I have to expose my bias here: I have never dreamed of getting married, I didn’t play house, I never planned my ultimate wedding, and despite my grandmother’s insistence, I was able to make it through college without getting my Mrs. I won’t bash marriage, because it really works for some folks. But all those happily married and want-to-be married people get TONS of movies to themselves between the dramas, action films, and romantic comedies. Hell, even horror has really great marriages as we saw in my previous post about the Maitlands in Beetlejuice (1988). So, today I am going to reclaim the horror genre for those of us who prefer alternative lifestyles. In the spirit of fun, this list aims to be a little bit silly and a little bit serious. It is no secret that I love horror films that focus on the family. I feel that it is an important platform that exposes both criticisms of traditional family as well as fears about being part one. (WARNING: There are some spoilers and lots of sarcasm in here)
Rosemary’s Baby (1968) tops the list because, sometimes spouses are so inconsiderate. (Subtitle: your friends suck). Not only did Rosemary (Mia Farrow) have to put up with her husband’s weird new clique, but she had to take a back seat in everything. Guy (John Cassavetes) is extremely selfish. He pimps out his wife and his child in hopes of fame and fortune. Talk about a one-sided success story I mean, all Rosemary gets out of this marriage is deceit, a terrible complexion, a creepy kid, and some really overbearing neighbors. Pretty sure this isn’t what Rosemary wanted when she promised to love, honor, and obey…either way Rosemary should have opted out of her nuptials.
The Stepford Wives (1975) because guys just wanna have fun (without the effort). Guys like Walter Eberhart (Peter Masterson) are lazy, little brats. They want the glory but don’t want to expel any of the guts. These gluttonous guys treat their spouses like shiny appliances. Maybe if they had some communication skills, or read a copy of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus from the bargain bin this whole crisis could be averted. Some people would rather go to extremes rather than deal with their issues. Don’t get me wrong we all have a little mental picture of our Mr. or Ms. “right” but The Stepford Wives takes this one a tad far.
The Amityville Horror (1979) because some people just can’t focus. George Lutz’s (James Brolin) business fails because he has too much going on at home. Unable to balance home and work, George has to make a choice. Maybe if he could sleep past 3:15am, stop checking the boathouse, and leave the fire alone he would get more done. I mean, you have to prioritize at some point. So what if you have a room full of flies, oozing toilets, and a babysitter locked in the closet; it’s called homeownership and responsibility. Being an adult blows sometimes and so does your marriage after the wife catches you chasing the kids with an ax (some people are just so sensitive).
The Shining (1980) because you gotta grow up at some point. Sure all work and no play makes us all a little dull, but some people won’t get the hint until you bash them over the head with a baseball bat…literally. You have to be willing to listen to the other people in your life. Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and Danny (Lloyd) Torrance make it abundantly clear that they don’t like this little “get away”. On a more positive note, I have to give Jack Torrance (Nicholson) credit for pursing work at any cost and he did stop drinking after he dislocated his son’s shoulder. Well, at least for a little while.
The Stepfather (1987) because fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. What’s Einstein’s definition of insanity…doing something over and over again and expecting a different result? For Susan Maine (Shelley Hack), whose first marriage was cut short, she finds out that the second marriage also ends in a lot of pain. I do have to give Jerry Blake (Terry O’Quinn) a little credit for leaving his baggage in the past (literally) and he does always try to put family first. But good ol’ Jerry could benefit from a little balance or some Taoism.
Hellraiser (1987) Some trust issues just can’t be worked out. I might be going out on a limb here, but even I have a bottom line. And that line is right about the same point that my spouse cheats on me with my brother and solicits men for sex in order to get her boyfriend some really nice skin. Oh, and I am not thrilled when her new boyfriend has people follow him into my house without my permission. I can see past the fetishism and the world altering puzzle box, but I don’t like unannounced company because it really ruins my day.
Tales From The Darkside (1990) You never can tell when someone will just whig out. You just really have to get to know your spouse to better understand what is important to them. In the segment “Lover’s Vow”, Carola (Rae Dawn Chong) gets so bent out of shape when her husband Preston (James Remar) tells her the truth! Some people are so weird. Carola literally has a split personality and Preston apparently has to battle with whether it is more detrimental to keep his promise to one personality or tell the truth to the other one. I guess some times lies of omission keep some relationships together in this world.
Stir of Echoes (1999) Some people insist on doing things the hard way. Tom Witzky’s (Kevin Bacon) obsession with a 17 year old female ghost is really cutting into his family time. Besides the fact that Tom listens to his imaginary friend more than he listens to his wife, he didn’t have to go and dig up the backyard. His wife was obviously planting useful seeds of wisdom in his brain via her sister Maggie’s hypnosis. Tom could have been more solution focused and avoided all that digging if he had just listened to the women in his life.
Secret Window (2004) Some people just don’t take a hint. Yeah, Johnny Depp goes cuckoo for cocoa puffs in this flick. Amy Rainy (Maria Bellow) was dead on for calling it quits with Mort (Depp) in Secret Window. Ending a marriage often instigates trauma and depression in people. That’s why I suggest the only other thing Amy could have done differently is to never marry in the first place. I bet Mort went bonkers when he heard about all the lawyer fees involved in a divorce. You think people are challenging IN a relationship, try telling them you want OUT of one. I can understand Mort being angry with Amy, her new boyfriend…but for crying out loud, leave the dog out of it.
The Grudge (2004) some guys get so worked up when their wife stalks another man. I mean, humans are only semi-evolved animals. Statistically speaking, most members of the animal kingdom are not monogamous, so why are we so different? It’s okay to look but not touch, right? Takeo Saeki (Matsuyama) gets real bent out of shape when his wife Kayako (Fuji) has feelings for another man. Instead of talking about it, he resorts to violence and ultimately unleashes a horrible and lasting curse. As history dictates (at least it does in my family) hell hath no fury like a woman scorn. . . and of course we all know, well behaved women rarely make history.
The Woman (2011) because some dudes be thinkin’ they can tame a woman’s wild ways. Often drawn in by a woman’s spontaneity and capriciousness, it seems to be the first thing a guy resents once she bites his finger off. I believe that the people who try to control the actions of others tend to be the ones needing restraint. Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers) is a first rate, grade A, jerk. He thinks he can have his cake and eat it too while trying to “civilize” everyone around him. He has to learn the hard way that when you try to cage a free spirit, it will only lash out and eat your face.
Sinister (2012) because some guys just over compensate for their failure. Let’s just preface this by saying that Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is a tool. He can’t handle the fact that he might be a one hit wonder, and a pretty rich one at that. While chasing his dragons, Ellison uproots his family against their will, subjects his son to violent images and night terrors, moves into the site of a mass murder, and then lies about it. So much for companionate marriages, right? Sinister reminds us that when you are a bad husband (and father) the whole family suffers.
A Good Marriage (2014) because you can’t hide your dirty little secrets forever. Soooo, your husband is a serial killer you say? No problem, as long as the kids don’t know. Staying in a bad marriage is worse than getting into a marriage in the first place. All good recovering addicts know that we are as sick as our secrets, and this marriage is pretty sick. As someone who is in recovery from mainstream coupling, I don’t want to have a “good marriage” if this is what it looks like.
Candyman (1992) because you know your husband is a jerk when you would rather make out with a fictitious dead man with bees in his mouth and a hook for a hand.