films Profound Relationships Between Humans & Corpses in Film  

Lisa A. Flowers
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Thankfully, cinema will never want for great films about human-ghost romances, but what about romances between humans and corpses-proper? When you think about the "best" necrophilia in cinema, your mind probably goes to human-vampire shag fests like that pseudo-orgy with Keanu Reeves and Monica Bellucci in Bram Stoker's Dracula, or maybe human-zombie lover relationships. 

This list aspires to examine passionate relationships between people and actual dead  bodies. Some are brief, some long-lasting. Some are sexual, some platonic. If you've never thought of carcass kissing and casket cuddling in terms of hearts, flowers, and Oedipal complexes, read on, and remember that corpsification is no excuse for leaving a relationship. Corpses need love too; as a society, maybe it's time we stop stigmatizing grave robbing lovers. 


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Aww ... who doesn't love Cemetery Man's by-now seminal romance between a lovable mortician's assistant and his decapitated sweetheart? Director Michele Soavi's surreal and merry story of corpses (and lovers) who rise seven days after their burials has become a cult classic since it was first released in 1994.

In the film, undertaker Rupert Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) lives on the grounds of a rambling Gothic graveyard with his mentally compromised sidekick, Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro). The two stay busy burying, then killing, the undead. When beautiful young Valentina (Fabiana Formica), the mayor's daughter, loses her head in a motorcycle accident, an enraptured Gnaghi, anticipating her zombified resurrection, digs her corpse out of its Snow White-esque glass coffin and embarks on a happily reciprocated romance with the dead girl's noggin.

Gnaghi and Valentina live in harmony for a while, eating spaghetti and singing songs, until tragedy intervenes. But their love is enough to make your head spin, while it lasts. 

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Indie horror gem Nina Forever introduced the world to one of the most ghoulishly original love triangles ever. When Rob (Cian Barry) loses his beloved girlfriend Nina (Fiona O'Shaughnessy) in a car accident, he's inconsolable, and attempts suicide. Eventually, he becomes involved with his co-worker, Holly (Abigail Hardingham), a sympathetic goth girl who thinks that his unsuccessful attempt to take his life is romantic.

But there's a problem: whenever the two attempt to have sex, Nina's corpse claws its way out of the center of the bed ... bloodied, creaking, and jealously possessive ... and tries to put an end to the proceedings. That ought to be enough to sell anyone, right there, but Nina Forever is more than just a clever idea ... it's a touching, romantic, and really witty film about loss, as well.


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Obscure Roger Corman period piece The Terror is fun, gothic, and campy, and notable for being one of Jack Nicholson's earliest film appearances. He stars as Lt. Andre Duvalier, a dashing French soldier who's first seen riding his horse on a beach. Delirious from thirst and hunger, he collapses, and is saved by Helene (Sandra Knight), a mysterious, beautiful woman.

Eventually, it's revealed the girl is a specter/reanimated corpse who's been kept alive for the purpose of tormenting her husband (Boris Karloff), who murdered her in a jealous rage after catching her with another man. Duvalier is besotted, but his attempts to save his love prove futile: at film's end, after they share a passionate kiss, she melts away into a corpse that looks for all the world like milk chocolate melting over a hardened-candy skull ... more Willy Wonka's House of Horrors that Hammer Horror-proper.

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"Dance with me, you little toad."

So says beautiful, disdainful seductress Eva (Alice Krige) to one of her four suitors in Ghost Story shortly before he kills her; the men then stuff her not-quite lifeless body into a car and push it into a river. Decades later, Eva's shape-shifting corpse, masquerading  as a seductive femme fatale, begins to haunt her now-elderly beaus (who include screen legends Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Melvyn Douglas, in memorable final film appearances). 

Krige's deeply disquieting performance - she can go from misty-eyed to psychopathically soulless in two seconds flat - makes Ghost Story a riveting wintertime bloodcurdler about guilt, retribution, and how romance can go wrong, especially when its recipient survives the grave.

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