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Two days from the publication of this piece will be Valentine's Day, the one day out of the year where one can openly offer their partner expensive gifts in exchange for possible sex without expecting an offended slap across the face in return. As of right now, it appears I'll be spending the day alone - which is not unusual in and of itself, though this particular year I happen to be without even the excuses of "change of address," "restraining order" or "she bought a gun."

It's also the time of year when people will feel (or flat-out be) compelled to watch "romantic" movies, most of which will be terrible - particularly the noxious creature that is the modern Romantic Comedy. Yeegh. Here's the thing: Romance isn't funny. Sex is funny. Romance, generally, is tragic. If that show was called Romance in the City, it'd be even worse than it already is. All of those great romantic comedies of the golden age? Those aren't romantic comedies - they're sex comedies that were simply made in an era when sex could only be implied or described via euphemism.

Anyway, here are some... different love/sex/whatever story movies I recommend you check out if you're as burned out on the whole thing as I am. Many of them may or may not be new to you, but all of them are a bit off-kilter, to say the least. Think of them as a sorbet to cleanse your palette from all the crap that'll be clogging up TVs, theaters and DVD players on the 14th. Alternately, they all make extremely effective "What the hell is wrong with you?" movies if you're ever looking to rapidly end a party.

Max Mon Amour (1986)

This isn't as well known as you'd think it would be, but if you've heard of it at all it was probably described as the "Charlotte-Rampling-F*cks-A-Monkey-Movie." It's about a British diplomat in France who suspects his wife is having an affair. He's game to be open-minded and Modern European about the situation - after all, he's rather "close" with his secretary - until he discovers that her lover is a chimpanzee. In what amounts to a biting satire of French vs. British sexual mores, Max (creature-suit pro Ailsa Berk in a frighteningly convincing Rick Baker costume) is brought home to live with them so that the husband can try and figure out just what's going on (Rampling's character, of course, is matter-of-fact about the whole thing - as though it's everyone else who's acting crazy) and it becomes a kind of kinky spin on Beethoven-style movies wherein a straight-laced dad clashes with the rowdy pet the rest of the family adores. In case you're wondering, no, we never get to see precisely what Max and the Missus are doing in their alone time, though we do get a scene where a monkey fires a shotgun, which is five kinds of awesome.

Living Dead Girl (La Morte Vivante) (1982)

I don't know if this was the inspiration for the Rob Zombie song, but since it's an obscure low-budget European horror flick by cult director Jean Rollin, there's at least a good chance. Rollin overwhelmingly specialized in lesbian vampire movies shot, edited and scored to resemble the prevailing art film aesthetic of whenever he was making them (his undisputed masterpiece is a mod/gonzo/trip epic titled - I kid you not - Vampyros Lesbos.) Basically, if you're looking for Euro-chic models in translucent nightgowns feeling each other up to jazz-ish background music, Rollin is your man. This is one of his few films to feature a genuine linear narrative, such as it is: A toxic waste spill revives a dead woman as a sort of vampire, whose childhood gal-pal is so glad to see her "alive" again that she goes psychotic - ah, unrequited Sapphic-longing, what would bad movies do without you? That's the hook of this one: The human woman is the monster - trapping victims to feed to her vampire would-be lover who herself wants no part of it and just wishes to be dead again. There are people who've found it strangely compelling or even moving. I'm not one of them, but it is odd as all hell.

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