This winter brings a new film about lovers from different worlds to warm your heart...and no, we’re not talking about Netflix’s charming-but-predictable A Christmas Prince. It’s The Shape Of Water that is the surprisingly romantic addition to the December release schedule, a monster movie with a twist.
Set during the cold war, The Shape Of Water centers on a mute cleaning lady in a government facility, and the "asset" that has been trapped there. Slowly, Elisa forges a connection with this underwater creature, eventually risking her own life in order to save it. Part period drama, part romance, part thriller, The Shape Of Water is like no monster movie that has come before. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro, this beautiful fairy tale has already won critical acclaim on the film festival circuit, and it sure to do well theatrically.
However, this isn’t the first time that the monsters of the movie have played the romantic lead. Since Dracula first charmed his victims, cinema has enjoyed humanizing the things that go bump in the night, and reminds us that love isn’t limited by physical appearances.
Obviously, Dracula himself is the best known of the romantic vampires, but he is far from the only blood-sucker to get cast as the leading man over the years. The Count himself has appeared in a slew of films over the years, usually as the dashing and mysterious man who seduces young women to his shady castle. But there’s something about vampires in general that makes them romantic—perhaps it is the sweeping cape, the porcelain skin, or simply the right amount of danger and mystery that hangs about them. Dracula aside, we’ve seen everything from the brooding love-interests of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the equally broody protagonist of the Twilight series or even the multiple broody-sexy vamps of Interview With A Vampire.
Zombies: The Corpse Bride
Zombies might not feel like the most romantic choice, even though they have at least one similarity to vampires—they definitely aren’t living! Of course, while vamps are sophisticated, articulate, beautiful creatures, zombies are rotting corpses, mindlessly shambling along. Not usually the most appealing as a love-interest! However, there are a few examples of the lovely undead in modern movies. Warm Bodies turned the zombie genre on its head as a zom-com where the zombies can be returned to life by the power of love. The Corpse Bride also plays on the undead theme, although it’s not necessarily a zombie movie in the traditional sense. This animated adventure tells the story of a murdered bride, risen from the dead and out for a new husband.
Ghosts are another movie monster that lend themselves to a little romance. Stories of the living being reunited with the spirits of those that they loved are naturally heartwarming, albeit bittersweet, and even if some ghosts are vengeful, deadly spirits, others are as warm and loving as a shade can be. One of the most famous ghosts is, of course, in Ghost, the ‘90s romance classic where a ghost helps his girlfriend solve a mystery and deal with grief… and who could forget that scene at the potter’s wheel? But there are other romantic ghosts in cinematic history. From Casper, the young boy who wanted nothing more than to be with the pretty girl who moved into his haunted mansion, to rom coms including Just Like Heaven, where a man falls in love with the ghost of the woman who used to live in his apartment.
Giant Monsters: King Kong
Kaiju might not be the first genre that you think of when considering romantic monsters, but if King Kong can be considered Kaiju (which is debatable), this giant ape is one of the most romantic creatures on the big screen. No matter the adaptation, or the actress that plays her, there is always a blonde in love with the ape as much as the ape is in love with her! A doomed love story as Kong tears his way around a city that he should never be in, this romance is so iconic that it has been referenced in dozens of TV shows as well, from How I Met Your Mother to The Flash.
Hairy Beasts: Prince Adam
This is a monster so very romantic that most won’t even think of him as monstrous anymore, but the titular beast from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (whether animated or live action) starts out as monstrous as they come. Even the cursed prince himself sees a horrible beast in the mirror, and the townspeople are so terrified at the sight of him that they intend to burn down his very castle and kill him! However, Prince Adam is (as we all know), the epitome of the romantic lead, despite his shaggy paws and curving horns. In the presence of Belle, he blooms, and becomes the handsome prince that would never look out of place on the cover of a romantic comedy.
And Finally: Death Himself
If there is one monster greater than all others, it is the spectre of Death himself. This may not be the kind of monster who lurks under the bed of frightened children, who chases idiotic teens until they inevitably trip and fall, or who terrorizes a town under the cover of night. However, this is the monster that monsters fear—the thing that monsters symbolize. And in Meet Joe Black, this ultimate fear was given a beautiful face, and fell in love, eventually learning that thing that so many of the best romantic monsters do: that true love means sacrifice.
What is your favorite romantic monster? Comment and let us know!