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 #3

Another weekend arrives and you’re looking for a new pick to stream at home. We’ve got you covered. The JUMPCUT team have selected a new batch of recommendations for you. Below you’ll find some classic films you never knew were hiding just under your streaming radars, some hit comedy finds, and more!

Select Classic Cinema on Streaming

Amazon Prime, Netflix US/UK

Classic film fans often bemoan the lack of older films on the most popular streaming sites, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. To a large extent, this is true – there certainly isn’t as wide a selection as there should be. Classic Hollywood fans usually turn to TCM, Mubi and Filmstruck to get their fix. Kanopy is another source for those with a US library card. However, for a small rental fee ($2 or $3), there is much to be found on Amazon. In the last week, I have watched Sabotage (Hitchcock, 1936), Jamaica Inn (Hitchcock, 1939), Gaslight (Dickinson, 1940), Suspicion (Hitchcock, 1941), Gaslight (Cukor, 1944), The Lady From Shanghai (Welles, 1947) and The Wrong Man (Hitchcock, 1956)

I have watched these seven films for about $20, which isn’t far off the price of one cinema ticket in LA. Filmstruck isn’t compatible with my laptop, which is why I have to turn to Amazon for my fix. These films contain performances by Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Rita Hayworth and Henry Fonda. It is certainly something to have these stunningly beautiful faces beamed into your bedroom or living room. My favourites of the films I watched in the last week were Sabotage, which contains many classic Hitch hallmarks, even in the mid-1930s and Suspicion, which went in an unexpected direction. Of the two incarnations of Gaslight, I think I preferred the perhaps lesser-known 1940 version. I also watched a 2014 version of Jamaica Inn, starring Jessica Brown-Findlay, which is very different to the 1939 version, showing you how variable adaptations of novels can be.

Anyway, if you have an interest in older films and want to fill in some gaps in your classic cinema knowledge, doing some searching on Amazon could yield more results than you might expect. It is certainly worth seeking out films you may have heard of but never got around to. I’ve now taken the number of Hitchcock films I’ve seen up to 20 and the completist in me appreciates this! If you end up watching one black and white film (if you don’t normally) as the result of this, it will have been worth it. Get in touch with us at JUMPCUT if you do!

— Fiona Underhill

 

Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011)

Amazon Prime UK

Before John Boyega made it the big time in a galaxy far, far away, he was just a kid from the south end of London fighting aliens. Written and directed by Joe Cornish (the guy who originally wrote Ant-Man with Edgar Wright before that all went wrong), Attack the Block is an absolute gem of British sci-fi. Take an alien invasion, put it on a council estate, and mix in a teenage gang stuck with fighting them, you have a damn great time.

Attack the Block has the role that catapulted Boyega to stardom, classic British humour, great performances from the likes of Nick Frost and the 13th Doctor herself, Jodie Whittaker, and beautiful creature design. It’s the kind of film that really should’ve also put Joe Cornish on the map as the next superstar British director because it’s such a creative, funny, thrilling ride. In a phrase, Attack the Block is an irreverent, British version of The Raid, but with aliens. Go watch it now, bruv. Believe it.

–Rhys Bowen Jones

Crazy, Stupid, Love (Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, 2011)

Netflix UK/ Amazon Prime US

As the October bells ring across the world, so begins the tradition that dictates the month is solely dedicated to horror movies. Although, when you think about it, that can be a lot of harrowingly dark, grim filmmaking to watch over the course of 31 days, so I think it’s wise to, mayhaps, break up the watching schedule with some light-hearted viewings – I opted, in this regard, for Crazy Stupid Love.

The 2011 release has become a much-loved, regular watch for many filmgoers, casual and serious, around the globe. Directed by Glen Ficarra and John Requa, the film revolves around Cal (Steve Carrell) and the aftermath of his wife (Julianne Moore) requesting a divorce. In the midst of this downward spiral of drunken nights, he meets Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who takes him under his wing as some sort of twisted protege, and teaches him how to become a ladies man.

The script is delightfully lively and thrives off the natural strength of Carrell as a subtle but very effective performer, but most of all, Gosling in a hilariously deadpan role which shot him into comedic stardom. The pair’s clashing personalities are rife with chuckle-worthy moments, but at the film’s core, the message is wholesome – never give up on love, no matter what. Okay, back to demons, slashers and what not.

— Cameron Frew

 

Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004)

Amazon Prime UK

As the only available film of Edgar Wright’s ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ on Amazon Prime UK, and the fact Halloween is just around the corner, now is the perfect time to revisit the horror-comedy cult classic. Featuring a host of British talent, including Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Lucy Davis, and Kate Ashfield to name just some, this comedy not only offers up laughs, but also throws in some emotional gut-punches that still hurt no matter how many times you’ve seen the film. Filled with lots of little horror references for fans of the genre, this zom-rom-com has something for everyone and, most important of all, features the ‘Cornetto Trilogy’s signature fence jumping scene – something that never fails to get a laugh from me.

Head to the sofa, have a cup of tea, put your feet up, and watch Wright and co. do what they do best.

— Tom Sheffield

 

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Peter Sollett, 2008)

Netflix US/ Amazon Prime US/ iTunes US

When Norah (Kat Dennings) asks Nick (Michael Cera) to be her boyfriend for five minutes to mislead Trish (Alexis Dziena), she doesn’t realize this is the guy who’s been sending Trish post-breakup mixtapes. What ensues is a night of scavenger hunts, drunk friends, turkey sandwiches, and fluffy, young indie romance. Teenage me is swooning right now. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist found me just as I was discovering my real musical tastes. This film, completely harmless and carefree, carries one of the most infectious indie pop/rock soundtracks. Vampire Weekend, Bishop Allen, and Band of Horses follow you through the midnight hours as the group rush to find drunk friend Caroline (Ari Graynor) and make it to the secret rock band show on this New York night where the titular characters eventually fall in love.

Cera is fresh off the knockout success of Superbad and although you could argue he plays the same person in most roles, his Nick is the kind of emotional clutz that doesn’t seem overbearingly obnoxious and instead, makes a sweet pair with Dennings’ Norah. Before she became one half of the sitcom 2 Broke Girls, Dennings is the wallflower realist as Norah, who will gloriously throat punch someone if provoked. Flawed, sure. Need a charming indie rom com that isn’t 500 Days of Summer, then put this on.

— Jessica Peña


We hope you find what suits you this week. Don’t forget to let us know what you watch and tweet at us! Happy streaming!