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Unspeakable horrors are done in the name of love in these genre classics

Elsa Lanchester doesn't like Frankenstein's Monster (Boris Karloff) in "The Bride of Frankenstein" (1935).
Elsa Lanchester doesn't like Frankenstein's Monster (Boris Karloff) in "The Bride of Frankenstein" (1935).
Universal Studios

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and if you’d like to make your significant other’s heart race a little faster, why not try introducing a little horror into this Friday, February 14? A scary movie will do the trick, and there are some frighteners that are positively romantic in their own dark, twisted way. Let me count the ways.

The Swedish horror film "Let the Right One In"

“The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935)

One of the greatest horror romances of all time is director James Whale’s sequel to “Frankenstein”. The lonely monster (Boris Karloff) wants a mate, so the egomaniacal Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) ‘plays God’ one more time. Elsa Lanchester essayed the bride who’s none too happy with her newly betrothed. This classic Universal feature remains one of cinema’s best dissertations on loneliness and is sure to draw your loved one closer to you during the final credits.

“The Abominable Dr. Phibes” (1971)

One of Vincent Price’s late career hits was his turn as a vengeful doctor out to knock off those responsible for letting his beloved bride die on the operating table. He kills them, one by one, in ways that ape the 10 plagues of Egypt in the Old Testament. Bats, rats, frogs, locusts and more are his deadly weapons in this British camp classic that shows the lengths one fiend will go to demonstrate his undying love. In the sequel “Dr. Phibes Rises Again”, he actually revives her corpse (, which gratefully made their romantic dinner conversations less one-sided.

“The Phantom of the Paradise” (1974)

There have been many cinematic versions of “The Phantom of the Opera” but if you’re looking for one that truly rocks, this black comedy by Brian De Palma is just the ticket. The phantom here is a disfigured music prodigy (William Finley) who falls for an ambitious singer (Jessica Harper) while a villainous rock impresario steals his music. He starts extracting his revenge, for the love of art and her. The score is by Paul Williams, who pulls double duty as the film’s villain. This dizzying phantasm satirizes everything from Lon Chaney to Dr. Caligari to The Who’s “Tommy”. It’s trippy, hilarious, and at times, quite frightening.

“The Fly” (1986)

Not only is David Cronenberg’s film one of the best horror films of the 80’s, it contains a Jeff Goldblum performance that is one of the genre’s all-time greatest. Here, he’s a scientist who’s developed a transporter that will make him famous, but all he wants is the love of a good woman (Geena Davis). When he throws romantic caution to the wind to prove himself to her, he transports himself, along with an errant fly, and their DNA tragically melds. It turns him into a hideous man-beast. He earns her love, but alas, their happiness will soon be swatted away.

“Let the Right One In” (2008)

This Swedish film may be the best horror movie released in the last decade or so (, and it certainly proved that children could be as strong of romantic protagonists as any adult characters. Oskar, a bullied 12-year-old boy (Kare Hedebrant), befriends his new neighbor Eli (Lina Leandersson), a young girl who happens to be a vampire. There relationship builds into one of great love, commitment, and yes, horrific murder. It’s one of the most disturbing horror films ever, yet also, one of the most beautiful. This is a must-see any day, especially on Valentine’s.

Those are five frighteners worth finding on Netflix, Redbox, Amazon Instant Video (, or wherever you rent, buy or stream. So this year, bag the chocolates and go for something that will really get your lover’s blood pumping. Try a little horror, and see if you aren’t soon holding onto each other for dear life!

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