As the team at Silver State Storytellers prepares to dive into the enchanting world of love stories with our upcoming “Love Notes” short film competition, I thought it would be fun to explore the unconventional allure of darkly romantic horror films. Back when I was a competitor in these competitions, our team was scolded for submitting a horror romance to the “Love Notes” short film competition. I’m here to prove that love knows no bounds, transcending the traditional realms of romcoms and tear-jerking dramas (don’t even mention A Walk To Remember to me since I still can’t watch that movie without ugly crying). Let’s celebrate the eerie beauty of love, from gothic tales to the most unconventional unions—because even two zombies sharing brains can be an oddly enchanting love story. Join me as I illuminate the haunting charm of romance within the realms of horror, in hopes of setting the stage for the possibility of darker narratives to be entered in the Love Notes competition.

I should say that this list is not in any sort of ranked order, just a collection of 14 of my favorites.

#1: Valentine

No exploration of Valentine’s Day horror is complete without a trip down the blood-soaked memory lane of 2001’s slasher delight, Valentine. This post-Scream bloodfest is tailor-made for those questioning the sincerity of their admirers—because, in matters of the heart, sometimes the answer might just be a chilling “loves me not.” A widely panned bomb, this heart-stopping screamer aims straight for the jugular and the eyerolls.

Featuring an ensemble of 90s heartthrobs and scream queens (David Boreanaz, Denise Richards, Katherine Heigl, Marley Shelton, and Jessica Cauffiel, among others), Valentine weaves a laughable script into a tapestry of suspense. For aficionados of cheesy knife-to-the-heart slashers, this film is the perfect cinematic companion to snuggle up with—complete with a box of chocolates to sweeten the sinister experience.

#2: My Bloody Valentine

Journey into the heart of horror with the 1981 gem, My Bloody Valentine. The film is about a small mining town, eagerly anticipating its first Valentine’s Day celebration in 20 years. The air is thick with love and anticipation, yet beneath the surface lies a dark secret—a traumatic event from the town’s past that sets the stage for a chilling reunion. Enter a psychotic killer, freshly escaped from an insane asylum, on a vengeful mission to unleash terror upon the unsuspecting town. As the sinister plot unfolds, you’ll be gripped by suspense, carnage, and the unsettling ambiance of Lovecraftian horror. I invite you to sink your pickaxe into the spine-chilling My Bloody Valentine.

#3: Happy Death Day

This film is just plain fun from start to finish! In the twisted world of Happy Death Day, horror meets the unpredictability of love. A college student, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), is stuck in a time loop on her birthday, reliving the same day over and over. As if navigating the complexities of college life isn’t challenging enough, she must also contend with a Cherub-masked killer set on ending her life. The film intertwines the thrill of a slasher with a Groundhog Day twist, offering a unique blend of horror and romance as Tree makes puppy dog eyes with the classic “Golden Retriever Boyfriend” type, Carter (Israel Broussard). With each repeating day, Tree unravels the mystery while facing her vulnerabilities and discovering unexpected connections. In her quest for freedom, Tree grapples not only with the identity of her deadly Cherub-faced stalker but also with her vulnerabilities.

#4: The Love Witch

In the enchanting world of The Love Witch, modern-day magic meets deadly consequences. This is the captivating tale of a contemporary witch who, with spells and sorcery, ensnares men in the web of love, leading to perilous outcomes. What sets this film apart is its timeless allure, evoking the golden era of classic Hammer films. From the spellbinding style of wardrobe and makeup to the vibrant colors of the set, every frame resonates with the seductive charm of Samantha Robinson’s Love Witch. Let this bewitching modern masterpiece cast a spell on your heart, creating an unforgettable Valentine’s Day.

#5: Bram Stoker’s Dracula

The tagline is “Love never dies.” I mean, that alone is enough for the timeless love story of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to be on your watchlist this Valentine’s Day. Passion, darkness, and immortal longing converge in this cinematic masterpiece. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, this perfect adaptation of the classic tale weaves a hypnotic narrative, exploring the depths of love and a thirst for eternity. Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Count Dracula and Winona Ryder’s Mina Harker bring to life a love that transcends centuries, punctuated by stunning visuals and a haunting score. The film’s gothic styling and profound exploration of the eternal dance between love and immortality make it an essential addition to this Bloody Embrace lineup.

#6: Bride of Frankenstein

In the shadowy realm of horror, Bride of Frankenstein unveils a narrative far beyond the widely recognized Monster and his Bride. For those attuned to the subtleties, the real romance brews in the unconventional connection between Doctor Frankenstein and Doctor Pretorius (one of horror’s queeniest male characters to date). Their Pygmalion-esque “bromance” pulsates with homoerotic energy, as they embark on the quest to create life through unconventional means—a tale that, to some, echoes the journey of two gay men yearning for a child of their own. As their toxic partnership unfolds, leading to an electrifying climax, Bride of Frankenstein stands as a haunting testament to the complexities of love and creation, making it a captivating addition to any Valentine’s Day horror binge-fest.

#7: Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies is a playful twist on the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet. This adorable horror comedy introduces us to a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult), whose heart begins to beat anew when he encounters the vivacious Julie (Teresa Palmer). As their unconventional love story unfolds, Warm Bodies adds a unique flavor to my Bloody Embrace horror lineup, proving that even amid the undead, love can find a way.

#8: Ready or Not

On your wedding day, the promise of eternal love takes center stage, but what if the marital bliss comes with a deadly twist? The thrilling and darkly comedic world of Ready or Not injects a dose of chilling suspense into matrimonial vows. Grace, played by the ah-mah-zing Samara Weaving, marries into a wealthy family, only to find herself entangled in a deadly game on her wedding night. This bloody (and I mean bloody) and twisted tale of love and survival adds a macabre charm to my Valentine’s Day horror lineup, proving that even the most joyous occasions can take a sinister turn.

#9: The Shape of Water

Get ready for a reel catch! Guillermo del Toro’s highly-lauded The Shape of Water serves up a love story that’s as *Gia Gunn Voice* “fresh as tilapia right off the boat.” In this Cold War-era tale, Elisa, a mute woman, finds herself hooked on an unusual romance with a mysterious amphibious creature. With a love so deep, this film is sure to make a splash in your heart, especially if you’re a fan of sushi!

#10: The Loved Ones

For many people Prom Night is one of the most romantic nights of their lives; for others, it can be sheer terror! The Loved Ones is legit the QUEEN of twisted love stories! Like, forget flowers and chocolates, this film crowns a killer prom queen with a vengeance and a knack for torture (pretty sure she could get a job at Guantanamo Bay). I love a good female horror villain and Robin McLeavy’s “Princess” does not disappoint in serving up the crazy with a side of bizarre! Prepare for a rollercoaster of obsession and horror – this one’s not for the faint-hearted, sweetie!

#11: Sleepy Hollow

Tim Burton’s hauntingly romantic Sleepy Hollow weaves love and horror in a spellbinding dance. Follow Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) as he unravels the mystery of the Headless Horseman, turning the classic legend into a macabre and bewitching love story. Prepare for a trek through darkened woods, where passion and terror collide in this horror romance.

#12: Little Shop of Horrors

“Feed me, Seymour!” If you’re looking for a bit of sci-fi horror alien madness from another planet this Valentine’s Day, then I suggest cuddling up with Little Shop of Horrors! This horror-musical comedy is a hilarious twist on romance and green thumbs gone rogue. As Audrey II craves more than just sunlight, love blossoms in the strangest places. Watch out for the blooms and laughs, as this charmingly monstrous film takes root in my Bloody Embrace binge-list!

#13: Interview with the Vampire

Interview with the Vampire, or as I like to call it, Two Vampires and a Baby! There’s no denying the homoerotic Pygmalion-ness of this film. I mean, Louis (Brad Pitt) and Lestat (Tom Cruise) literally dress Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) up like a doll, just like Professor Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering do with Eliza in Pygmalion.

Anne Rice certainly knows how to serve up the melodrama in this vampire soap opera, but it gets major bonus points for all the 90s eye candy (Antonio Banderas and Christian Slater slay me). Sink your fangs into this twisted and sometimes humorous story of the perils of immortal parenting and eternal love. It’s a bite-sized romance, undead style!

#14: Bride of Chucky

And last, but certainly not least, the ultimate horror romcom, Bride of Chucky. Join the killer couple, Chucky and Tiff, in a horror comedy that’s a match made in horror heaven as they slash their way through a Natural Born Killers-esque road trip massacre across New Jersey.

Bride of Chucky gave us something we never knew we wanted to see, two dolls made of rubber going at it in a blood-soaked hotel room. This film was a turning point in the genre as it proved that even the most terrifying horror icons like Chucky can find love.

Have I missed any of your favorite horror romance films? What gets your blood boiling and gives you goosebumps? Share your top picks in the comments below! And mark your calendars for the ultimate celebration of love (and maybe horror) – our ‘Love Notes’ Short Film Competition! Starting on January 24th, teams will dive into the depths of romance and creativity. Join us for the screening and awards ceremony on February 17th at the Brewery Arts Center in Carson City! Let’s make it an affair to dismember!

Lyric Burt, the President and Co-Founder of Silver State Storytellers, is not your average storytelling maestro. By day, he navigates the creative seas with strategic finesse, but when the moon rises, he's a horror film devotee. Amidst conquering the Roman Empire through documentaries and historical biographies, grooving to early 2000's jams, and painting the town pink, Lyric infuses a quirky charm into the art of storytelling, proving that whimsy and professional prowess make a magical blend.

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