Some people look forward to Valentine’s Day, while others dread it, but whether you’re cozying up with your significant other or flying solo there’s always room for some horror to enhance the mood. The color red is synonymous with both the holiday and our genre of choice, so the combination of watching scary movies on the official day of love seems fitting. Not to mention, a lot of horror films are rooted in the emotional aspects of relationships; hence, why good chemistry between fleshed-out characters raises the stakes. Hearts may go from skipping a beat, to being completely ripped out, and we’re here for all the blood-soaked festivities that ensue.
Below, find an eclectic list of horror films that make for the perfect Valentine’s Day viewing. What’s your go-to for the occasion? <3
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
Following the success of Black Christmas (1974), Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980), there was a craze for holiday-themed slasher flicks, so it’s no surprise that someone came to the table with a film centered around the most sentimental day of all. Director George Mihalka’s My Bloody Valentine doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it stands out as one of the best (and most underrated) holiday slashers still to this day. Set on Valentine’s Day in a small Nova Scotian mining town, the film centers around the tale of Harry Warden who supposedly returns with his pickaxe twenty years after a brutal massacre to hack up a new group of victims. My Bloody Valentine is well-acted, despite a cast of unknowns, well-made, thanks to Mihalka’s steady direction, and has a simple yet creepy story that holds up well to this day. The claustrophobic setting of the climax, which takes place in an underground mine, adds great tension to the film and you’ll be on edge right until the end.
Cat People (1982)
Director Paul Schrader’s ‘80s remake of the cult classic Cat People, released exactly forty years after the original, adds its distinctive flair to the story and amps up the sex appeal. The erotic thriller follows orphaned siblings, Irena and Paul Gallier (Natasha Kinski and Malcolm McDowell), who reunite as adults without Irena knowing that they come from a special race and can only mate with their kind without turning into animals. As expected, it doesn’t take long for things to go off the rails. Kinski is alluring in her role as she transforms into a black panther when sexually aroused. Visually, the film is a masterpiece, with cinematographer John Bailey and an impressive special effects team working their magic behind the lens. If you’ve been curious about this creature feature, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to check it out.
Scary, sexy and mysterious, Janet Greek’s Spellbinder is an underrated ‘80s witchcraft horror that has a similar vibe to Rosemary’s Baby. Jeff (Tim Daly), a successful lawyer tired of the dating scene, meets Miranda (Kelly Preston) in a parking lot one night and they soon develop a relationship when he invites her into his home. Little does he know she was formerly part of a satanic cult who want her back as a sacrifice for the winter solstice. The narrative unfolds at a gentle pace for the first portion of the film but this makes the story feel more intense when the supernatural elements come into play. Sensual scenes are mixed with refreshing horror elements and the final twist is truly unexpected.
Bride of Chucky (1998)
Following the self-satirical meta trend of the late ‘90s, creator Don Mancini and director Ronny Yu deliver a new take on the world of Chucky with 1998’s Bride of Chucky and some say it’s the best film of the franchise (I tend to agree!). By treating fans to such a progressive and humorous entry, Mancini and Yu pump some long-overdue fresh blood into a series that was beginning to feel stale. The film introduces Jennifer Tilly as the murderous Tiffany Valentine and she’s mesmerizing to watch in both human and doll form. The entire cast is wickedly fun and it’s fascinating to see the twisted romance between Chucky and Tiffany unfold.
Masterfully directed by Jamie Blanks (also behind the popular ‘90s slasher Urban Legend), Valentine follows a group of girlfriends who are haunted by the actions of their pasts when they begin receiving threatening Valentine’s Day cards years later. Valentine pulls in effective elements from the heyday of slasher films like the cupid-masked killer who stalks mercilessly, and the unexpected final reveal. It’s a colorful and visually impressive holiday-themed horror with inventive kills and a cast made up of ‘90s royalty like Denise Richards, David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton and Katherine Heigl.
My Bloody Valentine (2009)
This new take on the classic ‘80s slasher isn’t quite as charming or atmospheric as the original but it’s a fast-paced ride that delivers great entertainment value. My Bloody Valentine (2009) has a strong opening and closing with non-stop gore in between. What’s nice about this remake is its self-awareness; it embraces its cheesiness rather than trying to be something it’s not. The cast is quite strong with Jensen Ackles a stand-out in the mysterious lead role of Tom Hanniger, and Jaime King holding her own as the final girl Sarah Palmer. It’s gruesome, terrifying fun and the plot twist is handled even better than in the original.
Warm Bodies (2013)
Warm Bodies is an entrancing mix of comedy, romance and horror in the often played-out zombie subgenre. Here, we get to see life from the zombie’s point of view and witness him evolve as he develops feelings for a living girl. There are layers of emotional depth within the film and Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer share genuine chemistry that keeps audiences engaged. Also, bonus points for a flawless soundtrack that includes Bruce Springsteen, Guns N’ Roses, M83 and more!
The Love Witch (2016)
The Love Witch is a retro sexploitation homage that feels like it came from the late ‘60s era. Kudos to Anna Biller who wore multiple hats (writer, director, producer, editor and costume designer) to bring her stylized vision to life. Campy and provocative, The Love Witch intoxicates with its witty screenplay, remarkable performances and meticulous attention to detail. Samantha Robinson is captivating as Elaine, a modern-day witch who casts spells on men so they fall in love with her. Her expertly applied blue eye shadow and stylish garments make for quite the iconic look as well! It’s a vivid, technicolor thriller that showcases an interesting dynamic between the sexes.
A satisfying requel loaded with self-awareness, Scream (2022) is no doubt the most emotional entry of the franchise. An ode to the late Wes Craven, the film is especially relationship-driven and continuously ups the stakes by putting the character’s closest loved ones in danger. Sam and Richie (Melissa Barrera and Jack Quaid) are the new leads, we get our first official killer couple and of course the tear-jerking (and sadly short-lived) reunion of Gale and Dewey. Scream 5 is filled with brutal kills and clever meta-commentary on fandom and the state of the horror genre, but one of its major highlights is Gale exacting revenge for the brutal slaying of her one true love (“You killed my best friend!” Powerful stuff!) Of course, the opening and closing songs (True Love by Durand Jones & The Indications and Fall Out Of Love by Salem and Carlie Hanson) drive home important themes from the film. It’s an emotive reboot that may get you choked up with nostalgia.
Directed by Carter Smith and starring Cooper Koch, Jose Colon and Mark Patton, Swallowed is a gripping blend of body horror and romance. Filled with enthralling queer subtext, the film explores the relationship between two friends (Koch and Colon) as they partake in a dangerous drug run for extra cash, but find themselves stranded in a remote cabin across the border. The two soon discover the drugs they’re dealing with are more deadly than they appear as a savage fight for survival begins. Swallowed has an engaging setup and stays on track right through to its startling conclusion, largely due to the nuanced performance by Koch as Benjamin. It’s creepy, atmospheric and you can expect some full frontal male nudity for a change.
Have a killer Valentine’s Day! <3
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