Every year on February 14th, most people exchange cards, candy, gifts or flowers with their special “valentine.” Today is Valentine’s Day. This day is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but has origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture. It was also dedicated to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus—those twins that fed at the teats of a she-wolf.
To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
Cupid is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection in classical mythology. He is often portrayed as the son of the love goddess Venus, and is known in Latin also as Amor ("Love"). His Greek counterpart is Eros. Eros appears in Classical Greek art as a slender and winged youth, But in the Hellenistic period he became more and more portrayed as chubby boy, with the bow and arrow to represent uncontrollable desire.
Cupid is a minor character in myths who serves mostly to set the plot in motion. The only time he is a main character is in the tale of Cupid and Psyche, when wounded by his own weapons he experiences the ordeal of love.
So what can be scary about a day dedicated to love? Well, how about some horror flicks you can watch with your horror honey?
My Bloody Valentine (1981): A decades-old folk tale surrounding a deranged murderer killing those who celebrate Valentine's Day turns out to be true to legend when a group defies the killer's order and people start turning up dead.
My Bloody Valentine (2009): One of my favorite actors from the TV show, Supernatural, Jensen Ackles, is in this film: Tom returns to his hometown on the tenth anniversary of the Valentine's night massacre that claimed the lives of 22 people. Instead of a homecoming, Tom finds himself suspected of committing the murders, and it seems like his old flame is the only one that believes he's innocent.
Valentine (2001): Five women are stalked by an unknown assailant while preparing for Valentine's Day.
Lover's Lane (1999): A man with a hook for a hand who committed a series of murders thirteen years ago begins to hunt down his victims' children.
X-Ray--Original Title: Hospital Massacre (1981): While receiving a routine check-up, a beautiful woman is stalked by a maniac out to avenge a childhood Valentine's Day
Bride of Frankenstein (1935): Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate. (It is sort of a love story).
The Shape of Water (2017): In theaters now and Oscar nominated, including Best Picture: At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.
Creature From the Black Lagoon--since Shape of Water reminded me of the Creature and his fascination for a human woman in the movie (1954): A strange prehistoric beast lurks in the depths of the Amazonian jungle. A group of scientists try to capture the animal and bring it back to civilization for study.
Cat People (1942): An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland's fables if they are intimate together.
Cat People--Remake (1982): More erotic than the original. A young woman's sexual awakening brings horror when she discovers her urges transform her into a monstrous black leopard.
A Chinese Ghost Story (1987): This Hong Kong period piece tells the tale of love between a human and a ghost enslaved by a wicked tree demon.
Ghost (1990): After a young man is murdered, his spirit stays behind to warn his lover of impending danger, with the help of a reluctant psychic.
I Will Follow You Into the Dark (2012): A woman reeling from the death of her parents becomes attached to an alluring man whose sudden disappearance sends her and her friends into a haunted high-rise to find him.
Spring (2014): A young man in a personal tailspin flees from US to Italy, where he sparks up a romance with a woman harboring a dark, primordial secret.
Warm Bodies (2013): After a highly unusual zombie saves a still-living girl from an attack, the two form a relationship that sets in motion events that might transform the entire lifeless world.
Wolf (1994): Publisher Will Randall becomes a werewolf and has to fight to keep his job. The movie is also the antithesis of a young adult novel's adolescent love story. Wolf finds love with a more adult pairing: Michelle Pfeiffer and a lycanthropic Jack Nicholson.
The Phantom of the Opera (1925): A mad, disfigured composer seeks love with a lovely young opera singer. No, not the musical, but the first one on film.