On the 25th anniversary of The Fly, we feel so lovey-dovey we could throw up.
Twenty-five years ago, film fans were shaken by an onscreen romance at once captivating and disgusting. But enough about Shanghai Surprise. In honor of the silver anniversary of David Cronenberg's grotesquely romantic reimagining of the horror classic The Fly, here are our picks for the five most disgusting romantic movies of all time.
1. The Fly (1986)
Al Hedison's human-insect hybrid screaming "Help me!" in the original Fly is one of cinema's most enduring images of horror, because… I mean, seriously, what's worse than being a tiny mutant on the verge of being devoured by a spider? But while David Cronenberg's remake definitely amplified the grossness (with Jeff Goldblum's "Brundlefly" vomiting acid onto the appendages of a rival), the haunting power of the film was more symbolic than supernatural, in its AIDS-era depiction of a woman (Geena Davis) helpless in the face of her lover's harrowing physical decay and eventual demise.
2. Harold & Maude (1971)
Hal Ashby's cult classic has a Hollywood-style high-concept premise: a suicidal young man (Bud Cort) learns to embrace life thanks to his relationship with an older woman. But what separates the film from, say, Cougar Town, is exactly how much older Cort's lover turns out to be. And while Ruth Gordon's sexy septuagenarian thinks age is merely a state of mind, there are plenty of viewers who secretly agree with Eric Christmas' priest character when he says the idea of a young, firm body "commingling with withered flesh, sagging breasts [and] flabby buttocks makes me want to vomit." (Are you listening, Hef?)
3. Splice (2009)
Like the mouthful of teleported steak Geena Davis' character spits out in The Fly, there's something uncanny about Dren, a humanoid genetic hybrid spawned (in part) from the DNA of Sarah Polley's mad scientist, Elsa. But things get really disturbing when Dren rebels against her surrogate "mother" by getting busy with Elsa's romantic (and scientific) partner, Clive (Adrien Brody). Not only is the hook-up vaguely incestuous, but it also kind of borders on bestiality (what with all the mutant animal DNA in the mix). So, uh… there's that.
4. Pink Flamingos (1972)
John Waters (once known as "the Prince of Puke") made a career out of disgust and romance, and Pink Flamingos is a masterpiece of both. And, no, we're not talking about the fairy-tale marriage of the Egg Man and his yolk-loving paramour Edie, which is actually kind of sweet (even though the bride in question is a toothless old lady in a playpen). No, the part that really grosses us out is the sex scene between two naked hillbillies and a slaughtered chicken — though, in Waters' defense, he did wind up eating the bird after first making it one of the most famous entrées in the history of poultry.
5. Crazy Love (2007)
While the disgusting aspects of the aforementioned love stories are mostly physical, this documentary by Dan Klores and Fisher Stevens is more concerned with sordid emotional terrain. The film chronicles the strange-but-true story of Burt Pugach, an obsessed, jilted lover who paid thugs to blind the girl of his dreams, Linda Riss, by throwing lye in her face. Predictably, Burt went to prison for his crime — but, far less predictably, he eventually wound up marrying the physically and emotionally traumatized Linda and lived… happily ever after? Not exactly, according to critic Manohla Dargis, who derided the film "partly because it's unclear if Mr. and Mrs. Pugach know that they are such sick puppies." But like the other ghastly love stories on this list, Crazy Love makes it hard to look away. (Even when we know we should!)