I haven't read Twilight, but a friend who has described it as chapter upon chapter of Kristen Stewart's character swooning over Robert Pattinson's youthful 108-year old vampire. Males the world over are running for the hills -- but maybe they shouldn't. After all, the horror-romance has a long and venerable history. The juxtaposition makes sense: just like clowns can become scary with just a small tweak in their make-up, love stories can turn into horror stories by edging just slightly toward the sinister. I have some hope that Twilight might be creepy rather than gooey; we'll see soon enough. In the meantime, here are a few examples of films that have done a nice job with the horror-romance combination.

1. The Fly (1986) - I actually think that Cronenberg's take on The Fly is the scariest movie I've ever seen, albeit for reasons having little to do with the romance between Jeff Goldblum's Seth Brundle and Geena Davis's Veronica. (I'm generally freaked out by genetic weirdness.) But the film gets much of its poignancy from their relationship, which both sets things in motion and brings them to a close. Consider that Brundle tries his invention on himself out of jealousy, imagining an infidelity that didn't exist. And Veronica's final heartbreaking gesture is one of both pity and love.

2. Dracula (1992) - This version does the best job with the "romantic" aspect of the story, I think -- Coppola really makes it all about Dracula's obsession, as he waits centuries for his beloved to live again. His implacable drive to be with her is what makes the film scary, and Gary Oldman's titular performance is what makes it kind of sad.

3. Let the Right One In - This is a tricky one, and maybe the most interesting specimen on this list, since the tender little love story at the film's center is also remarkably disturbing if you give it some thought. Why are Oskar and Eli drawn to each other? Are they kindred spirits? The movie ends on a purportedly upbeat note, but what will happen next?

4. King Kong (2005) - I list the Peter Jackson version here not because it's better than the 1933 classic (though it may well be), but because it improves on one crucial aspect of that film. Whereas King Kong's relationship with Fay Ray's Ann Darrow was like that of rapist and victim, Naomi Watts's Ann understands Kong, and even returns his desparate affection. The last hour of the movie becomes ridiculously affecting; I may or may not have cried.

5. Haute Tension - A.k.a. what Alexandre Aja was doing before he began making crap like Mirrors. One English-language title for Haute Tension was Switchblade Romance, but the romance part doesn't become apparent until the end of the film, and so is hard to discuss without giving away the game. It's pretty creepy, even though it comes packaged with a plot twist that seems to be everywhere these days.

6. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - This doesn't need much introduction, since some people consider it (or at least the play it's based on) to be, like, humanity's greatest artistic triumph or something. What's a romance if you can't bake people into pies with the one you love, I always say.

7. Alien vs. Predator - Oh come on -- you know that Sanaa Lathaan was this close to planting a big kiss on that sympathetic Predator at the end, before going down that enormous slide, or whatever. Or maybe vice versa. Either way, it was sweet.

(Rejected gag entry: Made of Honor)



Twilight' Photos

    EXCLUSIVE: Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen

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    EXCLUSIVE: Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen

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    The cast of 'Twilight'

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    Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen

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    Cam Gigandet as James, Edi Gathegi as Laurent and Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria

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    Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen

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    Nikki Reed as Rosalie Hale

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    Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen and Cam Gigandet as James

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    Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen

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    Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen

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