Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so in honor of the holiday, I thought we would explore Shudder’s Love Sick Collection.
Love comes in many different forms, and so do these horror films, which are often twisted, sometimes terrifying and almost always from the heart. It’s a somewhat small collection that includes on seven films, so let’s start breaking them down.
Black Sunday – Mario Bava’s directorial debut came with this 1960 Italian horror flick. When it was acquired for release in the United States, several of the violent and sexual scenes were censored, the dialogue was dubbed, and the musical score was switched out. The changes worked, and it had some success in the states. The iconic Barbara Steele starred as Asa Vajda, a witch in 1600s Moldavia. When Asa and her lover were put to death by her brother, she put a curse on him and his descendants. Two hundred years later, two men journeying through Moldavia accidently come across the witch’s tomb and inadvertently bring her back to life.
Possession – Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill star as Anna and Mark, a married couple. When Mark returns home from Berlin (where he was working as a spy), his wife tells him that she is seeing someone else and wants a divorce. Mark is crushed at this news, and tries to convince her to come back to him, but Anna is going through some serious emotional and mental health issues. This is an exceptionally intense film, and it took a toll on both Adjani and Neill. Adjani said it took her years to get over the trauma of her performance, and Neill claimed that “I think I only just escaped that film with my sanity barely intact.”
Spring – “Evan is a young American fleeing to Europe to escape his past. While backpacking along the Italian coast, everything changes during a stop at an idyllic village, where he meets and instantly connects with the enchanting and mysterious Louise.” But Louise is harboring some pretty significant secrets.
Nekromantik – Hoo boy, this one is hard to recommend. It’s definitely not for everyone (and by “everyone”, I mean me…I tried to watch it when it was featured on Joe Bob’s Vicious Valentine special in February of 2023). The plotline revolves around a couple who have a sexual fetish for corpses. Robert is part of a clean up crew that tidies up after horrific accidents, and likes to surprise his wife Betty with stolen body parts. One day, he brings home an entire decaying corpse, and he and Betty utilize the boy while having relations. You get the gist.
The Last Thing Mary Saw – In sharp contrast to Nekromatik, this is a more artsy type film, set in 1843 New York. When we first meet Mary (Stefanie Scott), she is being interrogated about the death of her grandmother. She has a cloth tied around her eyes, and blood seeps down from beneath the blindfold. We are then presented with Mary’s story, which involves her romantic relationship with the family maid, Eleanor (played by Orphan’s Isabelle Fuhrman). Religious themes, the appearance of a dangerous man (Rory Culkin), and extreme measures taken to stop the romance all culminate in a horrifying finale.
Habit – Sam recently lost his girlfriend and his father, which has put him on a self-destructive streak. When he meets Anna at a Halloween party, he thinks his problems are over, and the two indulge in kinky sex. Soon after meeting Anna, Sam starts to think she is a vampire.
Dogs Don’t Wear Pants – Juha is still heavily grieving seven years after his wife’s death, and has even pulled away from his teenage daughter Elli. When he meets a dominatrix named Mona, he discovers that he enjoys BDSM, especially being asphyxiated. As the rest of his life spins out of control, he continues to see Mona, becoming more and more obsessed with the hallucinations he has when being strangled by her.
That should give our readers plenty of unconventional choices for Valentine’s Day viewing. Not a Shudder subscriber? You can remedy that by hopping on their website, where new subscribers can receive a free seven-day trial membership.