Fright Night  (d. & w. Tom Holland)
Opening with a moment of fumbling teen sex, Tom Holland’s 80s vampire classic is an excellent combination of glam ghouls and tender coming of age. Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) is a straight laced horror geek, tuning in to classic pictures hosted by ancient shock jock Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowell) in-between make out sessions with his girlfriend, Amy (Amy Peterson). But when his handsome next-door neighbor (Chris Sarandron) turns out to be a seductive bloodsucker, the movie transforms into a palpable portrait of lust run amok. Tom Holland taps into the inherent horniness that blooms in high school, and has his big bad preys on that need to get laid. Funny, weird, sexy and genuinely scary, Fright Night is the complete package, perfect for revisiting or, better yet, a first time viewing with your black clad Mr/Mrs.
Cat People  (d. Paul Schrader, w. Alan Ormsby)
Paul Schrader’s remake of the RKO classic replaces stark, black-and-white ambiance with glowing, primal sexuality. Slick and idiosyncratic, the movie drips with an almost lecherous lust, leering at Nastassja Kinski’s shapeshifter as she discovers the quite literal beast that burns in her loins. Worse yet is Malcolm McDowell as her brother, wanting to possess the girl and have her as his own. It’s a twisted, incestuous game, sleek and jet-black as the leopard Kinski’s character transforms into. Punctuated with a David Bowie title track (that Tarantino would later borrow for Inglourious Basterds), this is New Wave cocaine fueled love-making at its finest, alternately repulsive and arousing. Best double featured with American Gigolo and a bottle of red wine.
Videodrome  (d. & w. David Cronenberg)
The obvious choice from Cronenberg’s canon for two lovebirds to snuggle up to is The Fly, as it is not only the director’s most accessible commercial hit, but also resonates with a kind of day-glo Gothic romance that (almost) offsets the ickiness of its body horror. But if you and your sweetie are a bit freakier (and into some pain and piercing), Videodrome is undoubtedly the twisted date movie for you. From the moment Max Renn (James Woods) slides that giant needle through the soft earlobe of Nicki Brand (Debbie Harry), the kink takes center stage. There’s a droning, perverse sexuality to the proceedings of Videodrome that is certainly titillating, even as Renn grows a vagina in his belly and begins to blast cancer bullets at Barry Convex (Les Carlson). Yet in the end, it’s Nicki’s voice that beckons him toward the New Flesh, leaving the two to celebrate the death of a mind controlling cathode ray together in oblivion. Romanticism in nihilistic new media hatred.
Sightseers  (d. Ben Wheatley, w. Alice Lowe, Steve Oram & Amy Jump)
There’s something incredibly sweet about Ben Wheatly’s twisted tale of two star-crossed psychos (Steve Oram and Alice Lowe) who take a homicidal caravan trip through the English hill country. Litterbugs, feral youths and National Trust snobs beware – true love has a twinkle of murder in its eye, as the couple find that they were made for each other as they attempt to butcher the world. Wheatley’s road picture is brisk and funny, but best of all it captures the indelible feeling that sometimes two folks are just meant to be with each other, even if that means they bond over a pile of dead bodies. This is a near perfect pitch black comedy, complete with a great big beating heart; a rare commodity in horror cinema.
Wild at Heart  (d. & w. David Lynch)
“This whole world’s wild at heart and weird on top.” Lynch’s dark, romantic journey through the heart of America is nothing short of a rock and roll revelation, complete with one of the greatest screen couples of all time. As Sailor (Nic Cage) and Lula (Laura Dern) tear through the desert, encountering a plethora of freaks and geeks, they’re pursued by hitmen (including the one and only Harry Dean Stanton) all hired by Lula’s demonic wicked witch of a mother (a positively possessed Diane Ladd). Deliriously goofy, gory and, by the end, truly moving, Wild at Heart is Lynch let loose off the Network TV chain. And, if we’re being completely honest, you and your significant other truly haven’t lived until you’ve basked in the glow of Nic Cage crooning Elvis’ “Love Me Tender” while donning a snakeskin jacket (the only true symbol of individuality and belief personal freedom).
Pretty Maids All in a Row  (d. Roger Vadim, w. Gene Roddenberry)
Easily one of the kinkiest mainstream Hollywood pictures ever made, the American debut of Roger Vadim (…and God Created Woman) is slathered in overt sexuality, playing out like one of the most twisted coming of age tales ever told. Featuring Rock Hudson as a leathery lothario who passes down sex tips once he’s done coaching the football team, and Angie Dickinson as the ultimate sexy substitute teacher, the string of murders plaguing the fictional California high school setting almost seem like an afterthought. But when you cast a lollipop sucking Telly Savalas as the hot on the case murder detective, the whole movie takes on a meta-textual vibe that’s vastly ahead of its time. This is American Pie for perverts, peppered with upskirt shots and laced with a slasher film through line that only occasionally seems out of place. Best viewed with partners with a fetish for nubile teen girls from the 70s or Star Trek completists.
Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (a/k/a Night Warning)  (d. William Asher, w. Alan Jay Glueckman & Boon Collins)
Many relationships have been hindered by an overbearing parental figure. Only one has ever been threatened by a knife wielding Susan Tyrell (Forbidden Zone). Her psycho Aunt Cheryl is one of the most undervalued screen villains in all of horror history, and watching her spiral into complete psychosexual insanity is astonishing. All poor Billy (Jimmy McNichol) and his girlfriend Julia (Julia Duffy) want to do is be happy together, but between Cheryl’s incessant pining for the boy and a homophobic detective (Bo Svenson, in perhaps his greatest role) tracking her murderous trail, it’s impossible for the two to have a moment’s piece. Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker is one of the more incredible seldom seen gems of all time, pulsating with raw sex and chilling violence. Seek it out immediately.
Vampire’s Kiss  (d. Robert Bierman, w. Joseph Minion)
Playing like a completely batshit precursor to American Psycho, Nic Cage unleashes one of his most definitive pieces of “mega acting” (look it up) upon the world, bugging his eyes and jumping on desks as ghoulish publishing executive Peter Loew. Cage is unhinged here in a way he might’ve never topped for the rest of his career (yes, I’m even counting LaBute’s horrid Wicker Man remake). Loew is a complete goon, thinking a lascivious encounter with a possible neck biter has transformed him into the titular creature of the night. But what’s really going on is a similar psychosis that yuppie icon Patrick Bateman suffered. Reality and delusion become intertwined, as Peter slips into oblivion, allowing Cage to lather on the crazy nice and thick. If your sweetie’s got a bit of an ironic funny bone, they’re bound to love this, but I’d argue it’s a great movie even if viewed with complete sincerity.
Trouble Every Day  (d. Claire Denis, w. Claire Denis & Jean-Pol Fargeau)
The New French Extremity is as transgressive a movement as there ever was in horror, as the French began to mine new depths of depravity in the early 2000s. Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day laid the groundwork for filmmakers like Marina de Van (In My Skin), Alexandre Aja (Haute Tension) and Maury & Bustillo (À l’intérieur, aka Inside). But before the Extremity toppled completely into genre trappings, Denis delivered a jazzy, lyrical bit of sexiness. There’s a floating, naturalistic pace to Trouble Every Day that represents a filmmaker fascinated by horror as merely a vessel on which to imprint her own fluid filmic fingerprint. Tindersticks’ score skips like a record, punctuating moments of graphic violence that rattle the viewer. Vincent Gallo is debatably the genre’s most depressed protagonist; a human experiment drifting through life with an unshakable weight on his shoulders. He’s a walking atrocity in a world filled with them, ready to self-destruct in the midst of his beautiful new wife (Tricia Vessey). Trouble Every Day is for the couple that considers themselves art house aficionados just as easily as they do VHS rack nightmare seekers.
Cemetery Man  (d. Michele Soavi, w. Gianni Romoli)
Italian horror has always been sexy. From Bava to Pasolini to even the country’s grossest exploitation freak-outs (I’m looking at you Farewell Uncle Tom), there’s an aura of sex that hangs over much of the country’s cinematic proceedings. But none are as hauntingly beautiful and hilarious as Argento protégé Michele Soavi’s tongue in cheek zombie romance Cemetery Man (a/k/a Dellamorte Dellamore). Hanging somewhere between Gothic eroticism and comic book gore fest, Soavi captures an almost cartoonish amorousness that begins with Rupert Everett’s rippling muscles and ends with Ana Falchi’s voluptuous form. This is splattery, sexed-up insanity fit for kings and queens of genre heaven.
Beauty and the Beast  (d. & w. Jean Cocteau)
Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête is a rich, sumptuous fantasy, brimming with beautiful set design and ghostly cinematography while simultaneously acting as a striking comment on class and human behavior. This is a storybook for adults, lulling you into a trance as you attempt to pick apart the picture’s heady nuances, all while becoming engulfed by its undeniable sense of ethereal loveliness. While certainly not a horror film in the strictest sense (or at all, really), it still contains enough genre touches to tickle the fancy of even the most finicky fright film fan. This is a movie for those interested in the treasures film history holds and for those curious in digging deep.
The Duke of Burgundy  (d. & w. Peter Strickland)
An S&M rendition of Scenes From a Marriage, Peter Strickland’s third feature is a masterwork of surrealist erotica. As the narrative unfolds in what almost feels like a series of elliptical vignettes, watching the power shift back and forth between a stern domme (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and her coy, sly submissive (Chiara D’Anna) becomes as breathtaking as it is arousing. But the real treat is how deeply felt Strickland’s narrative becomes; the true commitment between the two role-players blossoming into a beautiful, sincere romance. Best of all – there’s not a male character in sight, adding another unique layer to the director’s immaculately designed tableau of debauchery. You and your significant other will never think of a “human toilet” the same way again.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula  (d. Francis Ford Coppola, w. James V. Hart)
Baroque, overblown, completely ridiculous; these are just a few of the descriptors you could use to depict Francis Ford Coppola’s direct, yet experimental adaptation of Bram Stoker’s seminal vampire novel. However, where Stoker’s text was an ode to xenophobia, Coppola’s is a tone poem dedicated to fucking, scrawled in blood by candlelight. There’s something completely intoxicating about the director’s commitment to classical filmic form, right down to the FW Murnau callbacks. His is a film that cares not at all for the tenants of realism, opting instead to dive headfirst into a fever dream of carnal cinema. In the end, you either hold hands and give in to the movie’s unrelenting, garish get up, or you reject it outright, preferring pale imitators of both the literary and cinematic maestros’ malevolent works of horror.
Picnic at Hanging Rock  (d. Peter Weir, w. Cliff Green)
“To Saint Valentine!” Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock is an ethereal delight, chronicling the ways in which we are, as human beings, diminutive in the shadow of existence. An exercise in looming existential dread, a wash of ambiance is what this movie provides, creating a drowning tidal wave of unease and never offering a hint of catharsis. But Weir’s film also acts as a celebration of love; love in the face of power structures, love in the face of death, love simply as a means to add meaning to human beings’ time on the planet. That alone makes it an ideal choice for any set of love birds, as they will see the movie’s spectral swan for what it truly represents: a simple spirit surviving the unexplainable.
Nekromantik  (d. Jörg Buttgereit, w. Jörg Buttgereit & Franz Rodenkirchen)
You want some true kink at the end of the night? Try fucking a dead guy. Jörg Buttgereit’s landmark slice of necrophilia porn is only for those who can stomach (or, *gasp*, enjoy the thought of) strapping a dirty dildo onto a corpse and taking it for a ride. Scored with an ear for German Springsteen piano ballads (the main theme is one of the all time great pieces of movie music), Nekromantik is seventy-five minutes of tonal dissonance, alternately nihilistic and sexually playful in equal measure. Recommended only for those who know their partner’s true cinematic limits, you can learn a lot about the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with by measuring their reaction to Buttgereit’s insane cinematic distillation of a mortician’s spank bank.