance. Forget Valentine’s day horror staples like My Bloody Valentine or 2001’s Valentine; these horror movies will make you realize just how nasty and cruel love can be. This Valentine’s Day, commiserate with horror’s most spurned by love with the most brutal romances on screen:
Frank Cotton and Julia Cotton – Hellraiser
Prior to marrying Larry Cotton, Julia had an affair with his brother, Frank. Frank went off to Morocco and got into some trouble with a certain Lament Configuration and that was that. Until Larry cut himself while moving into Frank’s house, unwittingly resurrecting Frank in the process. Julia’s carnal obsession with Frank renewed, she begins bringing men back to the house and murdering them to help regenerate the skinless walking corpse in the attic to her erstwhile lover’s old self. Poor Larry doesn’t even know what hit him. Oblivious to his wife’s obsession with his undead brother, and Frank’s bloodthirsty zest for life, Larry ends up a hapless skin suit. It’s Julia, however, that comes out the biggest loser, when she realizes too late that she meant absolutely nothing to her lover Frank. It’s a comprehension that dawns upon her at the pointy end of his blade.
Chucky and Tiffany – Bride of Chucky
It’s fitting that Tiffany’s last name is Valentine, as her introduction brought something to the series that we never expected; love. It’s the very human Tiffany that retrieves the remains of the Good Guy doll from police evidence and revives him via ritual. The reunited lovers gleefully embark on another murder spree, proving the couple that slays together, stays together. But two psychopathic killers don’t fight like normal couples, and between trapping Tiffany’s soul into her own murderous doll and the mundane chores of life, namely dishes, Tiffany and Chucky battle it out in the most violent ways. Throw in a fundamental difference on how to handle an unexpected pregnancy, and the volatile relationship between Tiffany and Chucky gets downright lethal.
Lola and Brent – The Loved Ones
Lola wants nothing more than to be the Princess her dad tells her she is, and find her Prince Charming. She decides that Brent is the one and invites him to the school dance. When he rejects her offer and she sees him with another girl, well, she decides she’ll get what she wants one way or another. Enlisting her father’s help, Brent is kidnapped and brutally tortured. After sticking a syringe full of bleach in Brent’s voice box, nailing his feet down to the floor, and carving in his skin, Lola decides love is a fickle thing and perhaps Brent isn’t the ideal prince after all. The truth is that maybe no one will love her as much as daddy, and that’s most terrifying of all.
Seth Brundle and Veronica Quaife – The Fly
Really one of horror’s most tragic love stories, and one that’s also more of an intriguing triangle than pair, David Cronenberg’s body horror remake runs the gamut of emotions. The initial sparks between journalist Veronica and quirky scientist Seth gives way to a full-blown relationship. But Seth harbors some insecurity toward Veronica’s relationship with her editor Stathis Borans, a former lover who clearly still has feelings for her. It’s an insecurity that’s dramatically heightened when Seth begins his metamorphosis into the Brundle-fly; the genetic merging of human and fly. As Veronica watches in horror as her lover’s nails and teeth begin falling out, his body becomes insect-like, and he starts vomiting digestive enzymes onto his food, her fears increase to unmanageable levels with the discovery that she’s pregnant by Seth. It’s the turning point that propels this twisted love story into gross-out catastrophe.
Marie and Alex – High Tension
Best friends Alex and Marie getaway to the countryside home of Alex’s family for a weekend of studying. It’s derailed quickly when a warped serial killer shows up and viciously slaughters Alex’s family. When the killer kidnaps Alex, Marie embarks on the most admirable quest to save her friend from the clutches of the most unnerving killers to come from the mind of Alexandre Aja in his breakout hit. True to its title, High Tension is one of the most intense cat and mouse games to watch unfold, and Marie’s desperation to save her friend is only rivaled by her fervent unrequited love for her best friend. It’s only once she finally does that Aja delivers one of horror’s most polarizing twists (obvious spoiler ahead): Marie’s obsession with her best friend has split her psyche in two; the perverse killer was really Marie all along. Alex might not return Marie’s love, but that won’t stop her from loving her any less. Crowbar to the chest and all.
Yoji and Sachiko – Meatball Machine
From the special effects artist, Yoshihiro Nishimura, who handled the insane gore effects from Tokyo Gore Police and The Machine Girl, this wacky Japanese sci-fi splatter film centers around the love story between Yoji and Sachiko. Yoji is a shy factory worker with an unrequited crush on co-worker Sachiko. When he discovers Sachiko being sexually assaulted by another co-worker, his attempt to save her ends in dismal failure, but it’s the effort that counts and she ends up going home with him. But Yoji’s been hiding a strange alien insect in his apartment, and the thing merges with Sachiko, turning her into a bio-mechanical monster. When Yoji is also infected, the two would-be lovers are forced to eventually fight to the death. Over the top ridiculous gore, violence, and sensory overload, Yoji and Sachiko’s star-crossed love story feels like an acid trip for the extreme. It’s brutal.
Frank Zito and Anna D’Antoni – Maniac (2012)
Co-written by Alexandre Aja and directed by Franck Khalfoun, this surprisingly good remake gives serial killer Frank a much more sympathetic persona, painting him as a sort of tragic character created by his traumatic upbringing. Frank wants to find love, using an online dating site to meet women. He just gets nervous, panics, and winds up scalping them instead. Enter Anna, a photographer that’s charmed by the antique mannequins in his storefront. The pair embark on a warm friendship that causes Frank to want more from Anna. So earnest is his crush on Anna that he even takes his jealousy out on other victims when he first meets Anna’s boyfriend, murdering Anna’s mentor instead (granted, she did mock him). Elijah Wood does such a great job humanizing Frank, that you actually believe him when he tells Anna he doesn’t want to hurt her upon being outed as a killer. Frank’s story is one of unrequited love, an outsider destined to be perpetually alone among his bloody collection of scalps.
Henry and Becky – Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
I know, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a chilling character study of a serial killer, not a love story. But you try telling that to Becky, the sister of Henry’s latest partner in crime. To Becky, a woman who recently fled from an abusive husband, Henry’s aloof persona and brutal honesty is attractive. She also has no idea that her brother, Otis, and Henry have been on a murder spree, sometimes even going so far as to film their exploits. For someone used to being the victim of overbearing, abusive men, Becky is charmed by Henry’s shy recoil of her seduction attempts. And when Henry saves her from Otis’ attempt to murder her, she’s completely head over heels smitten with her savior. Becky is the poster child when it comes to falling for the worst possible partners in love.
Frank and Anna – Beyond the Darkness
There’s perhaps no other romance more twisted than that of taxidermist Frank Wyler and his fiancée Anna. She dies in the hospital from a mysterious illness that, unbeknownst to Frank, is really a voodoo curse placed on her by Frank’s jealous housekeeper Iris. So beside himself with grief, Frank decides to taxidermize her to keep her with him forever. It’s gory and gross, as to be expected by director Joe D’Amato (of Video Nasty Anthropophagus fame), and only gets weirder as the story progresses. Iris takes creepy advantage of Frank’s grief, and together the pair get homicidal. There’s unsettling erotic breastfeeding, hacked up victims that are then dissolved in acid baths, and Frank even gets a little cannibalistic when victims don’t appreciate the preserved body of Anna. Sometimes losing the one you love can drive you to madness, but Frank takes it to a whole new, twisted level.
Asami Yamazaki and Shigeharu Aoyama – Audition
You’d be forgiven for watching the first half of Takashi Miike’s seminal film and forgetting that you’re watching horror at all. Miike lulls you into thinking you’re watching a quiet love story unfold between widower Shigeharu and the enchanting Asami. So deliberate in pacing, it’s easy to overlook the minor red flags that there’s something seriously amiss with his new-found love. The more he falls head over heels Asami, the more he wants to know about her past. The more he tugs at the threads of her past, the more her veneer unravels, until it builds into the most terrifying and explosive finale. Asami’s gleeful giggling as she uses piano wire to forever tether her new love to her is the stuff of nightmares. There’s nothing sweet or innocent at all about this sick tale of online dating gone horribly wrong.