The couple that watches horror together stays together...
...This Valentine’s Day, snuggle up with your special someone and enjoy this lineup of monster make-out sessions and terrifying tongue-twisters.
Here are my personal top five picks for horror film kisses, in no particular order:
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
If my ex-boyfriend can call his sloppy, drooling tongue-dance a “kiss,” then I can consider this Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street scene a favorite scary smooch.
Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is known for a twisted sense of humor in his unstoppable quest to torment horny teenagers. Sleep-deprived Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) answers the ringing landline in her bedroom. At first, what looks like a normal corded phone suddenly transforms into a flesh-covered “mouth.” The audience hears Freddy’s voice on the other end of the phone, cackling while the tongue attempts to invade Nancy’s mouth. Nancy flings the phone onto the floor and runs out of the room, screaming.
I should have done the same.
I enjoyed Tate Taylor’s Ma. The true terror of the film is that Ma could be anyone you know--she probably is someone you know. Ma (Octavia Spencer) morphs high school awkwardness, disappointment, and embarrassment into a furious adult woman hellbent on revenge against the popular prom kings and queens.
Teenage victim Andy (Corey Fogelmanis) has been drugged and placed in a chain collar in Ma’s basement. He isn’t physically forced to kiss Ma, but the drugs are doing their work.
While there isn’t anything inherently scary about the kiss, the act is several dimensions of disturbing with context.
Beyond the influence of sedatives, Andy appears that he genuinely wants to kiss Ma. She’s given him a place to go and accepted him during one of the most difficult periods in a high school student’s life. Ma showed Andy attention and kindness when his father (Luke Evans) neglected him to pursue business endeavors and spend time with a high school sweetheart. Ma fulfilled a maternal role ripped open by the passing of Andy’s mother.
Andy tells Ma he loves her. It’s evident that he does, in a misguided way. Andy kisses Ma to convey his feelings. The kiss is cringe-inducing on the grounds alone that Andy is presumably a teenager, and Ma is an unrelenting psychopath.
Army of Darkness (1992)
You’re the beautiful virgin maiden Sheila (Embeth Davidtz) enjoying life in medieval England. One day, an army of the dead (one might say, an Army of Darkness...) threatens to end life as you know it. The castle’s soldiers are no match for the skeletons and ghouls invading the land. There is no hope on the horizon.
But, what’s that? A man with a chainsaw for a hand falls from the sky. He’s a warrior with a powerful cleft chin and hair as mesmerizing as Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
Ash (Bruce Campbell) returns for the third installment of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy to save the day. But not before he grabs Sheila and plants a hero’s kiss on her.
The scene isn’t flashy.
There is no gore, no special effects, no surprises. It’s 100% corny Bruce Campbell being corny Bruce Campbell--over the top and melodramatic.
Give me some Sugar, Baby.
Alien: Covenant (2017)
I love Michael Fassbender.
What’s better than Michael Fassbender? Two Fassbenders.
As an Alien fanatic, I was a little disappointed by Ridley Scott’s follow ups Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Criticism aside, there is a gem worth remembering. If you take anything away from the film, take away the moment shared between David and Walter.
David (Michael Fassbender) was the original android sent with the expedition crew in Prometheus. In the scene, David plays a wooden flute alone in dim light over the image of a departed companion. Walter (Michael Fassbender), the newer model of David, walks into the room with apprehension.
As much apprehension as an android can have.
The difference between the two androids of the same face is apparent in mannerisms, speech, and looks. David’s hair is messy, and his face is tired. Walter is more polished, his hair neat and sleeked back. Walter was an “improvement” upon David, designed by their creator (Guy Pierce) to better serve human beings. David, while less of a caretaker, is more like human beings. He’s angry, defiant, and he doesn’t want to serve a “dying breed.” David dreams and cries. He professes his love for Walter and kisses him. Walter doesn’t move, but David’s kiss is a genuine profession of affection and regret, at least in that fleeting moment.
The scene is important because it explores David’s feelings toward humanity and toward himself (and his other half, Walter)—feelings of self-importance, self-loathing, and unrequited love.
The Shining (1980)
There’s a reason this iconic scene from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining often appears in most-memorable-kiss listicles. The kiss is unforgettable and breathtaking in all the best (and worst) ways.
When this scene takes place, Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson) is just beginning to dip his toes into the pool of insanity that lurks within the walls of the Stanley Hotel.
Jack enters room 237 and sees a beautiful woman in the bathtub. A disturbing grin slowly forms across his face as she peels back the curtain and walks toward him in the buff. Jack’s eyebrows are wily and prominent in true Nicholson fashion. The scene jumps back to Jack’s psychic son Danny (Danny Edward Lloyd) foaming at the mouth and shaking in bed. Danny knows and feels what is going down in 237. He knows Dad is corrupted, and he knows the woman in the bathtub is less Brook Shields, more Willem DeFoe.
What makes this scene so special is the lead-in to the kiss and the way the ghost is revealed. We see a close-up shot of the two interlocking lips. What the audience expects is a sudden cut to the front of the woman’s face, revealing her true form. What the audience gets, instead, is the reflection of her soggy, rotting butt in a mirror behind the couple and Jack’s horrified expression as he realizes who he made out with. The camera then pans in to show her face and moves backward from Jack's perspective as she reaches out to grab him. The practical effects still hold up, decades later.
No matter how many times I see the film, I still expect her waterlogged skin to slide right off like slimy bacon.
By Amy Cerkas
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