Movies like Sweeney Todd and Midsommar are great at delivering horror, but they can also bring a certain romantic aspect to the story.
Horror and romancemay seem like an odd pair, but the two genres have managed to intertwine successfully for almost as long as they've been around. The notion of fear and evil forces alongside the emotionally taxing and intimate elements of a romantic relationship has been used to mine countless amounts of drama and, yes, frightening situations.
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From the early German Expressionist classics of the silent era to the modern independent films that have a foot in both camps, the endless fodder of the horror film that is actually a romance film has given the industry some gems. These are the top ten horror films that are actually romance films, as ranked by Rotten Tomatoes Critic Scores.
One of the best and corniest 80s teen-horror films,Joel Schumacher'sThe Lost Boysis the prime-rib of goofy matinee entertainment. Essentially a "fish out of water" story with vampires,The Lost Boys is about a single mother who brings her two teenage sons to a strange coastal town that happens to be overrun with teenage-biker-vampire-punks, led by a scene-chewing Kiefer Sutherland.
Of course, the oldest son falls in love with the girlfriend of Sutherland's head vampire, which leads to some seriously 1987 antics. Fun, silly, and a blast to watch,The Lost Boysis a teen melodrama disguised as a vamp-flick.
Leigh Janiak made her debut withHoneymoon, a minimalist horror romance that uses tropes of the body horror genre to make a statement about fresh marriages.Game of Thrones starRose Leslie plays a newlywed bride to Harry Treadaway's husband. The lovely couple decides to take their honeymoon on a secluded lake with a quaint little cabin.
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Soon, Leslie's character goes missing in the dense woods, only to reemerge naked and...changed. What follows is a deftly handled mix of body horror and psychological slow burn that culminates in a truly shocking climax.
On the surface,Candymanis a cerebral slasher film with a killer Philip Glass score. However, just below the surface is a transcendent romance film about a mythological killer seeking a companion to add to the legend that keeps him alive.
It's all pretty heady stuff, especially for a mainstream 90s slasher film, but the melancholic romantic edge imbued in the titular character elevates the film to near-arthouse existentialism. Though a romance in disguise,Candymanis still damn scary and a timeless exploration of the power of myth.
Maestro of gore and all thing freaky Takashi Miike produced what is arguably his magnum opus at the end of the decade with this horror classic. After a widower decides to try dating again, he tries a bizarre technique where he literally auditions women to be his new girlfriend.
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Of course, after he chooses the mysterious Asami, the film takes a deeply unsettling turn into horror territory, arriving at one of the genre's most infamous climaxes. That withstanding, the film is still primarily a violent fable on the danger of falling in love too fast.
Following up one of the most layered and acclaimed horror films in recent memory withHereditarywas no easy task for Ari Aster. However, his sophomore featureMidsommarproved to be just as talked-about and dissected as his debut.
The film's unique palette of folk horror and breakup romantic drama made for a compelling psychedelic epic that demands to be seen more than once. Florence Pugh is remarkable in the lead as a grieving student who accompanies her boyfriend and his friends on a trip to Sweden. Beneath all of theWicker Man-esque antics, there is a deep and emotional deep-dive into how grief can rip apart trust in a relationship.
Filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead achieved a near-perfect blend of indie romance, European travelogue, and creature-feature-body-horror with this 2014 festival hitSpring (which is appropriately titled given the lush scenery).A loner decides to get away from his grief and dangerous living circumstances by traveling to Europe.
Once in Italy, he falls in love with a mysterious woman named Louise, who may or may not be an ancient shapeshifting Lovecraftian monster. An emotionally involving horror movie that is less about the horror than it is about the relationship between Evan and Louise,Springput the filmmakers on the indie horror radar.
Perhaps the last truly great film that Tim Burton has directed as of 2021,Sweeney Toddis a lush and dark adaption of Steven Sondheim's gothic musical about a murderous barber who seeks revenge against the individuals who have wronged him.
Johnny Depp stars as the titular character, and he is joined by an astoundingly good Helena Bonham Carter as Ms. Lovett, a piemaker who sees a cannibalistic business opportunity in Todd's revenge tactics. At its core, the film is about obsession, lust, and the very nature of love itself. Brilliant, funny, heartbreaking, and visually stunning, the film is a modern favorite.
An underseen indie film from 2019,After Midnightis a piece about the times in a relationship when everything seems uncertain and the nature of the relationship in question becomes a larger question about one's self in general. Of course, there's also a crazy looking creature stalking the treelines in the dead of night.
A nicely intelligent mixture of soul searching drama, the Benson and Moorehead-producedAfter Midnighthas shades of their aforementioned filmSpring, but with its own identity and gritty philosophy sewn into the more thrilling creature sequences.
A humorless and pitch-black descent into the worst of humanity's impulses and desires, the Australian filmHounds of Love is truly a tough watch for even the most jaded horror fan. Less of a gratuitous gorefest and more of a psychological nightmare, the film tells the based-on-a-true-story of a couple who get their kicks by kidnapping, torturing, and murdering young women.
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While the concept seems like torture porn fodder, the result is a nuanced look into the lover and accomplice of an evil murderer who must weigh her basic human ethics against the love she has for her partner. It is dark, dark stuff, but executed with precision and confidence.
The original version ofThe Flyin 1958 was a B-Movie minor classic. However, David Cronenberg's loose remake of the film in 1986 is an outright cinematic stroke of pure genius.
A freaky and profoundly sad quasi-fairy-tale about a scientist who accidentally merges his DNA with that of a common housefly, Cronenberg's vision of the material is a vision of true love slipping away and the inherent betrayal of the body. Both a rousing allegory and a gross-out slice of body horror,The Flyis one of the best films of the decade and a profound piece of romantic horror sci-fi weirdness.
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John Wells is a writer, poet, and filmbuff from Asheville, NC. He is currently pursuing a degree in Film Studies from Western Carolina University. Oftentimes John can be found perched behind his laptop screen arguing about movies (when he isn't watching them, that is). His other interests include performing with his poetry-band, reading super out there books, and arguing philosophy with his dog.
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