Not everyone loves Valentine’s Day. If you’re single, recently had your heart broken, or couldn’t afford a nice dinner out, here are a list of five horror films that might make you feel a little better about feeling bitter.
5 – Return of the Living Dead III
My first entry on this list may seem like an odd choice. The second sequel to Dan O’Bannon’s horror-comedy gem, Return of the Living Dead, Part III has little in common with its predecessors other than the presence of zombies. I’m not even sure if Part III saw a theatrical release; I picked it up while working in a video store during my undergraduate years. The story followers a rebellious teenager, Curt, who decides to sneak his girlfriend, Julie, into the military base where his father works. Not surprisingly, this turns out to be a terrible idea and Julie is infected by a toxin that slowly turns her into the ‘living dead’ with a craving for human flesh. With all the expected explicit gore of a zombie film, as well as some unexpected body modification, the romance between Curt and Julie works surprisingly well. Its tragic ending is almost the zombie equivalent of Shakespeare. Almost.
4 – The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
I named my blog after this film so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it would show up in one of my articles. Before their was Se7en or Saw, there was the Vincent Price classic revenge tale, The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Price is Anton Phibes, a doctor, musician, and biblical scholar, believed to be dead after a car crash. Still alive but horribly disfigured, Phibes seeks revenge against the nine doctors he holds responsible for the death of his beloved wife on the operating table. Twenty-five year before David Fincher’s Se7en, Phibes orchestrates a series of creative death scenes based on the plagues that were unleashed on the Egyptians. The 1970s saw a lot of horror films that had a very strange vibe and Dr. Phibes certainly has its idiosyncratic features. It’s one of Price’s better films and if you’re feeling down on Valentine’s Day, it’s a quirky testament to how far someone will go for love.
3 – Audition (1999)
Takashi Miike’s Audition (1999) straddles the fence between being a suspense or mystery film and outright horror. Its story about a widower (Aoyama) who sets up a sham audition for a movie to screen potential new girlfriends should serve as a cautionary tale to anyone embellishing on their Tinder profile. The film takes its time as Aoyama falls in love with the young woman he auditioned, Asami, slowly dropping hints that something is not quite right with her. There are no traditional jump scares in Audition; Miike is more interested in disturbing the audience and getting under their skin. One scene in Asami’s apartment with a large duffel bag in the background will leave you with an uneasy feeling of dread. Its final act is an endurance test with one of the more infamous scenes of violence in horror film history.
2 – The Loved Ones (2009)
Australian director Sean Byrne turned heads with his feature film debut, The Loved Ones (2009). High school student Brent politely declines shy and awkward Lola Stone’s request to accompany her to the prom. Unfortunately for Brent, hell hath no fury, and he quickly finds himself abducted and tied to a chair by Lola’s father, who has decorated their kitchen for her own private prom night. Byrne’s film alternates between quiet moments of mounting tensions that are quickly punctuated with brutally uncomfortable acts of violence. All the acting performances are top notch with Robin McLeavy giving a truly unsettling performance as ‘Lola’. Sadly it took Byrne almost eight years to release his next film. Let’s cross our fingers and hope we don’t have to wait that long for his next film.
1 – The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Arguably one of the better, if not the best, Universal Monsters film released during their golden era, The Bride of Frankenstein continues the story Henry Frankenstein who is forced to continue a mate for The Monster by former mentor, Dr. Pretorius. Seeped in the same rich atmosphere and dark shadows of the best of the Universal films, Bride continues with the humanization of The Monster (in another excellent performance), a facet of any good monster movie that followed Frankenstein. When The Monster finally sees his ‘Bride’ and hopefully asks, ‘Friend’, and she screams in terror, you can almost feel the poor guy’s heart break.