Ah love. Stupid, stupid love.
All the great stories are love stories. The passion and the pain all lie at the heart of immortal drama. Indeed, love is the engine that moves the heart of the world.
Back up. Horror and romance? Could those two emotions more opposed? Well, yeah, consider that the "heart" of all horror (if you'll pardon the expression) is the characters. Many horror movies tell surprisingly engaging love stories, even if they often don't end well. I've come up with a list of my favorite romances in horror. As always, feel free to add to this list.
The Monster and The Bride from Bride of Frankenstein
The classic tragic horror romance. Frankenstein's poor monster wants nothing more than a companion to share his horrible existence with. After a campaign of torment and brutality, Dr. Frankenstein capitulates and builds a bride for his monster. The Bride takes one look at her intended betrothed and screams in terror. For the damned creations of Frankenstein's madness, there is no relief from loneliness.
Tiffany and Chucky from Bride of Chucky
I always liked the Child's Play movies. For a series about a kickable doll, the movies were genuinely scary, mostly due to Chucky's amoral viciousness. Chucky always felt like a supernatural variation of one of those cross country spree-killers. With Bride of Chucky, Mickey finally got his Mallory.
Chucky and Tiffany are much like what I imagine Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate would be like. They're deeply passionate for each other, but that passion often turns violent. Tiffany in particular seems to be let down by the fact that Chucky isn't the man she made him out to be in memory. Their relationship make for some rich dark comedy and heaven help those who get between them.
Julia and Frank from Hellraiser
The horror genre is rife with cheatin' women.
Remember all those Tales from the Crypt stories where some woman conspires with her lover to kill her husband, only to have supernatural vengeance befall them. Hellraiser takes that trope to the farthest borders of sensation as it tells the story of Frank and Julia.
Julia and Frank f--k. F--king is central to the Hellraiser mythology, as demonic S&M monsters offer unparalleled sensual delights to the hedonists who seek them. Frank had already crossed over into the Cenobite's perverse realm and reaches out to his former lover in an attempt to escape.
Julia spends most of the movie as a wicked stepmother, cold and aloof to her family. Frank's return reignites her passion and she follows him down the path to damnation. It doesn't work out in the end and there's betrayal and brutality, but few pairings match Frank and Julia for raw, twisted sexuality.
Kristen and James from The Strangers
I like to think of this one as a snapshot moment in a relationship.
Kristen and James were at a wedding. Romance was in the air and the two seemed like a happy couple. James pops the question. Kristen turns him down. They go back to James' parents house. James had decorated the place with candles and roses and other stuff to celebrate their unfulfilled engagement. The gesture, while sweet, makes everything more awkward after the rejection. While they're dealing with their emotions, a bunch of psychotic kids show up. We have a movie.
I have been where James and Kristen have been. I've run up into those moments where I had to stop and consider what my relationship meant and whether or not it could survive. Their awkwardness and sadness resonated with me. They're not mad at each other, but you see them walking around in a daze, trying to put words to the things they are feeling.
We never learn why Kristen rejected James' proposal and their relationship comes to a very tragic ending, but I cared about them very deeply and I wanted them to make it. Too bad the Dark Gods of Narrative aren't as sentimental as I am.
Tina and Nick from Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood
This one may be a cheat.
We never see any obvious declarations of love between Tina, the troubled psychic and Kevin, the bad boy turned good. They never hold hands and watch the sunrise over Crystal Lake. But both of them are outsiders, neither of them fit into the respective groups that come visiting the lake. They do have some nice moments of connection before the mayhem starts. Kevin was one of the few males to survive a Friday the 13th movie and that has to mean something, right?
I like to think that, once the wounds are healed and the trauma is dealt with, the two of them could find some kind of peace with each other. Tina definitely deserves it. Bad News Krews certainly wasn't helping her out.
James and Mary from Silent Hill 2
Considered by many to be the high point of the Silent Hill series, Silent Hill 2 set up most of the tropes that continued through the later entries, particularly the idea that Silent Hill is a purgatory for people haunted by their past.
The story centers around James, who receives a letter from his dead wife telling him to meet her in the fog-shrouded town of Silent Hill. As the story continues, we discover that James' wife suffered a long illness and he smothered her with a pillow, ostensibly to prevent her from suffering further. When he arrives in Silent Hill, manifestations of his guilt come alive to punish him for his actions. The player makes choices in-game that determine what kind of ending James gets. Most of them aren't good.
Silent Hill 2 is an amazing horror story. The visuals are genuinely chilling, and the story of lost love and crippling guilt is genuinely heartbreaking, framed by some of the most chilling scenes I've ever experienced in the genre.
Dracula and Mina from Bram Stoker's Dracula
In Stoker's novel, Mina was simply Dracula's victim. Later interpretations of the story made Mina the reincarnation of Dracula's lost love, which added a layer of pathos to the old predator. No one ever did this aspect of the story better than Francis Ford Coppola.
Bram Stoker's Dracula is an operatic film. The cinematography is sumptuous, dark choirs fill the sound track, the costumes are lush, and the performances are grand. This is one of the best horror romances captured on film.
Did we miss any favorites? Let us know in the comments. And have a happy Valentine's Day!