My Top 10 Favorite Horrific Romances

By Joan Amenn

Joan gives us a list of her favourite romances from horror for Valentine’s Day!

1. “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992): A horror story based on eternal love complicated by the side effects of eternal life. Great art direction and Richard E. Grant is awesome as a psychologist stumped by patient Renfield’s obsession with flies.

Why I love it: Gary Oldman in blue tinted shades indulging in absinthe.

2. “Crimson Peak” (2015): When a tall, handsome stranger (Tom Hiddleston) professes his desire to take aspiring author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) away to his family mansion, what could possibly go wrong? Gothic and darkly beautiful, this is a romance that only Guillermo del Toro could tell and Jessica Chastain nearly walks away with the film as the dominating, manipulative Lucille.

Why I love it: The candlelight waltz with Tom Hiddleston.

Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska in Crimson Peak (2015) © Universal Pictures

3.  “Psycho” (1960): Yes, this is a horror-thriller, but a frustrated romance is the plot device that brings us to the Bates Motel. Poor Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) can’t get her boyfriend Sam (John Gavin) to commit, so what’s a girl to do but steal some money to fund the two of them running away together? Of course, this act of desperation would never have worked out even if Marion had never met that nice mother obsessed young man, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins).

Why I love it: A master class of how to make a great film of any genre.

4. “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (2007): The Mad Barber was terrorizing Broadway for years before he went Hollywood, but Tim Burton brings on the gloom and foreboding in this adaptation. Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman singing a duet probably didn’t seem promising on paper, but they’re amazing.

Why I love it: The art direction is stunning and Depp singing Sondheim is surprisingly good.

Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

5.  “Corpse Bride” (2005): Victor (Johnny Depp) has cold feet about his upcoming nuptials with Victoria (Emily Watson) and then someone new sweeps him off his feet straight to the Underworld with the rest of the unexpectedly jovial dead. Helena Bonham Carter is a scream as a lady who will not be denied the love and attention she knows she deserves.

Why I love it: Stop motion animated piano duets are the best kind of duets.

6. “Monsters, Inc.” (2001): He’s a green blob with one eye and she is also mono- sighted with snakes for hair. Mike (Billy Crystal) and Celia (Jennifer Tilly) don’t let trivialities get in the way of their affections. They scare together and care together.

monsters inc
Jennifer Tilly and Billy Crystal in Monsters, Inc. (2001)

Why I love it: Dinner at Harryhausen’s, just Celia and her “Googley-bear.”

7. “The Mummy” (1999): Love that endures centuries is romantic; love that triggers the return of the seven plagues to wipe out humanity cannot be considered to end well. Why this version? It’s the perfect first date movie with a gorgeous Rachel Weisz, cute Brendan Fraser and mysterious Oded Fehr. A whole lot of fun with great scares, humor and special effects that are still impressive.

Why I love it: A female librarian saves the world.

the mummu
Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in The Mummy (1999)

8.  “Shape of Water” (2017) An aquatic take on “Beauty and the Beast may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the ambiguity of the film’s end is especially poignant. Do we believe the hopeful voice over of a happy ending or is there always a price to pay for defending against bigotry?

Why I love it: The friendship between Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer

9.  “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935): As the song goes, “everybody needs somebody sometimes…” even the undead. The story of Dr. Frankenstein’s (Colin Clive) creation continues as we find the old lab fired up again to make the Monster (Boris Karloff) a mate (Elsa Lancaster). Tragically, the lovely bride shrieks, hisses and spits but does not succumb to the obvious charms of her suiter. “Bride of Frankenstein” is one sequel that actually outdoes the original with a great opening featuring author Mary Shelly (Elsa Lancaster, in a dual role) and her husband Percy (Douglas Walton) discussing her magnum opus with Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon).

Why I love it: Director James Whale was an underappreciated genius. Check out “The Invisible Man” (1933) and you’ll agree.

bride fan
Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester in Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

10. “Phantom of the Opera” (1925): Before Andrew Lloyd Webber was even born much less putting notes down on paper, the Phantom haunted the Paris Opera House. The famous reveal of Lon Chaney’s face is part of film history, of course. This version shows how powerful silent films could be and how much we lost now that so few remain.

Why I love it: The Phantom’s entrance as the Red Death at the Opera’s Masked Ball.


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