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The Top Ten Horror Films For A Bizarre Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is just a day away, so we here at Diabolique Magazine are getting ready to pop the cork off a nice bottle of wine and pop in a special DVD for a special viewing on this special holiday with our special someones. It’s gonna be romantic.. and weird. We’ve reached out to our regular contributors and a couple friends to compile a list of what we believe to be essential viewing for a bizarre Valentine’s Day… Here’s our picks:

PIN (1988 Dir. Sandor Stern)

PIN (1988 Dir. Sandor Stern)

The second I read this call for Valentine’s Day themed horror movies, I knew the obsequious choice would be 1981’s classic My Bloody Valentine, of course. But one lesser known movie stands out to me only because its tone is so sickeningly anti-Valentine’s day, it’s a hilarious choice. What do Stargate’s David Hewlett, General Hospital’s Cynthia Preston, and Lost’s Terry O’Quinn all have in common? The creepy cult classic Pin (1988) remains one of the most unsettling things ever to come out from Canada, except maybe the Love Guru… Directed by Sandor Stern, Pin (short for Pinocchio) is the name of the anatomically-correct medical dummy (with no skin, organs and all exposed) and is used to explain bodily functions to children. Several years after their parents are killed in an auto wreck, Pin becomes the alter-ego to Leon who uses the life- sized doll to protect his sister Ursula from unwanted intruders and male suitors. Based on the novel by Andrew Neiderman (The Devil’s Advocate), Pin oozes with discomfort, uneasiness, and is wickedly unwholesome. Ultimately, the perfect anti-Valentine’s Day movie, period! Oh, and Pin is also used as a sex toy in the film. Happy Holidays! — Josef Luciano

THE LOVED ONES (2009, Dir. Sean Byrne)

THE LOVED ONES (2009, Dir. Sean Byrne)

Love really hurts in The Loved Ones; an insanely twisted and amusingly morbid horror import from Australia that recalls Carrie, Misery, Audition, and others. Just Pretend Molly Ringwald turned out to be a psychotic loon after she snagged the guy in Pretty in Pink and then tortured him as if in a feature-length version of the dinner scene in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Kasey Chambers’ lighthearted tune “Not Pretty Enough” will even stick with you from its creepy use. — Jeremy Kibler

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991, Dir. Jonathan Demme)

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991, Dir. Jonathan Demme)

The Silence of the Lambs was released on Valentine’s Day in 1991. Who can forget Hannibal Lecter saying to Clarice Starling, at one of her repeat visits during his incarceration: “People will say we’re in love”? And how sweetly sentimental of Dr. Lecter to order a meal of lamb after Starling confesses the memories that haunt her regarding the slaughtering of young sheep. The doctor displays his intense attraction to Starling when he mentally forces a fellow inmate, who has made unseemly comments regarding Clarice, to commit suicide. Innuendo plays a big part in Hannibal’s courtship of the FBI Academy student. He teases by withholding information, making her do a lot of the work in the relationship; keeping her interest level at a peak. She is fascinated by his brilliant mind, and intrigued by his unusual tastes and appetite. The Silence of the Lambs deserves a Valentine’s Day viewing with someone delectable. Enjoy the film, and the companion, with some fava beans and a nice glass of Chianti. — Sheila Merrit

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III (1993, Dir. Brian Yuzna)

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III (1993, Dir. Brian Yuzna)

Twenty years before the release of Warm Bodies, Brian Yunza and John Penney bit into the topics of love and the afterlife with Return of the Living Dead III. Ditching the humor of the first two installments, the third focuses on young lovers Curt and Julie, eager to make it on their own against the demands of Curt’s strict father. But when Julie dies in a motorcycle accident, Curt does what any grieving boyfriend would do and reanimates Julie using the nefarious trioxin gas from his father’s military lab. Of course resurrecting the dead rarely has its upsides, and Julie must fight to keep her insatiable hunger from coming between her and her dearly beloved.

Although it’s easy to dismiss the film as being a cheesy zombie flick from the 90’s, Return of the Living Dead III is something of a metaphor for the struggles that couples continually face throughout their relationships. Ultimately, this entry in the franchise is about sticking it out with your romantic partner despite any changes they’ve undergone, even if those changes include taking chunks out everyone else around. — Cody Noble

THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971, Dir. Robert Fuest)

THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971, Dir. Robert Fuest)

“Love means never having to say you’re ugly”

What could be more romantic than showing how much you care by keeping your dead wife embalmed in a luxury coffin in your basement, and avenging her death by killing a bunch of people you blame for her death in horrific and inventive ways? The premise to Dr. Phibes in enough to bring a tear to your eye when you really think about it. Poor Old Phibes, with his burnt off face, is sent mad with his desire for vengeance when his wife perishes in an accident. He plans out a series of murders in the style of the Ten Plagues of Egypt. In the spirit of true love he really goes to town with his plan using locusts, bats, frogs, ice, rats, bloodletting, and all manner of weird and wonderful stuff . But if all that mushy stuff is enough to turn your stomach, why not just revel in the vision that is Vincent Price in one of his finest roles as the dastardly Doctor, soak in the gloriously over the top killings, get distracted by his beautiful robotic assistant Vulnavia and her marvellous array of hats, and laugh along at the tongue in cheek dialogue. Robert Fuest’s exquisite art deco world provides the perfect backdrop, and we also have Dr.Phibes wind-up band the Clockwork Wizards to provide some extra entertainment. Who said romance was dead? Well Mrs. Phibes is, but the Dr. isn’t going to let that get in the way of showing her how much he cares, in this essential Valentine’s viewing that will melt the heart of even the hardest cynic. — Kat Ellinger

MEATBALL MACHINE (2005, Dir. Yudai Yamaguchi & Jun'ichi Yamamoto)

MEATBALL MACHINE (2005, Dir. Yudai Yamaguchi & Jun’ichi Yamamoto)

Have you ever loved somebody so much you’d battle a parasitic alien living inside of you and transforming your body into a cybernetic murder machine just to save them from the same fate? Meatball Machine may not sound like a tale of romance at first glance, considering its wholesome pairing of the words “Meatball” and “Machine” in its title, but love overcoming impossible odds and then exploding in a whimsical fountain of blood, bone, and meat bits is the true heart of this film.

Japanese director Yudai Yamaguchi (whose other credits include Battlefield Baseball and Chromartie High: The Movie, which I, fun fact, watched without subtitles), tells the story of a shy man who has loved a girl from afar for many months. They are finally united after he gets the shit kicked out of him whilst rescuing her from a group of violent jerks, and she patches him up at home where she confesses she’s been watching him too. Sadly, this is the moment where the dormant alien device they’ve accidentally picked up comes to life and violently transforms their fragile human bodies into battle-ready necroborgs. The story quickly turns into an insane, heart-breaking splatter-fest of love, loss, and guts, with effects by Tokyo Gore Police creator Yoshihiro Nishimura. — Madeleine Koestner 

BUG (2006, Dir. William Friedkin)

BUG (2006, Dir. William Friedkin)

A unnerving tale of psychological horror, Bug follows a fresh new relationship between Agnes (Ashley Judd) and Peter (Michael Shannon) as Agnes’s emotional investment in Peter grows, even though Peter is rapidly free-falling into his own madness. Wrapped in conspiracy theories and self-destructive behavior, Agnes and Peter express their love even more devotedly, becoming recluses with each other and ultimately are willing to sacrifice themselves for each other’s love. In a way, it’s one of the horror genre’s few excursions into unconditional love, and thanks to the brilliant writing of Tracy Lett’s and the patient voice of William Friedkin, it comes off effectively in all of its gruesome glory. — Jay Plainsafe

ANTICHRIST (2009, Dir. Lars von Trier)

ANTICHRIST (2009, Dir. Lars von Trier)

In this freaky art film from famed misanthrope Lars von Trier, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe go to a creepy cabin in an evil forest, where the forces of nature coerces genital mutilation, ominous speaking creatures, and hallucinatory eeriness. But Antichrist works as a Valentine’s must-see for two reasons: it’s a horror film in which the terror occurs between a couple making an active attempt to save their relationship, and it offers up its own feelings about relationships, in that the female figure is portrayed as the most evil and volatile of the sexes. In fact, as revelations are made about the nature of women, the film enters its most terrifying territory, and von Trier finally gives women their rightful place amongst the iconographic horror lexicon, next to wolfmen, vampires and poltergeists. — Amos Mortimer

MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D (2009, Dir. Patrick Lussier)

MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D (2009, Dir. Patrick Lussier)

A do-over of the 1981 slasher pic, My Bloody Valentine 3D is a shamelessly cheesy, gleefully bloody hoot. Clever in-your-face kills and gory shocks, as even an axe and body parts are flung at the camera  you’re in the front row of a crazy Gwar concert. The uninhibited Betsy Rue should earn some sort of scream-queen prize for courageously running around — for a whole five minutes — in her birthday suit until her “close-up.” — Jeremy Kibler

THE SINFUL DWARF (1973, Dir. Vidal Raski)

THE SINFUL DWARF (1973, Dir. Vidal Raski)

Nothing says “I love you” like a dwarf rapist. This absolutely vile piece of Danish cinema from the early 70s follows a newly wed couple as they set off on their married life together. They are broke and in love, and the only home they can find on short notice is in a dilapidated old flophouse. Little do they know, their housemate, a four foot tall dwarf named Olaf (played by an actor credited only as “Torben”), is running a sex ring out of the attic stocked with young girls abducted by the dwarf and then kept sedated on a steady supply of heroin. Olaf clearly derives an immense amount of pleasure from abducting and prostituting these girls, and also, via voyeurism. Olaf just loves to hide in the house and watch.

So, curl up with your loved one this February 14th and pop in this X-rated smut film, and then later that evening when the two of you are truly enjoying the holiday, think of Olaf. Behind the walls. Watching. — Madeleine Koestner 

Hammer Horror: The Warner Bros Years

About Madeleine Koestner

Madeleine Koestner is the former managing editor of Diabolique. She is a writer, filmmaker, and she plays the ukulele, performing songs as Erik Leafinson, a Viking past life of hers who was a major disappointment to his father, Leif Ericson. Madeleine has been involved with horror all over the country but is currently based in New York City, where she continues to not make any sense at all ever all the time.

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