It’s All Hallows’ Eve. That time of year where the boundaries between the seen and the unseen, the natural and the supernatural, the living and the dead, are blurred. Anthropologists would call it traditionally a liminal time, a period betwixt and between the ordinariness of every day. In this time – outside of the parameters and confines of normality, mundanity, and ordinariness – the extraordinary is possible. The inexplicable occurs. The numinous is encountered, and the supernatural felt and experienced.
So, in celebration of this liminal time of year, I’ve decided to compile a list of 31 haunting love stories. These are all haunting love stories of romance where the numinous plays a role, where the extraordinary and the apparently inexplicable converge. This supernaturality is what haunts our often star-crossed lovers.
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Here are haunting loves stories of time travel and alternate dimensions, of magic and curses, of reincarnation and fallen angels. There are ghosts, zombies, vampires, aliens, dead wives whose influence never fades, and dead husbands who can’t let go. There are pasts that are hard to escape, science experiments went awry, secrets, many secrets, and mind games, lots of psychological manipulation. Here are mistaken identities, incurable illnesses, inexplicability and mysterious occurrences. Yes, hauntings, many, many hauntings.
So, here it is, my list of 31 haunting love stories for Halloween.
Enjoy and Happy Halloween!
31 Haunting Love Stories for Halloween
(In alphabetical order)
1. The Age of Adaline (2015)
One day, after an accident, she simply ceased to age.
The Age of Adaline is a romantic fantasy, following the rather long life of 29-year-old Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively), who has been 29 for nearly eight decades now. Her daughter, Flemming (Ellen Burstyn), is an old woman, nearing the end of her life, and still, Adaline remains forever 29. She shuns love and romantic entanglements, seeing no future, and switches from one identity to another through the years.
But what happens when love comes a-knockin’ once again? Can she let down her guard and let in the handsome and tender and kind Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman)? Will she allow herself to love, or will she run away and hide as she has done for decades? And can love kickstart the aging process?
The Age of Adaline is a gem of a movie, hauntingly full of magic and old-fashioned romance. Harrison Ford is powerfully unforgettable in a supporting role here.
Content Note: Rated PG-13 for minor swearing and some suggestive content.
2. Always (1989)
Always is Stephen Spielberg’s remake of the 1943 supernatural romantic war drama A Guy Named Joe. In Spielberg’s updated version, Pete Sandich (Richard Dreyfuss) is an aerial firefighter, not averse to taking undue risks in his work. His best friend and fellow firefighter, Al (John Goodman), and his girlfriend, Dorinda (Holly Hunter), both worry about him and the risks he takes. Convinced to take it a bit easier, Pete decides to take a job training pilots, but he takes just one last fateful run, from which he never returns.
Pete dies and finds himself wandering through a forest, where he meets Hap (Audrey Hepburn in her final role), who informs him that he now has a new purpose. He must return to earth and be a guiding spirit to others, to inspire and put thoughts in their heads and the like. Pete is charged with helping his replacement at the base, Ted Baker (Brad Johnson), a hunk of a man who is making googly eyes at the grieving Dorinda. Can Pete keep his jealousy in check? Can he let Dorinda go? Will he help Ted? Will he help Dorinda?
Content Note: Rated PG for some minor swearing and a few intense scenes.
3. Beautiful Creatures (2013)
Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) is taken aback when the girl of his dreams stands before him. Her name is Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), the new girl in school, and she bears a striking resemblance to the girl who has been haunting his dreams for months. Ethan seeks her out, but Lena is mysterious and discouraging of his advances. Affability personified, Ethan persists and even Lena cannot deny their seemingly inherent bond.
But Lena is destined for otherworldly powers, deadly to mere mortals like Ethan. Lena is a caster, coming from a long line of casters – magical beings of great power, who can “cast” for goodness and light or darkness and evil. Lena feels the struggle within – the darkness calls her. Will she give in? Will she let Ethan in? Is love, true love, its own powerful magic?
Based on a young adult novel of the same name, Beautiful Creatures boasts a stellar cast, including Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons, and Alden Ehrenreich is a charming revelation in this role.
Content Note: Rated PG-13 for violence, scary images, minor swearing and some sexual material.
4. Brigadoon (1954)
On a hunting trip to Scotland, two American friends, Tommy Albright (Gene Kelly) and Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson), find themselves lost in the woods. In their meandering, they stumble upon the mysterious village of Brigadoon, a place seemingly untouched by time and untainted by modernity. Our two travelers are welcomed by the villagers, and Tommy is quickly smitten with a beautiful village lass, Fiona (Cyd Charisse). But there is something amiss in Brigadoon – a miracle and a curse – that put some rather strict conditions on Fiona and Tommy’s burgeoning love. Will Tommy forsake his life to start one together with Fiona in the mystical Brigadoon?
Based on a hit musical, Brigadoon is full of beautifully painted backdrops, choreographed romance, heartfelt melodies and more than a little mystique.
Content Note: Rated G.
5. Casper (1995)
Dr. James Harvey (Bill Pullman), a paranormal specialist and ghost therapist, and his teen daughter Kat (Christina Ricci) arrive at the haunted Whipstaff Manor to exorcise its spirits. Dr. Harvey has been hired by the manor’s spoiled, selfish heiress Carrigan Crittenden (Cathy Moriarty) to deal with the ghosts, so she can finally get her hands on the manor’s supposed hidden treasure.
There are indeed spirits in the old manor house – Casper and his three uncles haunt the place. Casper is a friendly spirit; his uncles more mischievous. Casper and Kat become friends. Dr. Harvey’s ghost obsession reveals itself to be rooted in his desire to contact his dead wife, Amelia. Kat digs into Casper’s mortal past. A supposed Lazarus pit, hidden in the manor, can potentially bring the dead to life. Carrigan Crittenden is up to no go. Dr. Harvey is depressed and obsessed with death. And love is blossoming between Casper and Kat. How does it all play out?
See this sweet, family-friendly fantasy/rom-com and find out.
Content Note: Rated PG for mild language and thematic elements.
6. Chances Are (1989)
Corinne Jeffries (Cybill Shepherd) loses her husband, Louie, in a car accident in 1964. Twenty-three years later, a young man, Alex Finch (Robert Downey Jr.), visits her home as a guest of the long-time family friend Philip (Ryan O’Neal). Philip is in love with Corinne, who has never truly gotten over the loss of Louie. Alex is attracted to Corinne and Louie’s daughter Miranda (Mary Stuart Masterson). But it all gets crazy from there.
Memories of this house, this woman, this place are flooding Alex’s mind, and he soon realizes that he is the reincarnated Louie. And a father can’t hit on his daughter, but he can try to hook up with his wife. Many comedic hijinks ensue. Can Louie’s memories be erased from Alex’s mind? Can Corinne finally move on from Louie and accept the love of the ever-supporting Philip?
Chances Are is a zany rom-com with some great comedic moments.
Content Note: Rated PG.
7. City of Angels (1998)
What happens when an angel falls for a mortal being? Seth (Nicholas Cage) is a heavenly being, whose job it is to comfort the dying and escort the dead to the afterlife. Hanging around hospitals all day, he notices the compassionate and capable surgeon Maggie Rice (Meg Ryan) and is drawn to her. He reveals himself to her, and a friendship and an attraction develop. But he remains a heavenly being and she a mortal.
So, Seth falls – quite literally – falls from heaven to gain a mortal existence in order to be with Maggie. After recovering from his physical injuries from the fall, Seth seeks out Maggie. But will Maggie accept a fallen angel? Can Seth cope with being human and the physical and emotional elation and pain that goes with it? And does the grand scheme of life have other plans for our loving couple than a happily ever after?
Loosely based on the German film, Wings of Desire, City of Angels requires a good supply of tissues before watching.
Content Note: Rated PG-13 for sexuality, including language and some nudity. There is a rather sensuous sex scene, but the skin shots are kept to the shoulders and up.
8. Forever Young (1992)
With an original screenplay by J.J. Abrams, Forever Young is sci-fi romantic drama, starring Mel Gibson, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Elijah Wood.
Grieving the apparent loss of his girlfriend Helen (Isabel Glasser), who is in a coma and on life support and not expected to live, army test pilot Daniel McCormack (Mel Gibson) decides to allow himself to be a guinea pig in a scientific experiment. The year is 1939, and Daniel is to be cryogenically frozen for a year.
Playing in an abandoned warehouse, Nat Cooper (Elijah Wood) and some friends stumble upon what they think to be an old submarine. They play with dials and buttons and something moves inside. Daniel awakens, but it soon becomes apparent that more than a year has passed. Fifty-three years have passed to be exact. Daniel is lost, struggling to understand this world, missing his network, his friends, his family, not knowing what has happened. Nat and his mother Claire (Jamie Lee Curtis) end up taking him in and helping him out. Government agents are after him. His body is being ravaged by aging fits, where he suddenly rapidly ages.
Can Daniel uncover what happened in the past? Can he find out what happened to his dear Helen before it’s too late?
Content Note: Rated PG for some language and domestic conflict.
9. Gaslight (1944)
Gaslight is a classic mystery thriller starring Ingrid Bergman, who won an Academy Award for Best Actress for this role, as well as Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten and a young Angela Lansbury.
After a whirlwind romance and marriage, Paula (Bergman) finds herself back in London, living in the townhouse of her deceased aunt, a renowned and rich opera star. Her new husband, Gregory (Boyer), at first so attentive, begins to become rather volatile and controlling. And then strange things begin happening – lights flickering, items missing, footsteps in an otherwise empty house. Gregory experiences none of these strange happenings and tells the distraught Paula that it’s just her overactive imagination. Paula descends into isolation, confusion, and self-doubt.
Is she going insane? Or is someone messing with her mind? Is there more to this man Paula has married than he is letting on? Is love blind, blinding and binding?
The psychological term “gaslighting” stems from this film – hint, hint.
Content Note: Rated PG for mature subject matter.
10. Ghost (1990)
The banker Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) is murdered in an apparently senseless mugging, while his horrified girlfriend Molly (Demi Moore) looks on. Sam rejects the beckoning light to remain with the grieving Molly.
But when the very mugger who killed him shows up in Molly’s apartment, Sam realizes that his death was no senseless act. Someone was out to get him, and now that someone is a threat to Molly as well. So, the ghostly Sam starts sleuthing, tracking down a killer and learning what it is to be a ghost, all the while trying to protect Molly. Sam enlists the aid of psychic Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), who is the only one who can hear him and act as his surrogate voice and body. Can Sam track down a killer before he strikes again? Can he save Molly? And can he say goodbye and enter the light?
They don’t get much bigger than this blockbuster romantic fantasy thriller. Ghost was nominated for a slew of awards and landed Whoopi Goldberg an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Content Note: Rated PG-13 for some sensuality, violence and strong language.
11. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
The young widow, Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney), moves to a cottage at the seaside with her young daughter. On her very first night in this new place, the ghostly apparition of the cottage’s former owner, the roguishly charming sea captain Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison), appears. He wants her gone, but she stays, and they warm to one another’s presence.
When money troubles strike and Mrs. Muir might be forced to give up the cottage, the good captain decides to write his memoirs, with Lucy as the scribe and author. Working together, they find themselves increasingly falling hopelessly in love. Is there hope for such a hopeless love? Or is it time to find love amongst the living for our dear Mrs. Muir?
This romantic fantasy is a tear-jerking classic.
Content Note: Rated G.
12. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
What if you never lived?
Frank Capra’s Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life explores just that question. Suicidal George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), a terribly desperate yet good, good man, gets a glimpse of life without himself when his guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers) intervenes. After reviewing George’s many acts of kindness and goodness, his self-sacrificing dedication to others’ welfare throughout his life, Clarence gives George a taste of reality without him. The woman who doesn’t know him or love him. The children that never are. The lives that were never spared or saved. The mother who doesn’t know him. The man who never was.
Oh, it doesn’t get much more joyous than this celebration of life, love, humanity and human decency. It’s a Wonderful Life can and should be watched any time of the year, even and especially on All Hallows’ Eve.
Content Note: Rated PG for thematic elements, smoking, and some violence.
13. Just Like Heaven (2005)
The young widower David Abbott’s (Mark Ruffalo) new apartment is haunted by the spirit of a young, beautiful woman, Elizabeth (Reece Witherspoon). Elizabeth refuses to acknowledge her apparent death but has trouble recollecting aspects of her life. Only David can see her, leading many to think him unstable. Sharing the apartment, David and Elizabeth also begin to share confidences and intimacies; they begin to care deeply for one another. But is Elizabeth even real or a figment of David’s grieving mind? Is Elizabeth really dead, or a spirit inexplicably removed from her body? Can love reconnect a soul to its body?
Just Like Heaven is a fantasy rom-com, full of leaps of logic. Saccharine and soppy and silly at times, it will keep you smiling and sighing.
Content Note: Rated PG-13 for some sexual content and swearing.
14. The Lake House (2006)
How do you hold on to someone you’ve never met?
That was the tagline for this romantic drama starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. A remake of a Korean drama Il Mare, The Lake House is a haunting tale of a magical postbox that allows – inexplicably – two people to communicate even though they are two years out of synch.
Dr. Kate Foster (Sandra Bullock) lives at a beautiful lake house in 2006. Architect Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) lives at the same lake house in 2004. Their postbox allows them to mysteriously correspond. And correspond, they do. They share of themselves and their lives, and they eventually fall in love. But can they ever be in synch? Or has something occurred in the past to render their future meeting impossible? Can it be rectified before it’s too late? Can their timelines ever coincide and meet?
Content Note: Rated PG for some language and a disturbing image (a car accident involving a pedestrian).
15. Meet Joe Black (1998)
Loosely based on the 1934 film Death Takes a Holiday (which was based on an Italian play that later became a Broadway play), Meet Joe Black is a romantic fantasy exploring the repercussions of Death taking human form and finding love.
Death (Brad Pitt) is introduced to the Parrish family as Joe Black. Billionaire media mogul Bill Parrish (Anthony Hopkins) knows that he is Death and that he comes for him. Death promises to grant Bill more time, as long as Bill guides Death in his human form. But what happens when Death begins to fall for Bill’s beautiful daughter Susan (Claire Forlani) and she for him? But can Death even love? Is there any future in loving Death? Or is the greatest love letting go?
Content Note: Rated PG-13 for an accident scene, some sexuality, and brief strong language.