JUMPSCARECUT: Bad Romance

October is synonymous with a few things: autumn leaves, pumpkin-spiced everything, Halloween, the return of The Walking Dead on TV, and more horror movies than you can wield a knife at. Not everyone has a stomach for gore or the mettle for scares though. If you’re wondering where all the romance goes when the monsters come out to play, fear not. It may not be the 14th February, but here are 14 love stories perfect for the spooky season.

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Crimson Peak (2015)

Guillermo del Toro’s 1880s-set ghost story charts the relationship between American aspiring-author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) and English baron/inventor Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). After she suffers a devastating family tragedy, she marries Thomas and moves into the dilapidated Sharpe home, a grand gothic mansion built on a hill that ‘bleeds’ red when it snows. Edith must not only compete with Thomas’ conniving sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) for his attention, but she must contend with the spirits that haunt the house.

 

La Belle et la Bête (1946)

Jean Cocteau and René Clément’s surreal tale of tragic love between a beautiful girl, Belle (Josette Day), and a gentle beast (Jean Marais), was the first adaptation of the 1757 story, Beauty and the Beast. Now considered a French classic, La Belle et la Bête presents the Beast as so repellent, Belle faints at the sight of him – not quite the sumptuously animated creature Disney drew! The story unfolds like a Grimm’s fairy tale, a brooding dark fantasy, with not a singing teapot or candelabra in sight.

 

Warm Bodies (2013)

William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has been adapted to film countless times over the years. From direct adaptations, such as Franco Zeffirelli’s 1969 version and Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 modernised version, to more imaginative translations, such as West Side Story and The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride. Warm Bodies falls into the latter – a loose reworking of the classic star-crossed lovers narrative. The ‘Romeo’ of Warm Bodies is Nicholas Hoult’s zombie, known only as R, and the ‘Juliet’ is Teresa Palmer’s Julie, daughter of the U.S. Army Colonel hell-bent on eradicating the living dead once and for all. Told from the zombie’s perspective, and notably depicting the undead as retaining some human characteristics in death (un-death?), Warm Bodies will thaw even the iciest of hearts.

 

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

The ending of the Universal Pictures 1931 classic, Frankenstein, is heart-breaking, as Frankenstein’s Monster (Boris Karloff) is apparently burned to death in the windmill he hides in, to escape the vicious mob chasing him. The Monster is woefully misunderstood, a lonely beast, desperate for a mate. In Bride of Frankenstein, Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Pretorious heed no moral lesson from past mistakes as they create the Bride (Elsa Lanchester), a true icon in the genre’s oeuvre. Raise a glass to “the new world of gods and monsters!”

 

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

Known as “the first Iranian vampire western”, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night focuses on a lonesome vampire (Sheila Vand), who spends her eternal life listening to music on vinyl, skateboarding around Bad City, and preying on men who disrespect women. One night, she meets a drugged-up, lost, Arash (Arash Marandi), and is charmed by his vulnerability and kindness. Their tentative attraction is fascinating to watch. With a soundtrack as killer as the girl herself, and shot in exquisite black and white, Ana Lily Amirpour has created a modern gem.

 

Thirst (2009)

South Korean producer/director Park Chan-wook knows a thing or two about forbidden lust – just watch Stoker or The Handmaiden. When Catholic priest Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho) volunteers to participate in an experiment to find a vaccine for the deadly Emmanuel Virus, the unexpected side effects include a thirst for human blood, an extreme aversion to sunlight, and insatiable lust for his friend’s wife, Tea-ju (Kim Ok-bin). The two embark on an illicit and deadly affair, as the lines between right and wrong, monster and human, are blurred.

 

A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

Chinese folklore (as imagined by A Chinese Ghost Story) dictates that the spirit of any person buried at the foot of a tree outside the haunted Lan Ro temple will be eternally bound to the servitude of the sinister Tree Devil, whose tongue wraps around its victims to suck out their life essence. Lip Siu-sin (Joey Wong) is one of those unfortunate souls. When Ling Choi-san (Leslie Cheung) meets her ghost, it’s love at first sight, and he vows to free her from her misery. Martial arts meets phantasm meets melancholy in this supernatural tale of love and loss.

 

Spring (2014)

Romantic body horror is not a combination of words one would expect, yet perfectly describe Spring. Evan (Lou Taylor-Pucci) suffers a devastating loss that prompts him to travel to Italy, where he meets the enigmatic Louise (Nadia Hilker), a student of genetics. A creature-feature unlike any other, Louise gradually reveals her ghastly secrets to Evan, as her transformative nature is exposed.

 

The Mummy (1932)

What’s more romantic than a love that spans centuries? When British archaeologists accidentally bring Egyptian priest Imhotep (Boris Karloff) back from the dead, the last thing they expect is to sacrifice their lives in order to bring the high priest’s lover, Anck Su Namun (Zita Johann) back from the dead too. A timeless fable warning us of the perils of reading ancient runes aloud, The Mummy is oft replicated (see The Mummy of 1999, starring swashbuckling Brendan Fraser, or The Mummy of 2017, starring fearless Tom Cruise), but never bettered.

 

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Let the Right One In (2008)

Based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist (who also wrote the screenplay), Let the Right One In centres on the sweet relationship that blossoms between 12-year-old outcast Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) and his new mysterious neighbour Eli (Lina Leandersson). The two exchange toys and Morse code messages through their neighbouring wall, and learn over time that though they are different species (she is a vampire, he is a human), their bloodlust is not so different; he wants to kill, to seek revenge on his tormenters, whereas she needs to kill to survive. Tomas Alfredson directs the children’s disturbing bond with a tenderness and empathy that is rare.

(I urge you to seek out the original Swedish version, though the American remake, Let Me In, is intriguing in its own way.)

 

The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg’s seminal transfiguration sci-fi horror about scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) and his botched attempt at teleportation doesn’t exactly scream “romantic”. The make-up effects that turn Brundle into half-man-half-fly are gruesome. However, the love between Brundle and girlfriend Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) is so pure, that even as Brundlefly evolves fully into an tyrannical insectoid, she cries for him.

 

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

There’s been a lot of vampires on this list, which perhaps speaks to how romanticised the immortal bloodsuckers are. The love in Francis Ford Coppola’s bat-shit crazy adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is not for the titular evil, but between lawyer Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves, with one of the worst English accents put to celluloid) and his fiancée, Mina (Winona Ryder). When Count Dracula (Gary Oldman) takes a fancy to Mina for her astonishing resemblances to his sweetheart from the 15th Century, Elisabeta (also Ryder), he rabidly pursues her.

 

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Arguably the birth of the “zom-com” genre, Shaun of the Dead is the first in Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, and stars Simon Pegg as the titular Shaun, a 30-something down-on-his-luck dude who realises the importance of showing his love only when the zombie apocalypse is upon him. Arming himself with a bat, he traverses across London with best friend Ed (Nick Frost) to save his mum, Barbara (Penelope Wilton) and win back his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield).

 

The Shape of Water (2017)

Bookending this list with another Guillermo del Toro romance seemed only natural given his proclivity for playing in the backyard of horror iconography. The Amphibian Man (played by the incomparable Doug Jones) may look scary with his big black eyes and scaly skin, but isolated mute Eliza (Sally Hawkins) sees past that to the scared creature within. The ‘Big Bad’ comes in the form fo Micheal Shannon’s villainous government agent, Strickland, a very human face of unsympathetic “just following orders” iniquity. A cinematic masterpiece, taking inspiration from classic sweep-you-off-your-feet grand romance, wrapped up in a brooding fantasy thriller, complimented by an epic score, The Shape of Water is perfect for the spooky season. Perfect for any season, really.

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Watch This Space: October 26 – November 1

Welcome to your weekly go-to film guide – WatchThisSpace – where we recommend what to watch in the cinema and on the television, and remind you of those brilliant films hiding in your DVD collection. This week, it’s all about spooks and scares, as we celebrate Hallowe’en!

IN THE CINEMA

It’s seemed like an eternity since the cinematic release date for ‘Spectre’ was announced, but the time is finally here! James Bond’s return to the big screen promises to be fantastic. Cast and crew have all claimed that this is the most ambitious Bond film of all time, in terms of scale and stunts. This may also be the final time that Daniel Craig will be starring as Britain’s best suave, super-spy, so we’re hoping this will be a fitting end to arguably the best Bond era there has ever been.

ON THE TV

Seeing as though it’s Hallowe’en this week (and given the fact that this is an awful week for films on television), we’ve decided to give you a run down of the best spooky films on offer on the 31st.

16:55 GMT: They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky. They’re altogether ooky. The Addams Family! At least that’s all I needed to get in the mood to watch this one! Watch the playful, family friendly, ‘The Addams Family’ on Film4 this afternoon.

18:00 GMT: Simply a classic in the genre of all things ghoulish, ‘Ghostbusters’ is a must watch this Hallowe’en on Comedy Central. It will make for some pleasant family afternoon viewing before the really scary stuff starts later on at night. So make the most of it whilst you can!

21:00 GMT: One of many adaptations of Bram Stoker’s famous fictional vampire, but 1992’s ‘Dracula’ is regarded by many as one of the best. Starring Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves under the direction of Francis Ford Coppola, this star studded adaptation hits all the right notes for a spooky night in. Tune in to Film4 for this classic horror/romance.

22:00 GMT: Undoubtedly one of the “big three”, ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ is more than a match for the ‘Halloween’ and ‘Friday the 13th’ franchises, in definitively classic Halloween Horror movies, with plenty of sequels out of which to make a malicious movie marathon. Don’t miss Freddy Kruger at his filthiest on Dave and make sure to tuck in the covers extra tight! A near-perfect Halloween weekend picture.

22:25 GMT: Drew Goddard’s ‘The Cabin In The Woods’ is a film which has really divided audiences down the years. Some praise the originality, whilst others call it completely ridiculous and nonsensical. It’s a film that certainly ticks the boxes in terms of scares, gore and monsters but the plot is pretty far fetched. If you can open up your imagination and get involved in the narrative, head to Channel 5 tonight and get behind the sofa!

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

Creep: Not the Radiohead documentary we’ve all been craving. Instead, a delightfully dark, found-footage thriller, starring the terrific two man duet of Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice. When a videographer answers a Craigslist ad for a one-day shoot in a remote mountain town, he finds his client is not at all what he initially seems. A tremendously unnerving indie picture, that debuted out of 2014’s SXSW Film Festival, ‘Creep’ is a must-watch for anybody who likes Duplass’ work, and is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat!

Phantom Of The Opera: The 2004 film adaption of the masterpiece musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and French Novel, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra. A tremendous box-office success, ‘Phantom Of The Opera’, is delightfully mysterious, spooky, and musically inclined. Although panned by critics, this horror drama, directed by Joel Schumacher, is entertaining nonetheless for fans of the classic tale. Catch Gerard Butler in his best pre-spartan role, and dwell in the fantastic sets, magnificent costumes, great art direction, and imaginative camera work that will immerse you in such a dangerous time!

The Purge: You know the annoying guy in your office who’s always bragging about how great life is? Or the jerk that cuts you off in traffic with a stupid smirking face? Well, it’s time for payback. Release your vicious angst and vengeful thoughts with this horrifyingly wicked, mischievously original concept – for 24 hours, once every year, there is no law. Find out how truly terrifying it can be when there is no way to protect yourself and your family with this underrated hit.

Slumdog Millionaire: Danny Boyle’s new biopic, ‘Steve Jobs’, premiered in London this week, to a widely warm reception, with it already being tipped for academy awards. One of Boyle’s most celebrated films, by audiences and critics alike, was the 2008 smash hit, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. If you’re done with frights and trick or treaters, this winner of 8 Academy Awards, is perfect. The film follows Jamal (Dev Patel), who is arrested under suspicion of cheating his way to a fortune on India’s favourite game show, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. The film takes you on a journey through every walk of life across India, from the grand palaces and the Taj Mahal to the criminal undergrounds where human traffickers rule the cities. This moving and breathtaking film is an absolute must see if you haven’t already.

This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Nick Deal and Patrick Alexander.