Horror movies aren’t only about hacking and slashing. Sometimes they’re about love and all of the wonderful, terrible things that occur when two people meet each other and evil forces are afoot. And the will-they-won’t-they tension of the plain old romantic movie is intensified when will-they-won’t-they-survive is added to the mix.
Here are 13 of some of the more romantic horror movies I’ve seen. It’s not an exhaustive list, so add your suggestions in the comments section, below. I’d love to see any movie that makes my heart pound in both sympathy and agony.
A shout-out to Red White and Blue and other romantic horror films that have no supernatural elements. Another shout-out to movies like Thirst, Cat People and The Hunger, which are more about lust than love.
The Mummy (1932)
In ancient Egypt, Imhotep’s lover Ankh-es-en-amon has died, so Imhotep risks the wrath of Thoth and steals his life-giving scroll. He is captured as he tries to raise her from the dead and is mummified for his unholy act.
In present-day Egypt, Imhotep is accidentally revived, and soon there are corpses where people used to be. After taking on the identity of Ardeth Bay, a man with an uncanny knowledge of ancient burial sites, he meets Helen Grosvenor, the reincarnated form of his lost love. His dastardly yet heart-wrenching plan: Kill Helen so that Ankh-es-en-amon is restored and his love might live again.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
In this 1992 film version, which deviates quite a bit from the original Bram Stoker novel, Dracula is both a creature of the night and a hopeless romantic. Here he travels from Transylvania to London in 1892 and meets Mina Murray, the fiancee of his solicitor, Jonathan Harker.
Dracula is instantly smitten, in no small part due to her resemblance to his late wife Elisabeta, who committed suicide and was damned for it. He almost seduces Mina with the heart-stopping line “I have crossed oceans of time to find you.” In the book, Mina was Dracula’s victim; in the movie, she goes to him willingly.
When you consider that the tepid Jonathan was played by Keanu Reeves and Dracula was played by the spectacular Gary Oldman, it’s no wonder Mina made the choice she did.
Let the Right One In (2008)
Swedish movie Let the Right One In is one of your more unconventional romances: Oskar is only 12 years old, and Eli has been 12 years old ... for a very long time. But while Oskar as an outcast and Eli is a bloodsucking fiend from hell, their connection and affection is very real.
You’ll never find a more heartwarming tale with entrails. You’ll never watch a sweeter movie with viscera. You’ll never see a tale of young love so painted with buckets of blood...unless you see the U.S. version, Let Me In.
Odd Thomas (2013)
Thomas isn’t really odd. He just sees dead people — if he’s lucky. If he’s unlucky, he sees bodachs, evil spirits that portend chaos and death. Thomas, during his day job as a fry cook, spots a swarm of bodachs following a stranger. His otherworldly “psychic magnetism,” coupled with real-world detective work, leads to the discovery that disaster is coming to his small town. It’s up to the Odd One to stop it.
Thomas manages to maintain a loving relationship with his girlfriend, Stormy, and still fight the forces of darkness. But is ghostbusting incompatible with long-term romance? Don’t ask me. Ask Dean Koontz, who wrote the series on which this movie is based.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Despite the villagers who tried to kill him in the original movie, Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s monster is unalive and well in Bride of Frankenstein. However, he’s lonely and wants a “friend.” Enter Dr. Pretorius, Frankenstein’s mentor, who wants to continue Frankenstein’s work. Pretorius forces a traumatized, unwilling Frankenstein to help build a female Monster out of corpses.
What love story is here is very brief: The Bride of Frankenstein screams when the Monster approaches, and the Monster calls for a quick, yet permanent, end to their relationship. But his longing for a companion throughout the course of the movie can wrench even the most lifeless heart.
The Fly (1986)
Veronica, a reporter, interviews Seth, a scientist, for a story on teleportation. They soon become involved. Seth’s experiments, however, aren’t working as planned, and in a bout of insecurity over Ronnie’s ex-boyfriend (who happens to be her boss), he teleports himself. Unfortunately, a fly is caught in the machine, and their DNAs merge. The effects are devastating.
Seth is transformed from a sweet man who is genuinely surprised about romance to a man who exhausts a one-night stand — then turns his newly formed insect wrath toward Ronnie. In other words, Seth becomes a monster both physically and emotionally.
Also, what was Ronnie thinking when she had sex with her new boyfriend without protection?
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Sad-sack Skid Row florist Seymour has a crush on Audrey, who is abused by her boyfriend (who is the inspiration of one of the best songs in horror-musical history). You know what else Seymour has? A mean, green plant from outer space who has a taste for human flesh, a plant he names Audrey II.
Audrey II’s appetites soon become more than Seymour can handle. But he’ll have to handle it, or the plant will take over the world. Luckily, Audrey’s love gives him the confidence he needs (the three doo-wop singers who appear throughout the movie can also inspire anybody).
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Edward is pale, scarred, and has scissors instead of hands. This makes his love for Kim, the daughter of the woman who took him into her home, something of a challenge—but that’s far from the only one he faces. Created and raised by an elderly inventor (Vincent Price, in his last on-screen appearance), Edward's bladed appendages and his trusting nature make him a target for Kim’s boyfriend.
Kim eventually learns to care for Edward despite, or perhaps because of, his scissor hands. But when she asks him to hold her, Edward can only tell her, “I can’t.” A sweet and sad tale.
Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
Winslow is a songwriter who falls for the pretty singer Phoenix in this underrated classic by Brian De Palma. His rock opera, however, is stolen by the music producer Swan. Winslow, disfigured and driven mad when caught in a record press, agrees to the deal Swan offers: No one but his beloved Phoenix will sing his cantata ... if he signs a contract. In blood.
Of course, Swan doesn’t keep his promises. It’s up to the cloaked and masked Winslow to exact revenge.
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Constable Ichabod Crane goes to Sleepy Hollow to investigate three beheadings, where he meets Katrina, a young woman who helps him in his work. A man of reason, he disbelieves the rumors that a Headless Horseman is responsible for the murders.
But he soon believes in witchcraft, and not just because he witnesses the Headless Horseman with his own eyes. It’s because Katrina has bewitched him.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Slacker Shaun’s girlfriend, Liz, dumps him because she wants more than what Sean has to offer: going to the pub, playing videogames, chilling with his buddy, Ed. But when the zombie apocalypse comes, Shaun’s plans to hang out at the pub become a plan for survival. As Shaun becomes an unlikely hero, Liz sees that his efforts are what matters.
It's the world's first romzomcom. But the love between Shaun and Ed is also an important part of this movie, even though it’s more philia, less eros.
Warm Bodies (2013)
In the world's second romzomcom, zombies are walking the earth in search of brains. R, however, finds something unexpected: When scavenging for tasty gray matter, he spots Julie, and his desiccated heart comes to life. His affection for her is compounded by the fact that he has eaten the brains of her boyfriend. He hides the human from the other zombies, and she sees that he’s different and special.
However, other zombies, other humans, and the Boneys—malicious zombies who have shed any pretense of humanity—stand in the way of their romance. But true love conquers all. Even zombie-ism.
TL;DR: It’s a quirky, happier undead Romeo and Juliet.
Ig loves his long-term girlfriend Merrin, but she inexplicably dumps him just as he's ready to propose. She is soon found raped and murdered. But something funny happens on the way to finding the killer. Ig not only sprouts horns (buds at first, then curling antlers) but also acquires a strange ability: When people are around him, they confess the most appalling secrets and lose their self-restraint.
The killer had better watch out. Hell hath no fury like a man who increasingly resembles something from hell. Particularly one who has the power to compel people and snakes alike.
That's our list. What's your favorite horror movie to snuggle up with on a dark and stormy night? Let us know in the comments!