However, although you can all relax because you don't have to be romantic for another whole year, I've decided to share my go-to list of movies and books that really get the heart pounding and the blood pumping.
Why yes I am sarcastic, why do you ask?
Seriously, whether you believe that a horror movie is a good date or a way to work out your bitter single aggression, love is a great topic for horror. Love is scary, yo. At any second, that person that you've just nuzzled and cuddled with in bed could roll over and knife you in the spleen. That's what intimacy is all about, folks, trusting and loving someone even though they could spleen-knife you at any given moment.
So in honor of that, here's my go-to Valentine's Day horror list:
My Bloody Valentine – Okay, this is like a given. Mining accidents, Valentine’s Day, and a killer on the loose – sounds like a date night movie to me!
The Lost Boys – The original vampire romance movie. Yes it is, no arguments. Kick back and harken to a simpler time when boys met girls at concerts, and the only thing they had to worry about was accidentally getting hazed into a gang of bloodsuckers at the risk of potentially destroying their own family. There’s something for everyone: comedic elements, vampire gore, great music, nostalgia…plus, the vampires in this movie are kind of like the boy band members of the same era: a type for everyone! Choose your favorite and have your friends do the same – if your choices happen to clash, arm wrestle until there’s a victor! Scream and throw things when they get killed off! Ignore the sequels because nothing will come close to the vampires in the original! Plus, this movie introduced the world to Cry Little Sister, the get-it-on anthem for the undead.
Only Lovers Left Alive - A new addition to the list, and admittedly more horror-oriented than scary. This is more like vampire slice-of-life, though holy god, you guys, this is THE vampire romance movie. Just don't even think about Twilight. This is what the genre should be. Plus there is some carnage here and there, and it's worth it for Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, and the "She drank Ian!" quote. If you do want something actually romantic, this is your title. Plus, it's so gorgeous to look at and relaxing to watch, you'll thank me for forcing it into your life.
Shivers – The movie for those who want a sexier type of holiday. This film centers on an apartment complex where a parasite that causes uncontrollable lust is on the loose. What chance does rational human logic stand when it’s up against the type of attraction and passion that’s hardwired into the human condition?
Teeth – Also for those who may want something sexier with a bite. Heh. The tale of a girl with an interesting condition, it takes the journey from her devotion to abstinence to discovering an odd sort of sexual awakening and power. Fun fact: a lot of cultures have stories about uh, dental issues in southern regions, dating back hundreds of years. Usually it’s a wizard or witch that afflicts the poor girl with the condition, but those stories are always an interesting read.
May – The classic tale of a girl who just wants to be loved, despite the fact that she’s an outsider and the deck is stacked against her. A great film for those who are feeling bitter about singlehood.
I am Legend – The book ending is much better, but that’s not why it makes the list. This is a GREAT movie for singles to watch, because hey, you think you’ve got it bad? At least you’re not the only known human alive trying to survive in a world filled with monsters. Now things don’t seem so bad, do they?
Friday the 13th – The original is the best, and it may seem a little sideways for a Valentine’s Day movie, but think of it. You don’t have anyone or you don’t get to curl up with someone? Hey, look at what happens to those wild teens that get with someone too fast! Again, now don’t you feel better?
The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker – A cuddly novella that explores relationships as much as it introduces us to those wacky Cenobites and their puzzle box. What happens when a wife just isn’t feeling the spark between her and her husband? Should she get counseling? File for divorce? Help resurrect her former lover who’s caught in a hellish dimension of pain and pleasure by killing people who are interested in her? Known for exploring the line between pleasure and pain as well as introducing the world to what would become Hellraiser, this book is a quick read and an interesting look into the dark nature of the heart.
Cold Turkey by Nancy A. Collins – We all know I love the Sonja Blue series. For me, this is a fabulous look at how a dark vampire romance might actually go. This has shown up as a short story and as part of one of the books in the main trilogy, but it’s also nice to have it separately because it is one of the best events in that world. Sonja (a “living” vampire and slayer) begins getting interested in Judd, a human, even though she’s usually careful to avoid too much direct interaction with humans. And then The Other (her more vampiric/demonic part) clicks into gear and takes an interest…you’ll have to read to find out the rest. Like a lot of things on this list, not for the faint of heart, but if you’re into vampires acting out, this is definitely for you.
The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein – Adolescence is a crazy age, especially where friends are involved. This gets listed because it’s a great coming of age story, and while there isn’t any romance per say, I think it really gives a great look into how territorial girls are when it comes to their friends. Set in a boarding school around the 50s-60s, the narrator gets suspicious of Ernessa, the new girl who keeps to herself…except when she takes an interest in the narrator’s best friend Lucy.
Good Neighbors by Holly Black: (Kin, Kith, and Kind) – The story of a (supposedly) mortal girl with faerie relatives and her fight to figure out what she really is. There are also a lot of great subplots with her circle of friends involving relationships. Would you magically control the guy you were dating if you had the chance? If you knew he was cheating, would you sell your soul and try to kill him? What if you thought you had a strong foundation and found he was sneaking out to be fed from by water nymphs? There’s also an interesting triangle between the lead character’s father, his best friend (a human who was in love with him), and the faerie he ends up marrying because she was there and hot. It's fascinating to see a lot of tried and true faerie happenings set in a modern universe, as well.
Misery by Stephen King – The awesome tale about an uber-fan of an unfortunate writer. What would you do if your favorite person was on your doorstep, and you found out that they were ending the very thing that kept you going?
Carrie by Stephen King – Another one for singles to feel vindicated by. An awkward girl gets to go to her first high school dance and feel like she might have a shot at a social life…until her psychic powers are awakened. Then she gets the chance to flatten all of those who have made her life hell.
Granted, the list is dark and a little gruesome in places, but since when is love neat and tidy? Sure, we may celebrate with roses and teddy bears, but if you think of it, love is messy. Love has its own shadows.The heart has blood and ventricles and stuff. Love can tip people over the edge, unravel the rational, and destroy lives as much as it can save people. So if you’re going to curl up with a book or a movie this month, why not do it with a title that really explores what love is all about?
And hey, if you're feeling put out or sarcastic or just want a break from the flowers and hearts, this is a great way to take a moment to realize that life is pretty skippy compared to some of the alternatives.