Perhaps you’re single this Valentine’s Day. Maybe you’re just sick of the candy-coated, red-and-white-draped nightmare that is February 14. I don’t know about you, but if I see one more heart shaped greeting card, I may scream.
When you’re single, Valentine’s Day is like seeing neon signs flashing “You’re Single! What’s Wrong With You?!” everywhere that you go. Alternatively, when you’re in a relationship, Valentine’s Day is that day every year where you feel stressed and pressured to show your significant other that you love them, no matter how many ways you do that the rest of the year.
It’s a lose-lose situation, and I don’t know about you, but it’s only February 1 and this holiday is already getting really old, really fast.
But then it gets worse. You can already picture it – you’ve spent the day out and about, adrift in a sea of lace-covered pink teddy bears, looking forward to nothing more than arriving home, putting your feet up, and relaxing in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn and maybe a little wine (or a lot, depending on how badly those cute, little, lace-covered bastards got to you).
Excited, you reach for the remote, turn on the TV, and flip through your options.
And that’s when you lose it.
The Notebook. Sleepless in Seattle. Ghost. Love Story. It. Just. Never. Stops.
This is where I come in!
This list is designed to give you a daily horror alternative to the endless barrage of Nora Ephron and cookie cutters rom-coms. Don’t get me wrong….I enjoy a good guilty pleasure romance now and then. But for me, February is NOT one of those times. If you’re also drowning in the syrupy sweetness of Valentine’s Day, join me in my life raft…there’s plenty of room!
‘My Bloody Valentine’ So, this one comes as no surprise! This is THE Valentine’s horror movie. Both the 1981 Canadian baby and the 2009 3D remake are schlocky fun. People give the remake a hard time, but this story of a killer with a pick axe in a mining town running amok is a lot of fun and super fast-paced. There is also a surprising amount of gore for a run of the mill slasher flick including a hospital slaughter in the first few minutes, and an almost uncomfortably long scene in which a victim is chased through a hotel completely naked before being killed.
‘Spring’ This one is a very unexpected indie horror movie. When Evan’s mother passes away, he is left with no family and a crappy job. He decides to do what he and his father had resolved to do years before – go to Italy. After deciding to settling in a small, coastal tourist town, he meets a lovely young lady studying evolutionary genetics. And that’s when things get monster-y. This one is a great hidden gem starring Lou Taylor Pucci, one of my favourites. Perfect if you like a romance with a bit of Lovecraft.
‘Girls Against Boys’ I really enjoyed this one! This one starts with a girl being dumped by her married boyfriend. She works at a bar, and one of the girls there suggests that they go out and have some fun. She ends up being assaulted by one of the guys they go out with, and when the police are less than helpful, the two take matters into their own hands. What I thought made this different from the usual revenge fodder is that once the revenge is taken, the bloodbath continues. I thought it was interesting in that it took the further step of seeing what happens after revenge is taken and it hasn’t changed anything. This one gets added points for avoiding the trappings of being an “all guys are jerks” kind of movie.
‘Cloverfield’ Hear me out! I know that at first glance, this monster movie does not seem like it has anything to say about love, relationships or couples whatsoever. But the premise is actually based around a love story. When friends are together at a party, the attack begins. However, it is set up before the action that there is a delicate love story happening between the lead and a girl that he is great friends with. They have recently developed their relationship into something more, but he is planning on moving overseas, and she has decided not to come to the party because it will be too difficult to see him off. When monsters attack, this group of friends head across town to rescue the damsel in distress. While the ending to this love story is bittersweet to say the least, it really is an excellent monster movie.
‘Fear’ ‘Fear’ is one of those movies that walks that fine line between thriller and horror. I’m including it here because that scene with the dog’s head scarred my little impressionable teen self for life. This one tells the story of a relationship between two teens that takes a dark turn when he becomes obsessed with her. The tension builds in this one as he exploits her stressed relationship with her father and her stepmother and plays the family off of each other. This one is scary because anyone can relate to how horrific a feeling it would be to have the person that you trusted most turn on you in a second.
‘Rosemary’s Baby’ Who can forget Rosemary Woodhouse screaming, “What have your done to its eyes???!!!!” when she finally gets a look at her little bundle of joy? Marriage is not all it’s cracked up to be in this story of a first time mother to be who suspects that her seemingly sweet neighbours are up to something just a little bit sinister. Added bonus of introducing us to one of the most selfish husbands of all time, Guy Woodhouse. A beautiful dream that quickly turns into a nightmare, this one takes you on a journey that shows the beautiful home, the 2.5 kids and the perfect husband are not always all they’re cracked up to be.
‘Let the Right One In’ This one is truly the most bizarrely touching coming of age/love story I have ever seen, but that doesn’t make it any less effective! Just remember, Romeo and Juliet had a fair amount of blood in it, too. An oddly sweet story of two misfits who find each other – one is a socially awkward tween, the other is a vampire tween. And before you start rolling your eyes at how ‘Twilight’ that sounds, believe me, this is no ‘Twilight’. If subtitles aren’t your bag (and if so, I cannot stress enough how sad that makes me), the US remake, Let Me In, is actually a pretty close second for quality. This one is a quiet, slow build, and violence happens brutally and unexpectedly. This one is a unique look at the bonds of love and loyalty, and just how far people will go to protect each other.
‘Candyman’ Tony Todd’s performance as the titular Candyman is so creepy and iconic that it is easy to forget that this is THE story of love gone wrong. Clive Barker’s involvement should be a big hint that this story does NOT go well for the characters involved. ‘Candyman’ is sort of a twist on Bloody Mary, appearing after you say his name five times into a mirror. Before he became Candyman, he was the son of a slave and an artist who had a love affair with a white woman. When their relationship resulted in pregnancy, he was lynched, covered in honey, and stung to death by bees. Ah, romance! If that doesn’t make you feel better about being single, Helen’s (Virginia Madsen) husband Trevor is an instantly unlikable slimeball. This is one twisted tale of love, revenge, and sacrifice, and the vicious cycles that can be created by all three.
‘All the Boys Love Mandy Lane’ Now, I will be up front and tell you that ‘All the Boys Love Mandy Lane’ is not the greatest movie on this list. That didn’t stop me from watching it more than once, of course, and it grew on me with re-watches. Amber Heard plays the lovely, innocent Mandy Lane, who is invited by some arguably dubious friends to come to an out of the way vacation home. The friends are dubious in that the boys are arguing over who will hook up with her, and the girls seem oddly okay with it. An obsessive stalker shows up and begins picking off the teens one by one. This one is a great example of how hormone driven teens are prone to make sex the the be-all end-all in their lives, and also how love can be easily manipulated.
‘Bride of Chucky’ I have an unnatural soft spot for ‘Bride of Chucky’. Bonnie and Clyde they ain’t, but they sure are creepy and evil! ‘Bride of Chucky’ was the first clear attempt to veer the ‘Child’s Play’ franchise into humour, and it does it solidly and effectively in this horror-comedy featuring the murderous and horrifying couple of Chucky and Tiffany. Chucky’s face in this one after Tiffany sews it together is enough to creep anyone out. For all their bluster, arguing, and creative killing (including a memorable scene involving John Ritter and a nail gun), these two are also clearly deeply in love and very passionate. A little too passionate, one could argue, but that’s all part of the fun!
‘Horns’ At the heart of this oddball horror is a very sweet, tragic tale of fate and true love. When Ig Parrish’s girlfriend is murdered, he instantly becomes the number one suspect. Devastated by loss, he goes into a downward spiral. On the anniversary of her death, he discovers that he has sprouted a pair of horns that seem to have the power to compel those who see them to tell their deepest, darkest secrets. Embracing his newfound ability, he seeks to find her killer. Even though the Joe Hill novel was superior to the movie version of this story, it is still enormously entertaining, and worth the watch for a unique, quirky, and darkly funny love story.
‘Witches of Eastwick’ The classic story of three women who unknowingly summon the Devil to their sleepy east coast town. This one has it all – lust, adultery, insanity and some serious girl power to boot. Perfect for anyone who likes a cheater to get some comeuppance! This one has the added bonus of having a definite ick factor in one very memorable scene – cherries, anyone?
‘Bite’ If you’re looking for an ick factor to spruce up your Valentine’s Day, this is the one for you. While this one is not ‘Saw’-level gory, it is gross. There is a lot of….well, goo. Buckets upon buckets upon buckets of goo, used very creatively and effectively. When three ladies go on an exotic vacation for one last hurrah during a bachelorette weekend, the bride to be is bitten by an unknown insect and begins a transformation into….well, you’ll see. Amidst this tale of body horror is also a tale of relationships – betrayal, friendship, and wedding day jitters play heavily amongst the young lady’s transformation, all adding up to a finale that is gooey, surprising and definitely more bite than bark.
‘What Lies Beneath’ This movie is a great example of how under-stated horror works. In this ghost story, tension is slowly built as a woman believes that there is a ghost in her house after her daughter leaves for college. She is unsure of who the ghost is, at first, and as the movie progresses she begins to believe that it may have a link to her husband. This one reminds me a lot of a modern Hitchcock movie both in how it is shot and how information is slowly revealed to the audience.