To many people Valentines Day is a wonderful reminder of the love which they share with one and other, and the only day of the year in which it’s possible to glowingly gush without seeming like a worryingly overly enthusiastic human teddy bear. However, to many more it’s a day of crass consumerism – in which thousands of pounds are spent on sickly chocolates and flowers – and much worse, a bitter reminder of loneliness and the fact that yes, you’re still sitting around in your pants eating salty snacks and watching bad late-night TV.
For anyone who falls into the latter camp, here are 10 films for your consideration, all of which should give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside about being comfortably alone and far better off for it. Please also spend a moment of your day thinking of those less fortunate, who will spend tonight being forced to watch something written by Richard Curtis, or even worse, starring Mathew McConaughey.
The Fly (1986)
On first glance, David Croenberg’s The Fly seems like a simple horror story. It’s about a brilliant but obsessed scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) who is transformed into a grotesque creature that slowly consumes him. If you’re a fan of Croenberg’s work other however, you’ll know that there’s always something going on underneath the surface. The Fly certainly works as a icky and gruesome horror film, but it’s also an incredibly tragic and heartbreaking love story.
Croeneberg is well known for his own unique brand of body horror, with many of his films such as Videodrome and Scanners having an underlying focus on the fallible nature and weaknesses of the human body. In The Fly, Brundle’s transformation into the hideous Brundlefly is an allegory for disease and aging, showing the rapid nature of how someone as fit as Goldblum can become a weak shell of a man. He goes from being a brilliant and healthy boyfriend to Veronica (Geena Davis) to suddenly losing his mind and quickly falling apart – in this case quite literally. Therefore, The Fly can easily be seen as a bleak and brutally honest love story, wrapped up in a deceptively outlandish plot.
Why you’re better off single: If you fall deeply in love with someone, they’ll contract a hideous terminal illness and you’ll be forced to euthanize them. They won’t necessarily turn into a human fly or be forced to pickle genitalia, but you get the picture.
Sleeping With The Enemy (1991)
While there’s plenty of films starring Julia Roberts which were seemingly created purely for Valentines Day viewing (including the ghastly Valentine’s Day itself) she’s also starred in Sleeping With The Enemy, which is neither particularly funny or romantic. Instead, she stars as Laura Burney, a young woman engaged into an abusive and violent marriage with her obsessive compulsive husband Martin (Patrick Bergin).
The critically panned thriller charts her far-fetched attempt to escape the destructive relationship by faking her death and going on the run, but soon turns turns its provocative subject matter into a tacky and exploitative rehash of Fatal Attraction. Sadly the makers missed out on a trick by casting Richard Gear as the vicious husband, which would have made the film an amusingly bizarre double bill when paired with Pretty Woman or Runaway Bride.
Why you’re better off single: Relationships can often be led by violent, domineering and controlling individuals.
Revolutionary Road (2008)
After the classic love story narrative of Titanic, seeing Kate Winslet and Leo DiCapro reunited for Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road had many swooning at the potential for more heart-warming if tragic romance. Sadly, anyone expecting a similar film will be shocked to find that Revolutionary Road – based on the book by Richard Yates – is a harsh look at a relationship which is built on fleeting romance, rather than true love, and the inevitable breakdown which follows.
Set within the restrictive social confides of 1960’s suburbia, Revolutionary Road peels back the layers to highlight the self-imprisonment of a false relationship, which is continued simply to maintain an image of normality . It says a lot about the emotionally hard-hitting and bleak nature of the film, that Leonardo DiCaprio reputedly postponed his following film project for two months, due the production of Revolutionary Road being emotionally and physically draining.
Why you’re better off single: Relationships can trap you into a life that’s built out of guilt rather than love.
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Adrian Lynn’s steamy 1987 thriller is perhaps more of a warning against sexually promiscuous cheaters, but it’s still a fantastic Valentines Day watch for anyone who wants to celebrate the joys of not having to face the dangers of an unhinged jilted lover. Glenn Close is both oddly seductive as well as incredibly unnerving as Alex Forrest, a crazed stalker who hunts down the family of Michael Douglas’ cheeky sex pest Dan, after he leads her into bed for a fleeting one night stand.
Unfortunately for Dan, he picked the wrong woman to exploit. She soon reveals herself to be quite proficient with a knife, as well as having some unusual ideas for what to do with his pet rabbit. Much has been said about whether or not the film is misogynistic or alternatively feminist, but Fatal Attraction remains perfect Valentines Day viewing.
Why you’re better off single: Unless you want to find your household pet bubbling away in a stew, keep away from casual flings.
War of the Roses (1989)
It seems that in recent years, marriage has become a far less attractive prospect than perhaps it once was for many young couples. Whether it’s the fact that many partners feel happier merely expressing their love through simply being together, or that divorce is shoved in our faces every day thanks to celebrity gossip, many couples now shrug off the idea as old fashioned. Maybe they’ve simply had the pleasure of watching Danny DeVito’s War of the Roses, which sees Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner embroiled in a exaggerated and violent fight over the rights to their beautiful house during a messy divorce.
A thrilling and funny battle of the sexes, War of the Roses sees Douglas and Turner gloriously upping the ante in outlandish attempts to try and push their partner away – or even kill them – by upping the stakes as the film goes on. A sort of comedy alternative to Revolutionary Road, War of the Roses sets up the perfect marriage and smashes it apart. Pitch black and joyfully mean-spirited, it’s a perfect alternative to the hackneyed cheese of Valentines Day.
Why you’re better off single: Love leads to marriage and marriage leads to misery.
Audition is one of the most terrifying movies you’re likely to ever see. It’s also scary enough to put you off dating for the rest of your life, making it a great watch for anyone whose fed up of the luvy-duvy nature Valentines Day. Beginning innocently enough as a light-hearted, almost whimsical romance – in which a rich businessman holds auditions for his perfect girlfriend - you could be forgiven for believing that Audition was in fact a quaint romantic comedy.
It’s not until long into the half-way mark that Audition well and truly flies off the rails and becomes an unbearably unpleasant and nightmarish vision of the relationship from hell. To say much more would be a disservice to the unsettling power of Takashi Miike’s anti-romance classic, but Eihi Shiina gives Glenn Close a run for her money as another deeply unhinged and sadistic partner. Audition is unsettling enough to strike fear into the heart of any love seeking suitor.
Why you’re better off single: Your potential sweetheart may actually have a penchant for keeping men in burlap sacks and forcing them to eat vomit.
The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
Neil Simon’s largely forgotten classic is another cinematic portrayal of a relationship that’s doomed to fail and another reminder as to why being single isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. Charles Grodin stars as Lenny, a man whom has trouble committing to relationships and finds himself eventually hurrying into marriage with a seemingly perfect girl named Lila (Jeannie Berlin). Three days into their less-than ideallic honeymoon, and Lenny starts to see annoying traits and bad habits in his new wife, quickly driving him insane.
Remade in 2007 by the Farrelly Brothers , their cruder and more outrageous update turned Lila into even more of a grotesque caricature. Rather than the annoying but mostly innocent traits of the original you’ve got drug inflicted nasal leaking, and vaginal queefing (if you don’t know what that means, please DON’T look it up). The Heartbreak Kid shows why you shouldn’t ever jump too far into a relationship without testing the waters first.
Why you’re better off single: They might seem like the perfect partner, but wait until you hear them tucking into an egg sandwich or singing loudly in the car.
My Bloody Valentine (1981/2009)
If you’re feeling particularly bitter on Valentine’s Day, you could do no worse than checking out the 1981 slasher classic, My Bloody Valentine. Bleak and unremittingly unpleasant, the classic horror sees a small rural town becoming savaged by a gas mask wearing killer, brutally slaying anyone with the cheek to actually celebrate Valentines Day. The murky cinematography and dank coal mine settings make it a surprisingly effective and suspenseful stalk and slash relic from the glory days of the genre.
If you can’t get hold of the uncut edition of the original, there’s also the recent 3D remake, which while no where near as engagingly authentic, is perhaps a lot more fun. There’s a number of standout scenes which take 3D back to the idiotic days of Jaws 3D, with eyeballs and severed limbs being shoved out to the viewer with aplomb. There’s also a standout moment, with B-Movie icon Tom Atkins having his jaw yanked out by a pickaxe, all in glorious 3D.
Why you’re better off single: Celebrating love ? Pah ! You deserve a pick axe to the face.
Basic Instinct (1992)
Michael Douglas stars in another film which has him once again playing a sexual deviant. As his third appearance on this list, it clearly showcases a point in his career which was obviously influenced by his own personal demons. For some reason, this makes him something of a reassuring presence for those looking to see the darker side of love on Valentines Day. Pick pretty much any Douglas flick and you‘ve potentially got a warning against promiscuous or troublesome relationships.
This time he stars as Nick Curran, a hard edged detective whom is assigned to a brutal murder involving an ice pick. At the center of the investigation is the seductive and manipulative Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), whose own novels detail similar crimes inflicted with the same weapon of choice. It’s not long before Douglas can’t keep himself contained, and he finds himself sleeping with the main suspect while becoming deeply embroiled in further murders. With Sharon Stone’s icy-cold portrayal of Tramell and a whole heap of sumptuous sex scenes and gruesome murders, Basic Instinct is a noir like thriller with enough twists and turns to make it a great anti-valentines day watch.
Why you’re better off single: Never trust a seductress, she may be gearing up to stick an ice pick into your eye.
In the Realm of the Senses (1976)
In The Realm of the Senses (or Ai no Korīda, as it’s original title) is one of those strange films that’s full of kinky and graphic sex scenes, without actually being particularly sexy. You could then maybe call it a bit more honest than many explicit films, with the real sex scenes causing controversy on its original release and only recently coming to Blu-ray entirely uncut. However, it’s the fact that there’s very little love within Ai No Korida which makes it perfect alternative viewing for Valentines Day,
What it does offer is a graphic look at a self-destructive relationship between an inn keeper and his mistress, driven entirely by sadomasochistictic acts of violence against each other including self mutilation and strangulation. As their relationship becomes more destructive and dangerous, it culminates in one of cinemas most unbearably horrid castration sequences….. Happy Valentines Day !
Why you’re better off single: Relationships can lead to you losing your genitals, and no one wants that.
As a little extra treat for all you Valentines Day cynics, please enjoy this musical number from The Wedding Singer.