Ah, Valentine’s Day- that special time of year when, if you’re in a relationship, everything seems just wonderful. If you’re not, you pretty much wish everyone around you would stop being so damn lovey-dovey and just grow up already.
The horror genre has seen its share of passionate lovers and soul mates over the years willing to fight it out to the end, whether they’re being chased by creatures, psychotic serial killers, Mother Nature or even as they struggling against internal forces that threaten those they love most in the world.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day this Friday, I decided to pay homage to some of my very favorite couples in the horror that demonstrate to the very fullest the idea, “til death do us part.” Check out the first part of my 14 Favorite Horror Couples countdown below and look for part two later this week right here on Daily Dead!
In no particular order…
Steve & Diane Freeling- Poltergeist
Man, how cool were Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams in Poltergeist? As far as movie parents from the 80’s go, the Freelings were exactly kind of parental supervision I wished I had when I was growing up. Steve and Diane had an all-around awesome free-spiritedness to them (well, before Carol Anne started talking to the TV that is...). They were undyingly loyal to each other and their children, and they still loved to smoke joints even with the pressures of adulthood were coming down hard on them- like home construction, dealing with a horny teenage daughter running around, Robbie being eaten by a killer tree in their backyard or little Carol Anne being taken by the ‘TV people.’
When the malevolent spirits do finally fully invade the Freeling home, the family’s love is put to the ultimate test. Despite every torturous moment they are forced to go through, both Steve and Diane come out a stronger couple than they were when the story began, which is even more remarkable. Love like this is rarely portrayed in horror (or portrayed well) and Nelson and Williams’ affection for each other is practically tangible, making them one of the best cinematic couples ever (within or outside of the genre).
Alice Johnson & Dan Jordan- A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 & 5
What started off as a silent crush turned into something much more between Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox) and Dan Jordan (Danny Hassel) in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. As an awkward girl growing up in the 80’s, Alice was always the character I related to the most in the Elm Street films. I also thought it was really cool how in The Dream Master, Wilcox’s heroine continue to find her inner strength that allowed her to not only defeat Freddy Krueger, but also nab the guy of her dreams. And let’s be honest, the Nightmare on Elm Street series had never been about happy endings until these two found each other.
As their relationship turned more physical, that’s when poor Alice and Dan’s love was tested in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. Returning dream demon Krueger finds a way to kill off everyone Alice loves through the slumbering unborn love child growing inside her womb. Freddy gets the best of poor Dan when he falls asleep riding his motorcycle (by far the coolest kill of Nightmare 5), which means there were no real fairytale endings for Alice and Dan, but at least their love lived on in baby Jacob. It was a sweet note to end The Dream Child on and, even though it’s only Alice and their spawn that makes it through this sequel, I always enjoyed the relationship her character shared with Dan, regardless if it was a bit short-lived.
Chucky & Tiffany- Bride of Chucky/Seed of Chucky
After taking the Child’s Play series in a more straight-forward horror direction in its first two sequels, writer Don Mancini and director Ronny Yu took everyone’s favorite killer doll to the most logical place it could- dark comedy- and gave us Bride of Chucky. This sequel introduces Charles Lee Ray’s main squeeze, Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly), who, after locating the remains of Chucky after his unfortunate demise in Child’s Play 3, resurrects the killer doll so that they can continue to be together.
Of course, Tiffany’s plan doesn’t go so well and she soon finds her own soul trapped inside a female doll, courtesy of a vengeful Chucky that kills her off and voodoo curses Tiffany’s soul there forever. What starts off as a morbid back and forth turns into true love as Chucky and Tiffany, both now forever stuck in doll form, come to terms with their feelings. They soon realize that their bitter rage is really love and that despite everything, they’re soul mates- even if most days they can’t stand the sight of each other.
Bride of Chucky concluded with the tease of a Chucky/Tiffany offspring, which then became the subject of Seed of Chucky. This sequel, an homage to the films of Ed Wood and John Waters, finds Chucky and Tiffany resurrected by their child Glen (or Glenda, depending on the little tyke’s mood at that particular moment). Everyone’s favorite maniac doll couple is back for more blood-soaked action, but as parents struggling with a child that’s “different.” Most disapprove of Seed of Chucky’s campier qualities, but I’m a fan, warts and all. It’s because of their morbidly funny relationship that I consider myself such a huge admirer of both these films and, of course, Chucky and Tiffany.
Gomez & Morticia Addams- The Addams Family
Growing up, I was more of an Addams Family kid than I was a Muensters kid, as I spent many afternoons during my summer breaks glued to my TV so I could get in as much time possible with the sardonic Gomez Addams (John Astin), the voluptuous and refined apple of his eye, Morticia (Carolyn Jones) and the rest of their ‘creepy and kooky’ family.
What I always enjoyed about the relationship between Gomez and Morticia was that he worshipped her. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a husband character portrayed the same way on television since The Addams Family aired and the best part was that in reciprocation, Morticia doted on him just the same without their love ever feeling one-sided. For all their eccentricities, they were madly in love. Thankfully the feature film versions of The Addams Family (with the equally incredible Raul Julia and Anjelica Houston portraying the loving couple) depicted their relationship perfectly as well. Ah, Cara Mia.
Charley Brewster & Amy Peterson- Fright Night
Being that I spent a huge chunk of my childhood watching Fright Night over and over (and over) again, Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) and his virginal girlfriend, Amy Peterson, quickly became two of my favorite teenage lovers. Despite the fact that Amy succumbs to the charms of sexy vampire Jerry, there was still an innocence to their relationship that endured. It even shone through during the film’s final moments when it appears that Charley finally got Amy to give it up, so to speak.
In a lot of 80’s horror movies, whenever someone’s significant other gets killed off or taken by the villain, you rarely see characters react with a true emotional response. I always thought that Charley’s sort of approach to getting Amy back from Jerry was wonderfully noble and kind of brazenly stupid all the same. Charlie wasn’t thinking with his head, but with his heart and how many male characters in horror actually do that anymore? You can’t help but appreciate a character that has a heart like Charley’s and that heart is why Fright Night - and its characters - have remained timeless for almost three decades now.
Shaun & Liz- Shaun of the Dead
Speaking of a couple that endures some hard times, a great example of a modern horror movie couple that also became stronger is Shaun (Simon Pegg) and Liz (Kate Ashfield) from Shaun of the Dead. Sure, they have their hiccups along the way (like Liz dumping Shaun after he forgets to book a dinner reservation for their anniversary), but the world going to hell allows Shaun to shed his slackerish skin and show Liz that he’s a man who will fight to be with her.
We also see just how much they love each other during the poignant final moments of Shaun’s third act. Our hero and his beloved Liz, unable to shoot each other in the head, decide to go out in a blaze of glory together by braving the zombie hordes hand in hand, only to be rescued at the very last second. It’s small moments like that in Shaun of the Dead that are just so revealing of Shaun and Liz’s perfect, yet imperfect, love for each other. Deep down, we all just want someone we can make it through the zombie apocalypse with.
Seth Brundle & Veronica Quaife- The Fly
Everything I initially learned about sexual chemistry in film comes from the very first time I saw David Cronenberg’s The Fly. I had a single mom who loved horror, so I luckily spent many summers at the drive-in seeing some incredible movies that most kids probably had no business seeing at such a young age. Sure, I may have been waaaay too young to understand everything that was going on, but even I could sense a palpable sexual tension that pulsated through every single scene between Seth (Jeff Goldblum) and Veronica (Geena Davis), even if I didn’t totally get all the sex stuff or even the abortion subplot (I was a kid- I just thought she was having ‘surgery’).
As I’ve continued to revisit Cronenberg’s masterful remake, I can’t help but be more and more amazed by the chemistry between Goldblum and Davis and the heartbreaking tragedy that befalls them. Very few love affairs in horror raged as fiercely as Seth and Veronica’s, ultimately making their relationship one of the most memorable for me as a genre fan.
Also, bonus points to a movie that can make science AND journalism seem like sexy professions.