Beauties and Their Beasts in the Horror Genre

Beauties and Their Beasts in the Horror Genre (click for larger image)Throughout history there have been tales, legends, what-have-you about beautiful women and their effect on creatures considered unworthy or dangerous or abominations. The “love of a good woman” scenario carried to an extreme as these women do indeed usually fall in love with their hideous “captors”. Many of these stories go way back in oral history: fairy tales such as Beauty and the Beast, several Greek myths – Persephone and the God of the Underworld.

But it is in horror films that we see this phenomenon the most. All the way back to Lon Chaney and his Phantom of the Opera – although it could easily be argued that Christine was none too pleased when she de-masked her captor. But there are other horror (horrible?) couples that have endured in the genre:

1. King Kong and his Ann Darrow (Fay Wray in 1933, Naomi Watts in 2005) – King Kong is the film that gave us the famous line “It was beauty killed the beast.” And it did.

2. Jean Cocteau’s brilliant 1946 La Belle et La Bête where, again, beauty (Belle) wins the heart of the horrific beast (La Bête). But this time there is a happy ending. Sort of…

3. The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and his “love”, Kay Lawrence (Julia Adams). But again, ‘twas beauty (and science) which led to the demise of the beast. And Kay’s inability to hold her breath very long was a deal-breaker too. By the way, this is the 55th anniversary of the release of The Creature, and in its honor The Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical will soon be opening at Universal Studios. Show the Scaly One some love and check it out!!

Beauties and Their Beasts in the Horror Genre (click for larger image)4. In 1958 The Fly (David Hedison) gave his love, Helene Delambre (Patricia Owens), MORE than enough reasons to begin divorce proceedings, but instead, she decides the best course is to put her husband out of his misery (that takes a LOT of love!) And in 1986’s version, poor Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) and his lovely lady, Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), again decide that a mercy killing would be the best way out of a REALLY bad situation.

5. The gentle, tender love of Edward Scissorhands (Johnny Depp) for Kim (Winona Ryder) in Tim Burton’s 1990 fairy tale. Just thinking about that film and the unrequited love Kim and Edward had for each other makes me cry.

6. Francis Ford Coppola claimed his 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the most faithful re-telling of the 1897 novel, and it was … to a point. But having Mina Murray (Winona Ryder) fall in love with the young Dracula (Gary Oldman) was stretching it a bit although who could blame the girl. Oldman was HOT!

7. Beasts are abundant in HBO’s hit “True Blood”, but the hottest couple is Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and her immortal love William Compton (Stephen Moyer). Cayenne pepper hot!

8. Also on television, back in the late 80s, were Vincent (Ron Perlman) and Catherine (Linda Hamilton), making female viewers swoon with their update on the “Beauty and the Beast” tale.

Beauties and Their Beasts in the Horror Genre (click for larger image)9. Going even further back was Dan Curtis’ “Dark Shadows”, where vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) was working his eternal-loving way through most of the females in the Collins family, present-day and past. And viewers LOVED it!

10. And who could forget James Whale’s 1935 masterpiece The Bride of Frankenstein, although it is debatable who was more the beast: Frankenstein’s Monster (Boris Karloff) or his hissing, don’t-want-NONE-of-that bride (Elsa Lancester). As for beauty, well, in this film that would be in the eye of the beholder.

11. In 1932 Karl Freund’s The Mummy gave us the seriously eternal love of Im-Ho-Tep (Boris Karloff) for his princess, Anck-es-en-Amon (Zita Johann). Unfortunately, reincarnation can have its drawbacks, memory-wise, and Helen Grosvenor, the modern-day incarnation of the princess, was less than thrilled with her suitor.

12. A rather twisted “romance”, but I think there was a little sumthin’-sumthin’ going on with Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) as far as his feelings towards Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) were concerned in Jonathan Demme’s 1991 The Silence of the Lambs. And Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine)… well, he loved himself. Perhaps a tad too much.

I am sure I have forgotten quite a few memorable horror “romances” as well as some which are debatable as being romances (Leatherface and “Stretch” in TCM 2 – that was more of a “crush”) so feel free to add your picks in the Dread Central forum. And remember, true love never dies …

Elaine Lamkin

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