It’s Halloween time, when every network piles on the scary movies. We’re not ones for blood and gore, but give us a good love story, and we’ll happily take a fright or two. Not that these ten flicks are all that frightening, or blood-curdling, or horrifying — they’re mostly pretty tame compared to the usual October fare. (The scariest thing about this list is the prevalence of bad 80s hairdos and synth pop throughout.) No, these 10 films probably won’t turn your blood cold; instead, they’ll warm your heart.
By the way, as a matter of principal, we left off the Twilight trilogy completely — not only did we use romance as a criteria, we used quality, too. Warning: spoilers ahead!
1. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
A lot of people like to claim that Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 rendition of the 19th century novel is the truest to the book, despite the fact the entire love story between Dracula and Mina — the central element of the movie — was nowhere in Stoker’s manuscript! (And there certainly wasn’t any half-man half-beast date rape in the novel, either.) But that doesn’t make the flick any less romantic: A guy who forsakes God, becomes a vampire, and waits 400 plus years just to be with you again? That’s not scary, that’s sweet. (What’s scary are Keanu Reeves’ and Winona Ryder’s horrendous British accents.)
2. The Corpse Bride
Tim Burton’s 2005 stop-motion animated fantasy details the Victorian era love triangle between a shy woman (Emily Watson), her awkward fiance whom she’s just met (Johnny Depp), and the ghost who wants to marry him herself (Helena Bonham Carter). Having been killed on her wedding day, ghost Emily is eternally always a bridesmaid, never a bride — but when she finally gets the chance to tie the knot, she realizes that when you love someone you have to set them free. Awwwwwww! Honorable mention goes to Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas for the love story between Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, and animated rag doll Sally — their duet in the final scene is one of the sweetest love songs ever:
3. Let the Right One In
What’s a vampire trapped in a 12 year old’s body supposed to do when her long-time life-partner dies to protect her? Find a new life-partner! There’s something so compelling about the innocence of a first crush, especially when you know the relationship will ultimately end (in this case, in blood, pain and death). Love — and the crazy (i.e. totally fucked up) things people both young and old will do for it — is a major theme here that’s hauntingly realized. Go for the Swedish version over the American one.
The Dirty Dancing of ghost stories, this 1990 film is most famous for the threeway scene between Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopie Goldberg. Just kidding, it’s most famous for increasing cultural interest in pottery classes and making super short hair on girls cool for the first time since Rosemary’s Baby. Despite the cheesy demon shadows and heavenly silhouettes, there really are some nice moments exploring the depths of love and loss.
5. Near Dark
Before Kathryn Bigelow won a Best Director Oscar for The Hurt Locker, she made this 1987 Western/biker movie, which Time Magazine called “the all-time teenage vampire love story.” It’s a blood-soaked star-crossed lovers story, you see, except with a happy ending: Mae, a vampire, and her victim Caleb, must escape the violent clutches of her disapproving, bloodsucking family in order to walk off into the sunrise together.
6. Warm Bodies
This is another Romeo and Juliet remake (the main characters are “Julie” and “R”) complete with balcony scene and a Hollywood happy ending. It’s about the transformative power of romantic love — so transformative in fact that it can turn zombies human again. If only it could make your partner’s irksome bad habits disappear, too. (Btw, is it wrong to think main dead guy Nicholas Hoult is hotter with his zombie makeup on?)
7. Only Lovers Left Alive
Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, this 2013 vampire film captures the banality of long-term relationships (Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston’s marriage is centuries old), without giving up on the romance of true love. Or the potential for continued eroticism. This pasty yet sexy, depressed yet funny couple make marriage so cool. The kickass soundtrack doesn’t hurt, either.
8. Bride of Frankenstein
Poor Monster. So alone in world, so alienated. He just want love. Just want understanding. A friend, a mate, a bride. But when Dr. Frankenstein creates one for his monster, complete with awesome hair and wicked goth makeup, she’s just not ready to settle down. “She hate me. Like others.” Heartbroken, Boris Karloff and his neck bolts decide that if he can’t have her, no one else will — indeed, no one else should. “We belong dead.”
9. King Kong
Not one, but three versions of this story (1933, 1976, 2005) have accomplished the miraculous feat of making zoophilia seem kinda sweet. After all, King Kong is a star-crossed — there’s that word again — love story about a giant gorilla with the hots for a normal-sized human. Like Frankenstein’s monster, he’s a misunderstood softie who just wants a little companionship, someone to bathe in waterfalls and climb up phallic symbols with. Is that so much to ask? Since none of the three versions ever attempted a happy ending, with Kong and his gal picking out china patterns together, we guess it is too much to ask.
10. A Chinese Ghost Story
Isn’t it always the way: you find someone you really click with and it turns out they’re a ghost beholden to an evil intersex tree spirit and betrothed to a demon warlord? But hey, if it’s true love, you may just have a fighting chance.
This post has been updated.
What movies did we miss? Maybe you’ll find them here:
Top 10 Sexiest Scary Movies