The work of H.P. Lovecraft has inspired not only legions of fans throughout the years but an entire sub-genre of horror. Highlighted by frail, false realities masking a horrific and unfathomable truth… and of course, tentacles, fans embrace Lovecraftian horror films like the squishy appendages they feature.
And with the release of Dead Shadows, we remember our Top 11 Lovecraftian Horror Films.
This list contains not just movies inspired by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, although some of them are certainly here; it also has movies that fall into the Lovecraftian-inspired category. Cosmic horror of the unknown and unknowable that could fracture sanity hovering over reality. Cthulhu. And, of course, those tentacles we mentioned earlier.
As for honorable mentions, how about the wildly popular hit HBO show “True Detective” for starters? There are certainly some Lovecraftian influences there, including Rust Cohle’s ideas on fate and religion and the cult of Hastur operating in Louisiana. Rod Serling’s “Night Gallery” adapted some Lovecraftian works, and “The Outer Limits” had episodes that embraced the mood.
As for films, there are plenty that walk the Lovecraftian path. John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness and Prince of Darkness certainly fit the bill, as does The Resurrected and Malefique. Lovecraft director extraordinaire Stuart Gordon’s Castle Freak is adapted from one of the author’s stories, and the hilarious horror/sci-fi/comedy At World’s End starts with a pub crawl and ends up with humans facing an unspeakable reality… ‘Show me the way to the next whiskey bar’… now that’s Lovecraftian!
Now, without further ado, on to the…
The Evil Dead (1981)
After The Evil Dead writer/director Sam Raimi studied H.P. Lovecraft, he was inspired to make a film entitled Book of the Dead, which was to be a full-length retelling of his Within the Woods short film. A pretty ambitious plan for a filmmaker who had just turned 20 years old. The Evil Dead does not scream Lovecraft, but the fact that the entire situation revolves around a Necronomicon (Book of the Dead) and the fact that we have plenty of otherworldly, inter-dimensional things going in The Evil Dead (and also its sequels) make this one that definitely qualifies for this list.
Also known by its extended titles, Necronomicon: Book of the Dead and Necronomicon: To Hell and Back, the three sections in this anthology film are each based on Lovecraft stories and feature a different director. Brian Yuzna directs Whispers, which is based on The Whisperer in the Darkness (incidentally, Yuzna also directs the wrap-around piece, The Library, that runs between the anthology segments). Christophe Gans directs The Drowned, based on Rats in the Walls, and The Cold, based on Cool Air, is helmed by Shusuke Kaneko. Lovecraft himself is featured as a character in the movie and is fittingly played by Jeffrey Combs, who would go on to compile quite a resume of Lovecraft-inspired work.