Another year, and with it another Valentine’s Day, a commercial holiday dedicated to love. Or rather, a holiday that markets spending a lot of money on flowers, chocolate, and prix fixe dinners to show you care. Luckily horror isn’t interested in saccharine feelings and romantic tradition. When it comes to love, horror often conveys how petrifying romance can really be. The sting of unrequited love, the pain of betrayal, and the despair of lost love are downright brutal and bloody in horror. But if even the idea of romance, no matter how gory or twisted, still induces eye-rolling, then these horror movies are the perfect antidote. Devoid of romance altogether, these movies offer up the ugliest aspects of relationships, or sometimes they just leave you feeling so repulsed romance will never even cross your mind. Either way, these 5 horror movies are perfect for an Anti-Valentine’s viewing and will have you swearing off romance.
Rosemary Woodhouse’s husband Guy seems like a doting fellow interested in making his wife happy. He lands them a nice apartment in the Bramford apartment building in New York City, and sends her over the moon with the suggestion that they have a baby together. Their night of passion turns into a hallucinogenic nightmare for Rosemary, who wakes up to find scratches all over her body. Guy simply shrugs it off, and explains her unconscious state wasn’t going to get in the way of potential conception. What? That alone would be enough of a red flag, but throughout the film he continues to gaslight her until the horrifying truth is revealed – he sold out his wife’s womb to the devil for a chance at a successful acting career. Guy Woodhouse is the worst, and Rosemary’s Baby shatters any image you may have of idyllic marriages.
The perfect antidote to the romcom, Frank Henenlotter’s Basket Case is a comedic yet scary slice of low budget horror. Duane Bradley carries around a large, locked wicker basket in New York City, which contains his deformed Siamese twin Belial. The brothers are seeking revenge against the doctors that separated them against their will, but the only problem is that Duane might have also found love. The rage-filled Belial is having none of it, though, and his resentment toward his normal-looking brother grows. This is especially bad news for Sharon, the nurse that Duane has gotten involved with. Dating is scary stuff in general, but especially so if the seemingly sweet person your dating is carrying around their homicidal sibling in a basket. Sometimes dating isn’t worth it.
Teeth may be a horror comedy, but it successfully induces anxiety on all levels. For teen Dawn, she’s a firm believer in abstinence with a major crush on fellow Christian abstinence group member Toby. When Toby gets way too aggressive in his reciprocation of her feelings, to the point of physical violence and assault, Dawn discovers she has a vagina dentata – her lady bits have one vicious defense mechanism. Toby’s penis is severed and he’s left for dead, but that’s only the beginning of Dawn’s troubles with sexually aggressive men. Navigating burgeoning teen sexuality and unwanted sexual advances has never had such, well, vicious bite.
Jessie and her husband Gerald are looking to rekindle their marriage via isolated cabin getaway, a pair handcuffs, and a rape fantasy. It doesn’t take long at all before the scenario becomes too uncomfortable for Jessie, who pleads with her husband to free her from the handcuffs locked on to the bedframe. Gerald isn’t happy with her refusal to play along, and winds up dying from a heart attack mid-argument. With no one around for miles to save her, Jessie faces starvation, dehydration, inner demons from her past, and much, much worse. So, Gerald’s Game serves as a reminder that romance eventually fades, and that perhaps it’s best to start small when trying to spice up your love life.
Where to even begin with Lars von Trier’s experimental horror film on tragedy, nature, and inherent evil? At the center of this hallucinatory descent into madness is a couple attempting to revive their troubled marriage after the tragic death of their toddler. Because this is a von Trier film, it’s never quite that simple and clear cut. Genital mutilation, sexual violence, self-disemboweling foxes, and ever-looming dread and darkness ensues as von Trier seems to plead a case for the evil nature of womanhood. It’s graphic, often cringe-worthy, and an absolute journey into despair. Few cinematic depictions of struggling marriages will have your stomach in knots quite like this one. Chaos reigns.