Lovecraftian Films Designed to Terrify

What H.P. Lovecraft-themed magazine would be complete without a list of Lovecraftian-style movies? Ridley Scott, John Carpenter, Joss Whedon and Sam Raimi have all made films with a heavy Lovecraft influence. So, here’s a list to help creep the shit out of you and your loved ones.

Die, Monster, Die! (1965) is a take on Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space. The film stars legendary horror actor Boris Karloff and is about a radioactive meteorite wreaking havoc on a small New England estate. Lovecraft’s original text is a seemingly impossible one to adapt to the screen due to the meteorite’s incomparable-to-anything-of-this-earth color. The film suffers from a weak script but does boast a tremendous performance from Karloff.

The 1985 nugget Re-Animator is the most well-known of any Lovecraft adaptation. The film is a sometimes loose adaptation of Lovecraft’s Herbert West – Reanimator series. In the film, Jeffrey Combs plays Herbert West, a scientist who helps invent a serum that can bring people, and cats, back to life. He teams up with a medical student and together they get into Frankenstein-ian hijinks. It seems Combs became a popular choice for Lovecraftian film as he appears in a few others including 1993’s Necronomicon: Book of the Dead and From Beyond (1986). On a side note, Re-Animator was the code word for pot between Lester and Ricky in American Beauty.

die-monster-die-1965John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is reminiscent of Lovecraft’s novella At the Mountains of Madness.  In the film version, researchers are trapped at an Arctic station and are terrorized by a shape-shifting creature that has been frozen in the ice for millions of years. The Thing creeps into the station, taking the appearance of the researchers that it absorbs. There’s a solid performance by a bearded Kurt Russell as helicopter pilot turned hero, R.J. MacReady.

Ridley Scott’s films Alien (1979) and Prometheus (2012) are considered to deal with Lovecraftian principles. Much like The Thing, both use At the Mountains of Madness as a primary source, the latter more than the former. Instead of the Arctic, we’re in space.

The Evil Dead, The Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness make up Sam Raimi’s trilogy (before Spiderman). The first two films have Ash (Bruce Campbell!) battling unseen evil in a cabin in the woods, the final film sees him battling a very visible evil as he defends a medieval city. All three of the films revolve around the Necronomicon, the fictional book of magic that Lovecraft created and is now used to explain the unexplained and fill in the holes of a disjointed narrative.

Children of the Corn is like Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth, but the film deals with a Midwestern town run by a cult of children who worship an elder god who inhabits the corn fields instead of a seaside town run by a cult worshipping an elder God of the ocean as in the story. And when that creepy manchild screeches at the ginger kid saying, “He wants you too, Malachi!” you’ll freak for sure.

In 2012, Joss Whedon made Cabin in the Woods, a Lovecraftian horror flick with an updated twist. This film shows five young (and obviously wicked hot) college students venturing up to a cabin for a weekend of fun. What they don’t know is that an organization called the Faculty had somehow coerced them into doing so in order to sacrifice them to The Ancient Ones, gods who once ruled the earth. The Lovecraft influence is hammered home at the finale when one of the Faculty is killed by a merman; terrifying creatures from the sea are a Lovecraft favorite.

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