With Valentine’s Day arriving next week, we here at Arrow in the Head decided that this was a good time to put together a list of some of the Best Horror Movies to Watch on Valentine’s Day. The movies listed below all deal with love, romance, or infatuation in some way, ranging from stories of love-hungry killers to films with lead characters who are in sweet, wholesome relationships. Check it out, and let us know if you have any suggestions for movies to watch on Valentine’s Day!
THE MUMMY (1932)
While future entries in Universal’s Mummy franchise would (until the more recent reboots) present the character as a bandage-wrapped monster that likes to strangle people and carry women around, Karl Freund’s 1932 version of The Mummy allowed the legendary Boris Karloff to give more of a performance in the title role. Ditching his bandages after being released from his tomb, Karloff’s Imhotep goes back to work trying to do what he was killed for attempting in 1730 B.C.: he wants to resurrect his lost love, Princess Anck-es-en-Amon. As it turns out, by 1932 the Princess has been reincarnated as Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann), and Helen quickly falls under the powerful spell of the lovesick Imhotep. This could have been a sweet story of lovers being reunited after centuries, and after death, if not for the fact that Imhotep will have to kill Helen and mummify her so he and the Princess can be properly reunited. That adds some bad feelings into the mix.
LOVE AND MONSTERS (2020)
Set seven years after an event that wiped out at least 95% of the human race and left the Earth’s surface populated by giant, mutated versions of cold-blooded creatures (frogs, bugs, worms, you name it), Michael Matthews’ Love and Monsters stars Dylan O’Brien as Joel, who was on a date with Aimee (Jessica Henwick) when the apocalypse hit. The pair were split up, and it took Joel all this time to find out his lost love is alive and staying in a colony that’s 85 miles from the one he lives in. Although Joel has a tendency to freeze in fear whenever he sees a monster, he’s so eager to see Aimee again that he risks his life and starts making his way across the monster-filled countryside. Joel and Aimee don’t have a lot of screen time together, but the whole adventure is done in the name of love, and this movie is a pleasant watch, amusing and entertaining. Joel meets some fun characters along the way, including an awesome dog and a survivor played by the great Michael Rooker.
NEAR DARK (1987)
Vampires go well with romance stories, but the story Kathryn Bigelow and Eric Red crafted with Near Dark is not about someone being seduced by a suave, smooth-talking bloodsucker. Country boy Caleb (Adrian Pasdar) spots Mae (Jenny Wright) during a night out on the town and quickly falls for this soft-spoken, mysterious, kind of strange girl. By dawn, Mae has turned Caleb into a vampire – but it’s not just the two of them in this situation. Mae travels with a hardcore pack of vampires (Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, and Joshua Miller), some of whom have been slashing throats and drinking blood for over a hundred years, and Caleb is given a week to prove that he can join them. Given that he can’t bring himself to kill anyone, that’s not going to work, but at least he has Mae by his side as he tries to find a way out of this situation. Some terrific scenes of violence and action ensue.
RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III (1993)
Curt Reynolds (J. Trevor Edmond) and Julie Walker (Melinda Clarke) are just a pair of annoying kids when we’re introduced to them in Brian Yuzna’s Return of the Living Dead III. Curt is rebelling against his military father, Julie is his wild child girlfriend, and they’re planning to run off to Seattle together to experience the ’90s grunge scene. But then tragedy strikes, soon after they find out that Curt’s father is heading up a plan to drop zombies into the battlefield. Julie dies in a motorcycle accident, so Curt turns her into a zombie – and that’s when the couple becomes people we can really care about. While Curt does his best to keep Julie safe, and to keep others safe from her, Julie tries to hold on to her humanity by mutilating herself to fight off the intense hunger she feels. Yuzna and the cast do a great job conveying the emotion of the situation, and by the end Julie has turned herself into an unforgettable, iconic character.
Based on writer/director Clive Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart, Hellraiser stars Clare Higgins as Julia Cotton, a woman who would do anything for her man. No, not her husband Larry (Andrew Robinson), but Larry’s filthy, sleazy brother Frank (Sean Chapman), who first managed to seduce her right before she married Larry. Julia is so enamored with her brother-in-law that she’s willing to murder people in cold blood so he can consume them and regenerate his flesh after being torn apart by “extra-dimensional beings” called Cenobites when he solved a supernatural puzzle box. There’s no point in the film when Julia or Frank are even remotely likeable, and Frank clearly doesn’t care about anybody, but there’s no question that Julia feels drawn to him in a major way. If someone standing by the one they love even when they’re a skinless creature with monsters on their trail isn’t a love story for the ages, I don’t know what is.
Urban Legend director Jamie Blanks returned to the slasher subgenre for Valentine, which happens to be set around Valentine’s Day and involves a blade-wielding killer in a cherub mask stalking a group of women (Marley Shelton, Jessica Capshaw, Denise Richards, Jessica Cauffiel, and Katherine Heigl) who were involved with a young boy’s humiliating, reputation-destroying experience at a junior high school dance ten years earlier. Valentine has a goofy sense of humor that can sometimes be cringe-inducing, but there are some very cool sequences involving the cherub-masked killer. Including one that’s set in a morgue, with the killer looking for their intended victim among a bunch of corpse-filled body bags, and another that puts together the ill-advised mixture of a hot tub and a power tool. There are better Valentine’s Day-themed slashers out there, but this one still deserves a place in the Valentine’s Day horror marathon.
THE CONJURING (2013)
Anyone who thinks The Conjuring is an odd choice to include on a list of horror love stories would be overlooking my favorite element of the film. Sure, director James Wan did a great job of making the story of the Perron family being haunted by the spirit of a witch as creepy as possible, but even with all of its jumps and unnerving moments in place The Conjuring wouldn’t have worked nearly as well for me if not for the way it presents the relationship between paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). Wilson and Farmiga have such great chemistry, the love their characters have is clear in every scene, in every line they exchange, in the concern they show, in the way they look at each other. It’s something beautiful in the midst of a relentless onslaught of scares. It’s also there in The Conjuring 2, if you want to make it a double feature.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)
My favorite film of 2008, director Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In is another vampire love story, but a rather innocent one, even though the film features plenty of death and bloodshed. The lead character in this Swedish production is Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), a 12-year-old who comes from a broken home, has no friends, and is bullied at school. When an odd kid named Eli (Lina Leandersson) moves into his apartment building, they become friends and Oskar develops a crush. Eli is not as young as she appears to be, she’s a vampire who has been around for quite a while, but that doesn’t make her interactions with Oskar any less sweet. This is a great coming-of-age story about a kid in desperate need of attention and friendship meeting someone special, who improves his life and teaches him to stand up for himself. There are certainly dark edges to Oskar and Eli’s relationship, but there’s a lot of beauty to it as well.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986)
Okay, so the “love story” in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 isn’t even slightly romantic, but if director Tobe Hooper had pushed the relationship dramedy aspect of this film any further it could have been called The Bride of Leatherface. To tie up loose ends, Leatherface has been sent by his family to kill radio D.J. Vanita “Stretch” Brock (Caroline Williams), but he can’t bring himself to do it because it’s love – and very twisted lust – at first sight. Every time Stretch encounters Leatherface, she has to treat it like they’re in a relationship, even trying to let the chainsaw-wielding maniac down gently with a classic “it’s nobody’s fault” break-up speech. She ends up being introduced to his family and invited to dinner, while Leatherface’s brother Chop-Top (Bill Moseley) teases him for having a girlfriend. There’s a very unexpected and quite funny parody of young love at the heart of this insane, brilliant movie.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981)
No Valentine’s Day is complete without a viewing of George Mihalka’s slasher classic My Bloody Valentine. The story is set in the small mining town of Valentine Bluffs, which used to have a Valentine’s Day dance every year, until a miner killed some people and warned the town to never have the dance again. Well, twenty years have passed, so now the town is planning to bring the dance back. That’s a mistake, because someone in a mining uniform starts knocking people off again. Not only does this film feature an anti-Valentine’s Day slasher killing people in a town that goes all-out for the holiday, it also has a love triangle at its core, as miners T.J. (Paul Kelman) and Axel (Neil Affleck) fight over local girl Sarah (Lori Hallier), who used to date T.J. and is now with Axel. There’s a 2009 remake of My Bloody Valentine that is worth checking out as well.