Posted by Christina Harlin
My favorite holiday is coming! Each Halloween I indulge one of my great weaknesses: the horror movie. Looking over my list of possible rentals for this year, I noticed that romance and horror don’t often mix. Of all the scary movies I’ve seen, very few of them contain a memorable love story. Horror movies are typically anti-romantic, as scares come from people being estranged, alone, or betrayed. After all, it’s kind of hard to make an audience feel terrified when there is a sexy romance cooking up. And these days, as often as not, a movie-couple’s romance can be destroyed by that perpetual deal-breaker: one of them ends up trying to kill the other. Ah well.
To celebrate Halloween, horror and romance, I’ve made another list! These are some scary-movie romances I have found memorable.
Poltergeist (1982). Now considered a classic, this haunted-house-in-suburbia movie is famous for the snow-screened tv set, the diminutive psychic, the scary-as-hell clown doll and little Carol Ann’s “They’re heee-eeere.” Easy to forget that the parents of the household, played by Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams, are a loving, happily married couple who never stoop to blaming or bickering when their lives are turned upside down. They support each other to the end, fight for the safety of their children, and act as a unit in all things. One of the best portrayed movie marriages I have ever seen, and done effortlessly.
Tremors (1990). A horror/comedy masterpiece, and one of my favorite movies, Tremors’ simple plot isolates a small town of lovable oddballs with some underground maneating monsters and lets the fun happen. The aimless slacker Val, played so nicely by Kevin Bacon, has a stereotypical image of the perfect girl and it ain’t grad-student Rhonda, who is brainy and brave, and keeps up with the guys step-for-step in saving their necks. What these two have in common, I’m not sure, but their chemistry is a delight, and the movie knows it. You can tell by the ending shot.
The Frighteners (1996). An early effort by Peter Jackson, this movie has some mixed reviews. I liked it a lot because it is imaginative and entertaining. Michael J. Fox plays a man who can “see dead people” thanks to his own near-death experience when he lost his wife. Now a grief-stricken, guilt-ridden con artist, he plays at exorcisms until an afterlife threat strikes his home town. He becomes tentatively involved with a beautiful widow whose own husband was a victim. Their romance is underplayed, but each strikes a chord in the other, and she can obviously heal his broken heart.
Near Dark (1987). A cult classic, this is a modern-day vampire tale. A young man, played by Adrian Pasdar, is smitten with and then bitten by a lovely sweet vampire who runs with a very tough crowd through the skanky bars of the southwest. He must gain acceptance by her murderous group and then he must find a way to rescue them both; understandably he is not thrilled about the notion of taking lives. Fun and gory, worth watching for the appearances of Lance Henrikson and Bill Paxton.
The Company of Wolves (1984). Another love-it-or-hate it movie, this early Neil Jordan film is one of the best fairy-tales I’ve ever seen filmed. It’s a hodgepodge of werewolf stories, with a great Little Red Riding Hood retelling at its core. There is no specific romance, or maybe there is, if you like your coming-of-age tales to be extremely Freudian. The atmosphere is really the most romantic thing about it, highly charged with the sexual curiosity of a young woman faced with a very, very dangerous man.
Dracula (1979). Frank Langella. Is. The. Hottest. Dracula. Ever. Nuff said.
Wolf (1994). Another imperfect movie, but Jack Nicholson and Michele Pfeiffer have a powerful love story in the midst of the hoopla: she’s an ice princess, he’s a nice guy who is also a werewolf, and you can totally believe that they would find each other irresistible.
Tale of a Vampire (1992). Some folks find this vampire romance starring the prettier-than-his-costar Julian Sands to be dull, but I liked its centuries-spanning love story. Julian is a lonely vampire who once had his true love stolen from him; now in modern days he finds her lookalike and does his best to win her—though his seduction skills are a bit on the toothy and unpracticed side. Enter into the picture a mysterious troublemaker who is determined to thwart their odd romance. Very atmospheric and sexy, and a good bet for anglophiles.
Let me know what you think. Let me know of any I have forgotten. Then, go out and rent some scary movies!