Killer crushes, literally – that’s what we’re talking about this time. We also run down our own biggest celebrity crushes, because why not? And we talk about the best horror films to capture the moment obsession turns dangerous.
5. Be My Cat: A Film for Anne (2015)
Adrian is a Romanian filmmaker who likes girls and cats. He does not like dogs or boys. His favorite thing? Anne Hathaway as Cat Woman.
He was so inspired by her performance that he knew he had to make a film with her. To convince her, he’s lured three actresses to shoot a film with him. That film is really just to convince Anne, his beloved, that she should star in the real movie.
She’s not going to want to.
This movie works on the sheer, weird charisma of writer/director/star Adrian Tofei. He is pathetic and charming and terrifying as he documents his direction as a kind of “behind the scenes” for Anne, so she can understand how truly perfect she is for his film and he is for her artistic future. The result is unsettling, unique and wildly entertaining.
4. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
You know the story – a shadowy figure haunts the Paris opera house, demading that the object of his affection, Christine, be given the lead in Faust. In what amounts to a cautionary tale about women prioritizing career over family, the story revolves around a masked and disfigured madman and the singer who is easily duped, then saved by righteous men.
The reason this particular version of the film works so well is, of course, Lon Chaney’s now-legendary look. The actor devised his own make up and underwent painful tricks of physical contortion, succeeding in shocking audiences with a ghastly but very realistic visage. His flair as an actor is also on display, and though other versions sometimes mine for a bit of empathy or heartbreak as this hideous creature connives for a love triumphant, Chaney delivers menace and horror.
3. The Fan (1982)
The first thing Eckhart Schmidt’s film has in its favor is that the audience is meant to empathize with the fan, Simone (Désirée Nosbusch). Generally, we see the fanatical from the celebrity’s point of view, but this makes more sense because every member of the audience is more likely to have lost their shit over a teen idol than they’ve been worshipped themselves.
And yet, Simone clearly has a screw loose. Schmidt’s approach to her obsession as seen through the eyes of worried parents, apologetic postmen and other adults is confused and compassionate. Teenage girls – who can understand them? The tone is ideal to set up the explosive heartbreak you know is coming, as well as a third act you couldn’t possibly see coming.
2. Antiviral (2012)
If you could catch Kim Kardashian’s cold, would you?
This is the intriguing concept behind writer/director Brandon Cronenberg’s seething commentary on celebrity obsession, Antiviral.
Young Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) works for a clinic dealing in a very specific kind of treatment. They harvest viruses from willing celebrities, encrypt them (so they can’t spread – no money if you can’t control the spread), and sell the illnesses to obsessed fans who derive some kind of bodily communion with their adored by way of a shared herpes virus. Gross.
But the ambitious Syd pirates these viruses by injecting himself first, before the encryption. Eventually, his own nastiness-riddled blood is more valuable than he is, and he has to find a way out of quite a pickle. Maybe vitamin C?
1. Misery (1990)
Kathy Bates had been knocking around Hollywood for decades, but no one really knew who she was until she landed Misery. Her sadistic nurturer Annie Wilkes – rabid romance novel fan, part-time nurse, full-time wacko – ranks among the most memorable crazy ladies of modern cinema.
James Caan plays novelist Paul Sheldon, who kills off popular character Misery Chastain, then celebrates with a road trip that goes awry when he crashes his car, only to be saved by his brawniest and most fervent fan, Annie. Well, she’s more a fan of Misery Chastain’s than she is Paul Sheldon’s, and once she realizes what he’s done, she refuses to allow him out of her house until she brings Misery back to literary life.
Caan seethes, and you know there’s an ass-kicking somewhere deep in his mangled body just waiting to get out. But it’s Bates we remember. She nails the bumpkin who oscillates between humble fan, terrifying master, and put-upon martyr. Indeed, both physically and emotionally, she so thoroughly animates this nutjob that she secured an Oscar.