Love Hurts: Horror’s Hottest Couples

For Valentine’s Day, the filmmaker behind ALONE WITH YOU counts down the genre’s steamiest, most sanguineous pairings.

By Emily Bennett · @emilyrbennett · February 14, 2024, 10:00 AM EST

Valentine’s Day is one horrifying holiday, its origins rooted in romance, love, and blood – a combination irresistible to lovers of horror.

Not only does February 14th usher in terrifyingly high romantic expectations, it also celebrates the bloody execution of at least three saints in history, all named Valentine. The most widely known of these is a saint named St. Valentine of Terni, who lived in Italy in the 3rd century AD.

Back then, Rome was ruled by Emperor Claudius II (aka Claudius the Cruel) who banned all marriage in his kingdom, in an effort to increase the amount of unattached men willing to die for his military campaigns. Defying Claudius’ orders, St. Valentine held secret wedding ceremonies for Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. The guy loved a good wedding.

However, Claudius wasn’t amused and quickly threw Valentine in prison. It was there that St. Valentine miraculously restored the eyesight of his jailer’s blind daughter, briefly gaining himself some allies within the prison. Enraged at this, Claudius immediately ordered his execution.

According to legend, before being beheaded in the town square, Valentine wrote a note to the jailer’s daughter and signed the letter “Your Valentine.” I’m not exactly sure how this pre-execution goodbye letter morphed into an overly commercialized holiday full of roses, boxes of chocolate, and unbridled romance, but here we are.

So, given its bloody history, it's only fitting that horror fans take back this twisted holiday and celebrate its dark origins on our terms. In this spirit, I’d like to dive into my list of hottest couples in horror cinema, who remind us that eroticism and terror often go hand in bloody hand.

John and Laura Baxter, Don’t Look Now (1973)


One of the great horror films to emerge from the 1970s is the psychological horror mystery Don’t Look Now. Adapted from the 1971 short story by Daphne du Maurier, this Nicolas Roeg-directed classic examines the troubled marriage between characters played by Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland after the tragic death of their daughter. Steeped in romance and experimental editing techniques, this film also boasts one of the hottest sex scenes in horror history.

So hot, in fact, that the controversy about it persists to this day. The steamiest scene shows the grieving but impassioned couple making love and, because it appeared to be so realistic, many thought the scene was unsimulated. The MPAA demanded changes in the final edit to eventually issue an R rating, but the BBFC ultimately awarded the film an adults-only X certificate.

Even Christie’s then-boyfriend Warren Beatty wasn’t convinced the sex was fake, and allegedly flew around the world in an attempt to prevent the film from getting distributed. Regardless of the controversy, the film remains a horror classic and a beautiful example of erotic intimacy between a married couple that we don’t often see on screen.

Ganja Meda and Dr. Hess Green, Ganja & Hess (1973)


Written and directed by Bill Gunn, this once-lost Blaxploitation vampire film is now a staple in classic horror cinema. Starring the gorgeous Marlene Clark and the stoic yet troubled Duane Jones (also the star of Night of the Living Dead) this film meditates on themes of faith, eroticism and vampirism as a metaphor for the complexities of the Black experience in America.

Defying traditional linear structure, this film bounces between various time periods and uses experimental editing techniques that evoke a hallucinatory, dreamlike experience. A good portion of the film is devoted to love scenes between the two main characters, who are bathed in soft light and sometimes gorgeously drenched in blood.

These lithe, writhing lovers are, in a word, stunning to behold. The onscreen chemistry is palpable and feels grounded, layered, and alive. If you haven’t seen it, seek this seminal vampire film out immediately.

Anna and The Creature, Possession (1981)


Despite its classification as a “video nasty” which greatly impeded its initial distribution, Andrzej Żulawski’s fever dream has thankfully found a resurgence in recent years. Though the always delightful Sam Neill stars, he’s not a part of the couple I want to discuss in this film.

Anna (played by the gloriously unhinged Isabelle Adjani) and the creature get my vote for hottest couple in Possession. After the film explores the crumbling marriage between Mark (Neill) and Anna (Adjani), it shifts the narrative towards Anna’s bizarre tentacled lover whom she keeps in a run-down apartment in West Berlin.

Mark goes to the apartment and discovers Anna in a state of unbridled ecstasy as she has sex with the tentacled creature. Her screams echo throughout the derelict building as she writhes beneath the creature in a scene I can best describe as a moonlit version of the classic Hokusai painting “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife.”

Her ecstasy is so great, it causes Mark to further unravel until he and his wife eventually meet a bloody end together. But this haunting scene between Anna and the creature remains the most subversive, shocking, and erotic part of Possession. Few scenes have equally intrigued and repulsed me, which makes this odd couple my favorite in the film.

Max Renn and Nicki Brand, Videodrome (1983)


Written and directed by body horror king David Cronenberg, the psychosexual fever dream Videodrome lives rent-free in my brain. And that’s a good thing.

Starring the subversive James Woods as Max Renn and the luminous Debby Harry as Nicki Brand, these two begin a sadomasochistic affair inspired by the snuff show Max has recently discovered at his television job. The two seem like a match made in purgatory until Nicki decides she’s going to audition for the Pittsburgh-based snuff show herself.

When Max discourages her, saying she can’t handle that level of sadism, she proves him wrong by burning her breast with a cigarette. Nicki disappears, only to reappear on Max’s TV screen in one of the most memorable horror scenes in history.

Speaking from inside an undulating TV set, Nicki purrs “Come to Nicki. Don’t keep me waiting,” and Max leans headfirst into her lips that fill the swelling screen. The effect, though relatively simple in execution, remains one of the most erotic and iconic images in horror history. All hail our kinky king Cronenberg.

Miriam Blaylock and Dr. Sarah Roberts, The Hunger (1983)


Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon positively light this film on fire with their elegant passion and undeniable chemistry. This stylish music video-esque film directed by Tony Scott remains one of my favorite vampire films of the ‘80s.

The eternal vampire Miriam Blaylock is going to lose her lover John (David Bowie) to the ravages of time, and she’s on the hunt for someone new. After meeting the rapidly aging John in her lab, the studious gerontologist Dr. Sarah Roberts travels to Miriam’s grand home to ask about John’s well-being. Miriam immediately seduces Sarah who, surprised but intrigued, responds immediately.

The two initiate a beautifully shot love scene, during which Miriam bites Sarah’s arm and injects some of her blood into Sarah’s body. Vampires always make the hottest couples, don’t they? But after Miriam fights to bring Sarah into her vampiric world, her plans backfire.

The combination of blood and sex doesn’t always work in horror films but Tony Scott finds a beautiful balance of eroticism and romantic tragedy. And though they couldn’t remain together for eternity, the gorgeously shot love scene between Miriam and Sarah lives on forever in horror history.

Jesse Walsh and Ron Grady, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)


While they’re not officially together in this infamous slasher sequel, Jesse and Ron are absolutely the hottest couple on screen in the film. Directed by Jack Sholder and starring Mark Patton and Robert Rusler as Jesse and Ron respectively, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 was once derisively called “the gayest horror movie ever made.” Me? I’m here for it.

After new kid in school Jesse gets into a fight in gym class, during which his pants fall down and his bare ass is on full display, he and his nemesis Ron quickly bond over punitive pushups after school. As he navigates his Freddy-based nightmares and his confusing affections for his classmate Lisa, Jesse finds himself inexplicably drawn into bizarre and coded situations in locations such as a leather bar, the boys’ locker room shower and eventually Ron’s bedroom.

It’s in this bedroom that Jesse begs for Ron’s help, screaming, “Something is trying to get inside my body!” Ron quickly replies, “Yeah, and she’s female and she’s waiting for you in the cabana and you want to sleep with me.” Bingo.

In the midst of endless waking nightmares and seismic hormonal shifts, Jesse runs to the arms of his true love to find answers. Sadly, like every great love story, this one ends in tragedy after Jesse (possessed by Krueger) slaughters Ron, but I still consider them the sweetest, sweatiest star-crossed couple in Freddy’s Revenge.

Frank and Julia, Hellraiser (1987)


I’m not sure there’s ever been a writer who has so brilliantly combined the subversive and the sublime, the bloody and the beautiful, or the erotic and the demonic than the master himself Clive Barker. This man literally wrote the book on pleasure and pain for horror audiences, and first captured the film world’s attention with the masterpiece that is Hellraiser.

The film, aside from being a plunge into the depths and depravities of hell itself, is, at its core, a dark love story. Centered around the clandestine love affair between Frank and his sister-in-law Julia Cotton, this couple redefined the lengths that people will go to in the name of love.

Not even when Frank is a decaying, rotting, reanimated corpse does Julia lose her lust for him. She makes it her full-time job to lure unsuspecting men back to her new home for Frank to slaughter and feed upon.

Few of us can live up to commitment like this, but perhaps this erotic, necrotic passion can inspire us all to make this Valentine’s Day a little more naughty and fun.

The Entire Damn Main Cast, Suitable Flesh (2023)


A new addition to the legacy of H.P. Lovecraft and Stuart Gordon is the savage, sexy, saxophone-filled sensation that is Joe Lynch’s new erotic horror film Suitable Flesh. Penned by Gordon’s longtime collaborator Dennis Paoli, Suitable Flesh showcases some savagely sexy set pieces that have to be seen to be believed.

Now streaming on Shudder, Lynch’s film turns up the heat with not just one horror couple, but what Lynch calls, “a Lovecraft triangle.” Hot, right? Producer and star (and all-around goddess) Barbara Crampton joins a cast that includes the gorgeous Heather Graham, hunky Johnathon Schaech, and the charisma-wielding rising star Judah Lewis.

These actors let loose in the Miskatonic-verse, unleashing levels of eroticism once celebrated in films like Basic Instinct and Body Heat. And I’m going to be greedy here and mention my favorite kiss in the film. It’s not between Graham and the boys. Oh no. My favorite kinky kiss is reserved for the lip-lock between Graham and Crampton.

But watch the film and decide on the best Lovecraftian love affair for yourself. Suitable Flesh is a dizzying sexual nightmare that hopefully signals a new era of eroticism in horror films.

That is my list, but honorable mention must be made of Interview with the Vampire (1994), Trouble Every Day (2001), Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (2019), Habit (1995), Thirst (2009), Thelma (2017), Jakob’s Wife (2021), Black Swan (2010), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), The Shape of Water (2017), Infinity Pool (2023), and X (2022).

So take heart, my fellow horror fans. Though it’s no Halloween, I think we can all reclaim Valentine’s Day and celebrate this sexy, dark holiday on our own terrifying terms.

And if you have any issues with my list above, go easy on me. Valentine’s Day just so happens to be my birthday. So send me some love on your socials if you’re so inclined, and share your favorite hot horror movie couples with me! After all, I’m always on the lookout for my next vicious Valentine.

Forever Yours,

Emily Bennett

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