When you're in love with someone who doesn't love you back, what do you do? Do you recite ridiculous platitudes like, "If you love something, set it free; if it returns to you, it was meant to be"? Or do you put on your grown-up pants, have a few drinks to shake it off, and move on? These are relatively sane options, but if you're like the obsessive psychos in horror movies, your idea of reasonable is stalking the hell out of your chosen object of desire until you've frightened/maimed them into submission. I think I'm starting to understand what that "What is Love?" song is all about ("Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more") – that dude is begging for his life. Of course, if you're the obsessive psycho in question, this isn't really stalking – it's just a tragic case of unrequited love.
For your consideration, in this week's Sex Education we take a look at the best tales of unrequited love and the lessons they have to offer:
You can't mention "stalker" without mentioning Fatal Attraction in the same breath; the film has ceased to be a punchline and has become something of a mandatory reference in our pop-cultural consciousness. The Adrian Lyne film tells the story of Dan (Michael Douglas), a married man and father who has a weekend fling with his business associate Alex (Glenn Close). But Alex refuses to believe this was just a fling, and so she cuts herself, claims she's pregnant, stalks Dan and his family, and even (briefly) kidnaps his daughter. These are all relative stalker hallmarks, but it's a little later in the film where Alex becomes reigning queen of stalker behavior: one evening while Dan and his family are out, Alex kills his daughter's pet rabbit and leaves it boiling on the family's stove. In the end, Dan violently confronts Alex, resulting in a final visit from the ol' bucket of crazy where Dan and his wife Beth end up killing her. Fatal Attraction serves as a thrilling parable about infidelity and honesty, and although it paints a woman scorned with a brush that's a little too stereotypical, it does a fair job of balancing this with an adulterous, dishonest, and slightly violent counterpart in Dan.
Lesson learned: Don't cheat on your wife, and if you do, make sure it's with a random stranger you never have to see or hear from again. Also, be sure to psycho-proof your pet bunny's cage – may I suggest padlocks and a moat? (Okay, I really just want to see a bunny live in a castle with a tiny drawbridge.)
Takashi Miike's most notorious film tells the story of lonely widower Aoyama who, at the behest of his business associate, sets up a fake casting call to audition women to be his wife. He's immediately taken by Asami, a former dancer and sensitive soul. But there's something not quite right with Asami – namely, she waits by the phone for four days for Aoyama to call, and she keeps a tortured man in a burlap sack in her apartment, feeding him bowls of her own vomit . I suppose if you can look past these character flaws, Asami would make an ideal spouse, but unfortunately for Aoyama, Asami refuses to accept that someone who loves her could also possibly love anyone else, even their own child. In the film's climax, Asami breaks into Aoyama's home, discovers he had a wife, and decides to play a fun game where she sticks needles in his body (and the eyes – oh god, the eyes) and cuts his feet off with piano wire!
Lesson learned: A fake audition is a great way to meet women, but be sure the references on their resume check out before committing to anything more serious.
Judge me all you want for this pick, but I'm a child of the 90s and a former worshiper at the altar of Alicia Silverstone. Pre-Clueless, Silverstone acted opposite Cary Elwes in the Alan Shapiro thriller The Crush. Silverstone plays Adrian, an intelligent and attractive fourteen year old whose parents are renting their guest home to Nick (Elwes), a new journalist in town. Adrian quickly develops a crush on Nick, but when he rebuffs her advances things get creepy. First off, when Nick sees Adrian sunbathing, she decides it's the perfect time to lure him in with what is quite possibly the most insane one-liner in the history of cinema: "Guess what? I got my period," she says suggestively. Hey Adrian, guess what? They have products for that! With wings, even!
Her weird over-share of a pick-up line aside, Adrian proves her stalker worth when she locks Nick's girlfriend in a darkroom and empties a nest of wasps through the vents, but the real crazy stuff comes at the end, when Adrian falsely accuses Nick of rape using a discarded condom from his trash. She then kidnaps her own best friend Cheyenne (who helped procure evidence for Nick) and ties her to a – I am not even making this up – carousel in her family's attic.
Lesson learned: This should go without saying, but flirting with teenagers is a really bad idea. But just in case you're still not sure about someone (but you have confirmed through government issued identification that they are, in fact, of legal age), check their attic for carousels.
Another stalker classic of the 90s! Reese Witherspoon stars as high school student Nicole; intent on rebelling against her father and stepmother, Nicole starts dating the older David (Mark Wahlberg). The film features a ridiculous hands-in-the-pants scene on a rollercoaster set to The Sundays' cover of The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses," automatically giving it an A+ in my book. After they sleep together, David becomes violent, attacking Nicole's best male friend and giving her a black eye in the process. She forgives him and things get worse from there, as David rapes Nicole's best friend (Alyssa Milano), gives himself a prison-style tattoo of Nicole's name on his chest, and eventually attacks her and her family, killing her dog in the process. But what makes David an exceptional basket case is the scene where he repeatedly pounds on his chest in order to give himself bruises he can blame on Nicole's dad to turn her against her own father.
Lesson learned: Be wary of any dude who wants to get frisky on a roller coaster and thinks homemade tattoos are fresh.
Play Misty For Me
Long before stalker mainstay Fatal Attraction, Clint Eastwood directed and co-starred with Jessica Walter (Arrested Development) in this 1971 classic film. Walter plays Evelyn, a woman obsessed with Eastwood's radio DJ character Dave. Dave is a sensitive, poetic type and Evelyn calls into his station every night, asking him to play Erroll Garner's "Misty" for her. She stalks Dave at his favorite watering hole, and after successfully bedding him, starts to lose her mind. She shows up at his house without warning and acts utterly bonkers when he won't be with her because he's trying to patch things up with his girlfriend. Like Glenn Close in Fatal Atttraction, Evelyn stages a suicide attempt in a desperate maneuver to win Dave's affection, but that's not the worst part: later, after many unsuccessful attempts to make Dave love her, Evelyn moves in with his girlfriend Tobie under the false name "Annabelle." As these things do, the film ends with Dave punching Evelyn so hard it knocks her off the balcony and into the ocean. Even when he's not playing a bad-ass, Eastwood is still kind of a bad-ass.
Lesson learned: Never, ever play "Misty" for anyone. That song is like the siren call for crazy.