Sometimes, the best love stories also include bodily decay, demonic possession, mass murder, ghosts and haunted fog. Obviously.
Every day this month we're bringing you a different Top 13 list from the world of horror. You can find them all here.
Seth Brundle and Veronica Quaife from The Fly (1986)
David Cronenberg’s The Fly is one of the great romantic tragedies of all time, period. The film traces its central couple from their meet cute at a cocktail party, to their intellectual courtship and first great sex, to their sad relationship decline after Seth fuses his DNA with that of a fly. Try not to be moved when Veronica first sees Seth in his gooey, bloody, mid-transformation state and runs over to hug him anyway. When you really love somebody, such changes of appearance don’t matter. Fun Fact: Seth and Veronica's portrayers, Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis, dated in real life. Until she told him to buzz off.
Everyone from The Hunger (1983)
When one discusses a movie about a vampire love triangle between Catharine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon, how on Earth does one choose which couple is best? On the one hand, Deneuve and Bowie are dazzlingly glamorous as they go looking for new victims at a Bauhaus concert while wearing couture outfits. On the other hand, Deneuve and Sarandon’s sex scene is so hot that it has the power to turn on every person on earth, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. You decide!
Countess Bathory and Valerie from Daughters of Darkness (1971)
Another vampire love triangle movie, to which The Hunger owes a great debt. Both of the Countess Bathory’s love affairs, which take place in a creepy, deserted hotel, are winners. However, one just gets the feeling watching this movie that Valerie and Countess Bathory are the loves of each other’s lives (after all, they go through the trouble of murdering both the Countess’ ex-lover/personal assistant and Valerie’s sadistic, bisexual husband so that they can be together).
Ginny and Paul from Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
You know that Ginny and Paul have something special when she shows up late to camp, right as Paul emphasizes the importance of accountability, and they share some Philadelphia Story-esque banter. Their strong wills come in handy in their relationship when they become one of the few “final couples” in all of the Friday the 13th series. It’s elevating to watch them unite as a team to defeat Jason together. Also, they would have been perfect as Cathy and Christopher Dollenganger in an early ’80s film adaptation of V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic.
Elizabeth Soley and Nick Castle from The Fog (1980)
Don’t listen to your mother. Sometimes having a one night stand can lead to true love. Case in point, The Fog. Weathered but hunky Nick Castle (Tom Atkins, THE romantic leading man of ‘80s horror films) picks up young but smart Elizabeth (Jamie Lee Curtis) while she hitchhikes on a dark and dangerously foggy night. They share the best “pick up” dialogue ever (“Are you weird?,” “Yes, I am. Yes I am weird,” “You are weird. Thank God you’re weird.”), and immediately jump into bed. Battling ghost pirates and forcing the town of Antonio Bay to deal with its repressed past only brings them closer.
Jim and Brandon in Witchboard (1986)
The movie would like us to believe that Jim (Todd Allen) and Linda (the perfect Tawny Kitaen) make up its central couple. However, it is wildly apparent that Jim and his former lifelong best friend/”rival for Linda’s affections” (Stephen Nichols) are meant to be together. The sexual tension sizzles as they hurl insults at each other based on their past relationship, the details of which are known only to them. Then Linda gets possessed by a ghost that comes through Brandon’s Ouija board. When the men go off on a suspiciously Brokeback Mountain-esque road trip in order to save her, they rekindle the intimacy that they’d lost. Unfortunately, as in most Hollywood movies that deal with love between men, Brandon dies in Jim’s arms.
Martha Beck and Ray Hernandez from The Honeymoon Killers (1969)
Some horror movie couples are great because they horrify. Based on the true story of The Lonely Hearts Killers, The Honeymoon Killers tells the story of a lonely nurse and a con artist who fall in love. Posing as brother and sister, they work together to seduce lonely, rich old women through personal ads, swindle them out of their assets, and then murder them in cold blood.
Chucky and Tiffany from Bride of Chucky (1998)
There is something oddly touching about watching Chucky realize that he’s finally met his match during this film’s central killing spree. Beneath Tiffany’s hyper-feminine exterior and wispy voice (Jennifer Tilly’s), she takes no crap and has wit as sharp as her knife. Chucky and Tiffany’s relationship developed new nuance when they had to grapple with the birth of their pacifist, genderqueer son in Seed of Chucky (2004), which writer-director Don Mancini described as his Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).
Diane and Steve Freeling in Poltergiest II (1986)
Yes, yes, Poltergeist (1982) is a better movie than Poltergeist II, and the Freelings certainly demonstrated the strength of their love in the earlier film. However, their marriage is really tested in Poltergeist II. It’s bad enough that their house disappeared, they’re living with Diane’s mom, and Steve can’t find a job. The snot really hits the fan when the utterly terrifying Reverend Kane tries to get Carol Ann back by chipping away at the foundation of the Freeling marriage. He shows up at the front door and preys on Steve’s insecurities as a husband and parent. He finally possesses Steve (and terrorizes Diane) by entering his body in the form of a tequila worm, making him act abusive, and then forcing him to vomit out a monster! Excessive drinking can harm a marriage more than you know. Through all of that, Diane and Steve stick together and survive, even though they rudely send Carol Ann away to live in a skyscraper with her aunt and uncle in a Poltergeist III.
Brian and a Tree in Tales That Witness Madness (1973)
In “Mel,” the third segment of the anthology film Tales that Witness Madness, the husband of Bella (Joan Collins) falls in love with an old, dead tree. He puts it in the living room and strokes it caressingly, and even brings it to bed with him. Fiery Bella will have none of it, and a final showdown between her and the angry tree results. Joan Collins is always fighting with somebody!
Dave and Evelyn from Play Misty For Me (1972)
You can’t have a list of great horror couples without a murderously obsessive stalker movie. Fatal Attraction is the standard go-to, but Play Misty for Me came first, and it’s a lot scarier. Arrested Development’s Jessica Walter kills it in every way possible as Evelyn, a sexy but severely mentally ill woman who falls dangerously in love with smooth D.J. Dave (Clint Eastwood) after they sleep together. When Dave tries to blow off Evelyn for sweet, blonde Donna Mills (who was never nicer and more agreeable than she was here, thank God), things go frighteningly awry. As in Fatal Attraction, Dave is so clueless that it’s almost tempting to side with Evelyn, who has all the best lines (nobody will ever ask “How’d you like to go screw yourself?!” as persuasively as Walter). But you will be biting your nails wondering where she’s going to pop out of next, and what kind of a weapon she’ll be carrying.
Oskar and Eli from Let The Right One In (2008)
Let the Right One In captures the intensity of what it feels like for an outsider who experiences the absence of loneliness for the first time when he meets another (somewhat) like himself. After small, bullied Oskar meets the androgynous, vampiric Eli they fall into a quiet sort of love. As is often the case in human/vampire relationships, this leads to murder. However, the murders are less the centerpiece of the movie than an excuse to meditate about the gray area that separates good and evil, especially when you’re a pre-teen.
Ed and Lorraine Warren from The Conjuring (2013)
The Conjuring is extremely scary and fun. However, it seems at least a little bit possible that this film made so much money (it is currently the third highest grossing supernatural horror film of all time) because people around the world want Ed and Lorraine Warren (a real couple, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) to come and cure them of whatever demons inhabit their lives. In The Conjuring, Ed and Lorraine are the perfect couple: gorgeous, strong, kind, united by fantastic shared interests (ghosts, demons, and haunted antiques!), willing to look out for each other, and able to kick major ass when working together as a pair. When they hold on to Lili Taylor and demand that the demon witch get the hell out of her, it’s a likely bet that more than a few people in the audience, for a moment, feel just a little bit less vulnerable about the multitudinous horrors of life. Name the romantic comedy that has such powers!