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Romance isn’t dead, but these 14 killer romantic horror movies will take your breath away, whether you watch solo or with someone special.

love and horror

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A lot of horror lovers are also romantics at heart — or at least the ones I associate with. After all, modern horror was birthed from the gothic tradition, and most gothic novels involve a sweeping romance that makes the stakes higher and the horror more affecting. 

This list ranges from sweet to sour to savory, a little bit for everyone. So, if you like your romance darker and more depraved, we’ve got you covered.

I believe there’s somebody for everybody and a romantic horror story for us all. (Not to mention, I literally named my production company Love and Horror, so this is more or less officially my brand at this point in my life, and I am embracing it.) 

Let the Right One In (2008)

Romantic horror Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In In is part horror film, part coming-of-age marvel, and part delicate fairytale. Oskar, a bullied boy, becomes infatuated with Eli, a young vampire who moves into his apartment complex.

The result is bloody and heartrending — a vicious reminder of our humanity and capacity to love. 

Widely available on many platforms, including Tubi, Prime Video, and Peacock

Bones and All (2022)

Romantic horror Bones and All

Anchored by a beautiful performance by Taylor Russell, Bones and All is a cannibal romance that will be sure to slake your hunger. It’s both tender and terrifying in equal measure as characters Maren and Lee, two young cannibals, try to feel their way through the complexity of young adulthood under the yoke of horrific primal impulses.

A near-perfect mix of romance and. horror, the ending may also be one of my favorites in some time. 

Watch on Prime Video, Paramount+, and other platforms

Crimson Peak (2015)

Romantic horror Crimson Peak

Guillermo del Toro is our long-time purveyor of romantic horror. Hell, even his film Mimic has a romance subplot. The man knows what makes love and horror tick, so Crimson Peak is a divine marriage of the two concepts. Edith and Thomas’s chemistry is palpable, and it culminates in a beautifully and tastefully shot sex scene that might be able to sway even the strongest of the sex scene naysayers.

Come for the romance, stay for the ghosts and an exquisite Jessica Chastain. 

Watch on Netflix or rent on VOD

The Shape of Water (2017)

Romantic horror Shape of Water

Remember when I said Del Toro knows romance? Case in point: here he is again on this list with an Academy Award-winning tour de force.

The Shape of Water received the reputation of the fish man sex movie upon release. While it absolutely is the fish man sex movie, it is more than that. Del Toro reminds us what makes us all human and explores the power of connection, even with those that seem most foreign to us.

This movie is one of the most tender and sweet depictions of love on celluloid, and it deserves that respect — and not to be reduced to one scene that had people pearl-clutching. 

Rent on VOD

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

Little Shop of Horrors

If you love pastiches on old-school horror, Little Shop of Horrors is the film for you. Based on the musical that was based on a film, this is a horror darling that proves a good puppet is worth more than all the CGI in the world. Seymour and Audrey have such a pure romance built on mutual respect and admiration.

Somewhere That’s Green” will never fail to make me cry and might cause you to shed a tear as well.

Rent on VOD

Thirst (2009)

Thirst

Park Chan-wook’s (Oldboy) vampiric take on Emile Zola’s Therese Raquin is hypnotic, weird, and gorgeous all at once. If you like vampires, moral dilemmas, and forbidden romance, Thirst is for you. Not to mention, it stars Song Kang-ho (Parasite), one of the best and most magnetic actors South Korea has to offer.

Sang-hyun and Tae-ju’s romance is searing and manages to be both sexy and volatile. 

Rent on VOD

The Whip and the Body (1963)

The Whip and the Body

Mario Bava did sadism and masochism in film before it was cool. Here, we have a roguish Christopher Lee and a gorgeous Daliah Lavi playing a couple that are decidedly not good for each other yet, in many ways, are a perfect fit. Their magnetism and the eerie gothic plot drive this toxic romance.

There’s a feminist reading of this film that is usually reduced to mere schlock, which I am not sure the world is ready for. 

Watch on Kanopy or rent on Amazon

Habit (1995)

Larry Fessenden (The Last Winter) knows how to make some of the most affecting horror ever with little to nothing. He stars, writes, and directs in Habit. While it’s an allegory for drug addiction, characters Sam and Anna partake in a creepy and unsettling romance that is decidedly not good for either of them but more so for Sam due to the possibility that Anna is a vampire.

This is indie horror brilliance at its finest. 

Watch on many platforms, including Tubi and Shudder

The Fly (1958)

I have a soft spot for the original The Fly, and I find its sweeping romantic throughline to be one of the most devastating out there. Andre and Helene are tasked with an unthinkable event, and the result is not only terrifying to think about but heartbreaking.

While it does have the charm of 50s horror silliness, the emotional core of the movie rings hard and true, and it’s obvious how this version gave way to David Cronenberg’s. 

Rent on VOD

The Fly (1986)

Romantic horror The Fly

While I am an original The Fly kind of gal, David Cronenberg offers up a romance that is just as complicated, albeit more grotesque. The story is grounded by Geena Davis and bolstered by Jeff Goldblum, creating one conflicting and harrowing whirlwind romance.

As heartbreakingly beautiful as it is horrific, it ends in one of the saddest scenes known to horror. 

Rent on VOD

Don’t Look Now (1973)

Don’t Look Now has been scandalizing people for years, but it’s really not that scandalous. Nicolas Roeg looks at what love is like amid grief in such a tender way, creating something that is lush and gothic. No wonder it is only one of two adaptations of Daphne du Maurier’s works that the author herself liked.

It’s a simply stunning masterpiece of filmmaking. 

Watch on Showtime or Parmount+, among other platforms

Dead Alive (1992)

I will always argue that Dead Alive (aka Braindead) is the perfect mix of rom-com and zom-com. Lionel and Paquita fall in love and fight side by side, becoming the definition of couple goals in the film’s bloody and bonkers back half.

Who doesn’t want someone who will fight hordes of the undead with you? That has been my life’s dream. 

It’s not currently streaming; YouTube or Internet Archive is your best bet

Practical Magic (1998) 

Practical Magic is the movie that my idea of romance is built around, even as an adult woman.

That absolutely shocking moment when Sally realizes that the man she dreamed up that supposedly didn’t exist does, in fact, exist is one of the most perfectly romantic moments in cinema ever. Sometimes, your coping mechanisms and acts of harm reduction aren’t enough to save you from the fact that somewhere out there, your person is just walking around.

I hope and pray that they wish for you, too, like Gary did Sally. 

Rent on VOD

Rebecca (1940) 

If you come in here and tell me Rebecca is not a horror movie, I will laugh at you.

Emotional manipulation, intrigue, and wealth cause the second Mrs. de Winter to doubt everything as she is thrust into the world of her handsome older husband. No one does suspenseful romance on the page like du Maurier.

This is a worthy adaptation if you ignore that Hitchcock didn’t understand the novel, and Joan Harrison’s understanding of the novel carries the film along with the actors. 

Not streaming, but YouTube and Internet Archive have you covered

But wait… there’s more! These five fiction gems will warm the hearts of literary lovers.

Are you more interested in reading than watching? Here’s a mini list of literary suggestions… just because we love you!

Helpmeet by Naben Ruthnum

It’s 1900, and Louise Wilk is taking her dying husband home to Buffalo, where he grew up. Dr. Edward Wilk is wasting away from an aggressive and debilitating malady. But it’s becoming clearer that his condition isn’t exactly a disease but a phase of existence that seeks to transform and ultimately possess him.

This short, well-written novella is a breeze to read and perfect for fans of strange, disturbing stories and body horror. 

Available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic is a 2020 gothic horror novel by Mexican Canadian author Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Set in 1950s Mexico, it centers on a young woman who travels to a creepy, isolated house to investigate her cousin’s claims that her new husband is trying to murder her — and that something supernatural may be happening at the abode.

One of the best-reviewed genre books of the year, Mexican Gothic is a must-read for fans of gothic horror, spooky ghost stories, and compelling mystery thrillers. 

Available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, or audiobook editions

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Often hailed as one of the most haunting and tormented love stories ever written, Wuthering Heights is the tale of the troubled orphan Heathcliff and his doomed love for Catherine Earnshaw. Though it’s an undisputed literary classic today, it caused quite a stir upon its release for its controversial and heavy themes of mental and physical cruelty, domestic abuse, and critiques of Victorian morality, religion, and the class system.

Absolutely chilling for its reflection of the cruelty of humanity, this expertly crafted and haunting tale of love and horror is a must-read for… well, everyone. 

Available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats

Let the Right One In by John Adjvide Lindqvist 

There’s a good reason why Let the Right One In, the 2004 vampire novel by Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist, has been adapted so often — twice as a feature film (one Swedish, one American), as well