Sick of love? Consider this the Anti-Valentine’s Day round-up of horror movies guaranteed to put you off romance for a while. The lovesick characters featured here push well past healthy boundaries into squeamish and taboo-breaking territory.
The polar opposite of relationship goals, these eight movies offer some of the most twisted and diseased explorations of “love” you’ll ever find within the horror genre.
Happy Valentine’s Day…
Grant and Starla’s relatively happy marriage ended when an extraterrestrial parasite found its way into Grant’s body, taking over. As Grant helped spread the parasite across town, creating an army of mutated residents, he clung to his love of Starla. So much so that he, now an amorphous creature, builds a nest and attempts to seduce his wife. While there’s a charmingly pure sentiment buried underneath the grotesque thing that Grant has become, it’s played for maximum gross-out laughs. Nothing like a slimy, slug-like entity to dissolve a marriage.
When Edith married Thomas, she knew that meant relocating to a dilapidated mansion far from home. She didn’t realize that the place is filled with the ghosts of Thomas and his sister’s past victims or that the siblings’ relationship isn’t normal or healthy. Edith finds herself piecing together the family’s history as she becomes the next target, leading to some icky revelations about her new husband. While Crimson Peak is far from the first horror, or horror adjacent, movie to feature incest, it’s more covertly buried within a gorgeous Gothic romance that builds to an unhinged finale.
Love triangles are tired, but love triangles with gross-out body horror is a different story. Before her wedding, Casey enjoys a bachelorette trip with her best friends in Costa Rica. Worried about her pending nuptials, she doesn’t pay any attention to a strange bug bite. Once home, however, that bug bite causes bizarre body changes. As she transforms into an insect-like creature with murderous impulses, it coincides with reveals about her friendships and fiancé that lead to a gruesome implosion of Casey’s life as she once knew it. It’s a love triangle nestled in a nest of bug eggs and body horror.
Dead Alive, aka Braindead, may be centered around Lionel and Paquita’s love story, but a secondary love story threatens to steal the spotlight. After Father “I kick ass for the Lord” McGruder succumbs to a zombie bite and gets locked away in Lionel’s basement with other zombies, he finds undead love with Nurse McTavish. Attraction leads to gnawed faces in a moment of heightened passion, which leads to zombie copulation. Their love bore fruit in the form of one rambunctious zombie baby. Undead mom and dad prove to be better lovers than parents. Leave it to Peter Jackson to go full throttle on the splatstick romance, covering every possible angle.
The Skin I Live In
Dr. Robert Lesgard is a renowned surgeon working on break-through synthetic skin. He’s also obsessed with his test subject, a woman named Vera, that he keeps locked in a room. Vera looks a lot like his deceased wife, Gal, which only fuels his fixation. The more his obsession grows, the more he’s haunted by memories of his daughter, who committed suicide after a long tenure at a mental facility post-sexual assault by a man named Vincente. Robert’s fixation appears to be of the unhealthy romantic sort until the connection between Vera and Vincente becomes disturbingly clear. Romance proves to be a guise for an even darker tale of skin-crawling revenge.
Beyond the Darkness
Anna dies from a mysterious illness that, unbeknownst to her fiancé Frank, is a voodoo curse placed on her by Frank’s jealous housekeeper Iris. So beside himself with grief, Frank decides to taxidermize her to keep her with him forever. It’s gory and gross, as expected by director Joe D’Amato (of Video Nasty Anthropophagus fame), and only gets weirder as the story progresses. There’s unsettling erotic breastfeeding, hacked up victims are dissolved in acid baths, and Frank even gets a little cannibalistic when victims don’t appreciate Anna’s preserved body. Sometimes losing the one you love can drive you insane, but Frank takes it to a whole new, twisted level.
From the special effects artist, Yoshihiro Nishimura, who handled the insane gore effects from Tokyo Gore Police and The Machine Girl, this wacky Japanese sci-fi splatter film centers around the love story between Yoji and Sachiko. Yoji is a shy factory worker with an unrequited crush on co-worker Sachiko. When he discovers Sachiko being sexually assaulted by another co-worker, his attempt to save her ends in dismal failure, but it’s the effort that counts, and she ends up going home with him. But Yoji’s been hiding a strange alien insect in his apartment, and the thing merges with Sachiko, turning her into a bio-mechanical monster. When Yoji is also infected, the two would-be lovers are forced to fight to the death. Yoji and Sachiko’s star-crossed love story delivers over the top ridiculous gore, violence, and sensory overload.
As controversial as it is disconcerting, Deadgirl removes any semblance of a protagonist here as its two leads descend into increasing depravity. High school seniors Rickie and J.T. cut class one day and decide to explore an abandoned facility, where they find a naked woman chained to a table in the basement. J.T. wastes no time taking advantage and deduces she’s unable to die after attempting to murder her three times. From there, he proceeds to defile and assault her in every way, even bringing in a new pal to join in; and Rickie struggles with the morality of the acts while pining away for his long-time crush, Joann. As Rickie’s attempts to woo Joann grow less noble and more dangerous, well, don’t expect a happy ending for anyone. Deadgirl is an unpleasant and confrontational watch, and that’s by design.