Valentine's Day is supposed to be the stereotypical candlelit dinner at a restaurant where you'll regret the bill a month later, followed by a romantic rendezvous featuring an overpriced bouquet of roses, a bottle of Cristal and an economy-size box of tissues for when one of you inevitably starts bawling at that tearjerker on Netflix that won six Oscars but brings on the mascara smudges.
At least that's how all those saccharine commercials say you should do it, right?
Maybe something a little less mainstream is more to your liking. Like star-crossed teenage paramours from Earth and Mars who can never reconcile their planetary differences. Or a swamp thing's lovesickness that ends in abduction. Or a desperate suitor who cannot let his love interest know about his zombie mother, even if that means faking a funeral for the undead.
Pour the cheap champagne and get in the mood with these 13 sci-fi and horror B-movies in which a twisted sort of romance lurks — just not where you'd expect.
Robot Monster (1953)
You shouldn't expect anyone to want to date you after you've blown away 99.999% of Earth's population with a Calcinator Death-Ray, but macho metallic Ro-Man is ambitious enough to think one of the surviving humans would. There actually is a warped love theme here if you can get over these monsters actually being stuntmen in gorilla suits with deep-sea diving helmets, rampaging against a really obvious backdrop of recycled stock footage. This murder machine from the moon is so in love with Alice that he dares defy his overlord by refusing to annihilate her (even though she is the daughter of a scientist who could possibly figure out how to turn an alien robot into junk metal). Love really does conquer all … planets.
Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)
Unrequited love can be wrenching, but unrequited interspecies love can be a shipwreck if you're an amphibious relic of the Devonian age swimming around in search of a soul mate. This prehistoric paramour won't pursue just anyone, either, because he's hellbent on snatching up a scientist's girlfriend with his webbed claws. She should have never gone for that afternoon swim, no matter how much she felt beckoned by the cool deep waters of the lagoon her boyfriend's floating expedition was exploring for fossils. Is it even necessary to say that his victim doesn't respond with roses and chocolates after he abducts her? Possibly more disturbing is that the designer behind Gill-Man's fish face was — wait for it — a Disney animator.
Devil Girl From Mars (1954)
Men are obviously not from Mars in this case. It might be many men's dream to encounter a vixen in a black leather bodysuit who is more than willing to spend the night with them ... until they find out she's really a Martian commander with a hidden agenda to abduct them, propagating the population on her home planet. This is what happens when a battle of the sexes on your home planet renders all the males impotent, making it necessary to send feelers out to another planet for a DNA refill. Anyone who goes to bed with her obviously didn't catch sight of her ray gun—or that gargantuan robot sidekick that looks like a walking refrigerator.
Bride of the Monster (1955)
Starring Bela Lugosi as the hypnotic Dr. Vornoff, it is not the mad scientist but his mute Quasimodo-esque assistant who becomes infatuated with a human he knows he can't have. His master appears to be doing him a favor when he sends the captive newspaper reporter into a zombie-like state and telepathically summons her to come to the monster in a ghostly wedding gown. The bride's spectral presence and vacant eyes may have engaged couples everywhere rethinking their impending march down the aisle. When the match made in hell that turns into a questionable scientific experiment, it becomes apparent that what subhuman creatures are willing to do out of grief and desperation can be strangely touching.
Teenagers From Outer Space (1959)
You might recognize this ray gun-blasting, human-vaporizing, Gargon-infested orgy from Mystery Science Theater 3000. Star-crossed teenage lovers have been finding themselves doomed over and over since Shakespeare. Flash forward to the future and you'll find a flying saucer that crashes into an unexpected affair. When a Martian boy lands on our turf, his mission is to breed monstrous lobster-like organisms until he meets a human girl who makes him want to adopt Earth as his home planet, though it is pretty alien to have your first kiss barged in on by a giant crustacean. This extraterrestrial Romeo is a true romantic at heart. There is no sacrifice quite as explosive (literally, in this case) as deciding to forsake your home planet for love.
The Vampire Lovers (1970)
This unapologetic fang-fest from the Hammer house of horror is a cautionary tale about never trusting anyone transparent (no matter how attractive they are or how delusional you are) because they might make a meal of you. Carmilla's reign of sanguine seduction starts with unwitting victims whose unconsciousness she injects with lethal nightmares. She also brazenly proves she'll kill more than just the objects of her affection just to carry off her newest captive. There's just nothing more swoon-worthy than a scene on the brink of a kiss until she bares her teeth and goes for the jugular. Make it a horror night and marathon the other two movies this one spawned: Lust for a Vampire and Twins of Evil.
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)
Breakfast in bed is one thing, but it isn't so luxurious when you're on the menu. This is yet another reason not to consider abandoned buildings for your next romantic tryst, because you may end up being digested by the bed you were romping on — along with an entire bottle of Pepto-Bismol to wash you down. Especially disturbing is how this thing traps its besotted victims in seething, gurgling foam, sinking them into greasy digestive fluids that would put Freddie Krueger's nightmare suffocation scenes to shame. Even weirder is the voyeuristic painting (really an artist trapped in a painting) that has a free viewing of everything X-rated that happens below. You will never shop for a mattress the same way again.
Yor: The Hunter From the Future (1983)
From the country that brought you The Man Who Saves the World (only the most outrageous low-budget Star Wars ripoff ever) comes a Turkish delight full of sticky, sweaty scenes and gratuitous grunting. Sound indecent enough yet? You could probably watch this on a first date because it's hardly prehistoric erotica when most of the perspiration glistening on this boneheaded Conan clone and his cohorts is worked up by trying to rescue the love of his life (who he's only known for about a day) from Earth-crushing robots despite his roving eye. He seems to have a thing for women wearing weird amulets. Get ready for the evolution of jealousy when Yor's so-called girlfriend starts a catfight with a seductive sand mummy.
I Married a Vampire (1987)
When you have a history of being the weird kid who was always at the mercy of endless torment, maybe the type of person you should want to swoop in and save you is a vampire who can literally drink the blood of thine enemies. While you should usually expect nothing less than gore gooier than the inside of a melted truffle from the infamous Troma Studios, this movie won't kill the mood. No mortal bully can escape the charming creature of the night who marries misfit Viola and then goes on a bloodsucking rampage of revenge. That will teach the boss who humiliated you in public and beat the living daylights out of you for over-starching his shirt.
Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
Don't ever take your date to the circus — especially an abandoned circus — unless you want to end up encapsulated in cotton candy. Never mind finding a body suffocated by spun sugar, then being chased out of your former makeout haven by terrifyingly clown-like, raygun-wielding aliens shooting you with popcorn and sending a balloon dog chomping at your heels. The rest of your romantic night out is going to consist of calling the police station on repeat just to get the answering machine (because even the cops are being held hostage) and doing every insane thing possible to avoid being trapped in a sickeningly sweet cocoon, liquefied and slurped up with a crazy straw. Just don't stay for the killer puppet show.
Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-a-Rama (1988)
More pheromones than love pervade the air in this all-out sleaze-o-rama when a sexually deprived band of frat boys are caught watching a kinky sorority initiation ritual involving paddles and whipped cream. The peeping toms end up getting a stranger sort of seduction than they ever bargained for. Breaking into an irredeemably sketchy bowling alley alone with the nervous pledges is their hormonal dream come true — until it turns into the lap dance from hell. When disembodied heads become gutter balls, you might just want to take your date to the late-night double feature instead. This film was so low-budget that a closed bowling alley in the dead of night was the only affordable set. And the bowling alley? It's now a (brace yourself) public swimming pool.
Night of the Demons (1988)
It's one thing to realize you've been used when you were only invited to a Halloween party because your hormone-charged teen boyfriend wanted to get you into bed without risking your parents breaking in — and quite another thing to realize said party is in an abandoned funeral home and someone just released a demon via séance. This isn't exactly the time to play spin-the bottle since the demon can be passed on by a kiss on the lips (if your crush doesn't rip your tongue out with fatal fangs first). At least you can have the satisfaction of knowing that when your boyfriend decided to cheat on you by getting hot and heavy with a possessed party guest, she gouged his eyes out.
Long before Peter Jackson wielded his magical directing staff in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies, he helmed what has been called one of the goriest splatter-manias in Middle-earth and beyond. When you try to hide something from your significant other, sooner or later it will emerge ... from the grave, if it happens to be the ravenous zombie that used to be your mother before she was bitten by an infected hybrid creature. Stuart has no choice but to bury her if he wants to impress his love interest ... or else he will literally die, and not just of embarrassment. Of all the facades lovers have ever put up for each other, a faux funeral would have to rank up there among the most tasteless.