Entertainment

The Horror Films That Might Owe Their Existence To H.P. Lovecraft


With Lovecraft Nation ending its acclaimed first season, chances are you’ll be seeking to fill that new hole in your viewing schedule with extra content material primarily based on or impressed by the works of the enigmatic creator from Windfall, Rhode Island.

Let’s get one factor clear upfront: Howard Phillips Lovecraft was very a lot a product of his time and upbringing, and his views on race, ethnicity, and sophistication — whereas commonplace for the place and when he lived — have been really noxious, a side of his legacy that Lovecraft Nation addresses in its personal themes. Nevertheless it’s additionally clear that Lovecraft was arguably probably the most influential horror author of the 20th century, with a attain that extends to today.

Whereas there have been numerous motion pictures primarily based straight on tales by Lovecraft — together with titles like Die, Monster, Die! (1965), The Dunwich Horror (1970), Re-Animator (1985) and its sequels, From Past (1986), Dagon (2001), The Whisperer in Darkness (2011), and Colour Out of House (2020) — chances are you’ll be stunned simply what number of extra available main horror movies and cult favorites have been influenced by his writing by way of plotlines, themes, temper and imagery.

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Here’s a readout of 20 motion pictures, spanning the final 60 years, by which the pervasive presence of H.P. Lovecraft had an simple affect, making many of those efforts into principally efficient and infrequently nice horror movies. Even the Nice Previous Ones would approve…

X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes

X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963)

Legendary filmmaker Roger Corman had simply tailored a Lovecraft story in The Haunted Palace (though the film was marketed as a part of his Edgar Allan Poe cycle), however this sci-fi movie additionally clearly channeled among the creator’s sense of cosmic horror.

Ray Milland performs a scientist who invents a components that permits him to see by way of nearly all the things, ultimately peering into the middle of the universe itself. What he views there leads him to a stunning determination that followers of Lovecraft’s work would respect.

Carol Lynley in The Shuttered Room

The Shuttered Room (1967)

This British manufacturing was primarily based on a brief story by August Derleth, Lovecraft’s writer and a famous creator in his personal proper. Derleth primarily based his story on a fraction left behind by Lovecraft after the latter’s loss of life, with the film increasing on the story even additional.

Gig Younger and Carol Lynley star as a pair who inherit Lynley’s household mill solely to seek out one thing horrifying residing on the prime of the home. Numerous Lovecraftian parts — a cursed home, a household secret, and unusual locals — are all right here.

Alien (1979)

Alien (1979)

Lovecraft’s work arguably existed on that knife edge between horror and science fiction — the Nice Previous Ones of his Cthulhu Mythos have been, in any case, historic entities that existed within the darkest corners of the universe.

One of many biggest sci-fi/horror hybrids of all time, Alien, clearly took a cue from Lovecraft’s work: the origins and motivations of its xenomorphs have been completely unknowable to human understanding, and even the look of the alien echoed the gelatinous, glistening flesh of the Previous Ones (too dangerous later motion pictures like Prometheus and Alien: Covenant ruined it by explaining far an excessive amount of of the alien’s historical past).

City of the Living Dead
Scorpion

Metropolis of the Residing Useless (1980)

Italian director Lucio Fulci directed a number of movies impressed by the work of Lovecraft, beginning with this gorefest starring Christopher George (Grizzly) and Catriona MacColl. When a priest hangs himself on the grounds of a cemetery within the city of Dunwich (a city created by Lovecraft), it opens a portal to hell that permits the residing useless to erupt into our world.

Fulci’s film is commonly nonsensically plotted and extra reliant on gore than Lovecraft ever was, however the otherworldly, surreal environment is unquestionably sourced from the grasp.

The Beyond

The Past (1980)

The second movie is Lucio Fulci’s “Gates of Hell” trilogy (the third was The Home by the Cemetery) is maybe probably the most closely Lovecraftian, with Fulci common Catriona MacColl inheriting a lodge in Louisiana that seems to be — you guessed it — a portal to the world of the useless.

Just like the director’s different work, it’s inconsistently acted and directed, nevertheless it oozes with a surreal, unsettling environment that nearly turns into deliberately disorienting. Hell of an ending too — actually.

The Evil Dead

The Evil Useless (1981)

Sam Raimi was simply 20 when he and pals Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell got down to make a low-budget horror film known as Guide of the Useless, primarily based on Raimi’s curiosity in Lovecraft. The completed product, The Evil Useless, featured loads of Lovecraftian touches: a e book of arcane evil data, entities from one other dimension, reanimated corpses and extra.

It additionally grew to become one of many biggest cult horror motion pictures of all time, spawning a whole franchise and — even because it veered extra into comedy — staying true to its cosmic horror roots.

The Thing (1982)
Common

The Factor (1982)

Regardless that it’s squarely set within the science fiction style, John Carpenter’s good adaptation of the 1938 John W. Campbell Jr. novella Who Goes There? (filmed in 1951 as The Factor from One other World) is definitely cosmic horror.

Though the title creature lands on Earth in a spaceship, its immense age, obvious indestructibility, completely alien intelligence and formless means to shapeshift make it one of the Lovecraftian — and terrifying — monsters to ever slither throughout the display. The distant, desolate setting and rising paranoia among the many characters add to the fear and awe.

Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters (1984)

Sure, it’s top-of-the-line mixtures of horror and comedy to ever emerge onto the display. However Ghostbusters’ second half — by which an condominium constructing designed by an insane architect seems to be a gateway to a realm of monstrous demons led by “Gozer the Gozerian” — is pure Lovecraft.

The monstrous nature of the menace, the traditional rites and secret cult used to summon it — all of that is nonetheless fairly cosmically eerie even because it’s performed principally for laughs and thrills.

Prince of Darkness

Prince of Darkness (1987)

The second entry in what got here to be referred to as John Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy” is maybe the least influenced by Lovecraft. Nevertheless it nonetheless packs a cosmic wallop with its arcane secrets and techniques lengthy buried in an deserted, decrepit church, its portal to a different dimension dominated over by an Anti-God, its mutated, reanimated human monsters and its mind-bending mixture of non secular legends and scientific hypothesis (credit score as nicely to British author Nigel Kneale, an much more huge inspiration right here).

In The Mouth Of Madness

Within the Mouth of Insanity (1995)

Carpenter accomplished his trilogy (arguably his biggest achievement exterior of Halloween) with probably the most Lovecraftian of the three, by which a personal insurance coverage investigator (Sam Neill) appears to be like into the disappearance of a well-known horror creator and learns that his books might portend the arrival of monstrous creatures from past our actuality.

Not solely are the concepts proper out of Lovecraft, however the film oozes with allusions to the author’s work and finally ends up being as disorienting and genuinely disturbing as a few of his most well-known tales.

Event Horizon

Occasion Horizon (1997)

Whereas we are going to at all times argue that the execution of this movie was defective, which stops it from changing into a real cult traditional, we gained’t debate its central premise: a spacecraft with an experimental engine rips open a gap within the space-time continuum, plunging the ship and its crew right into a dimension that seems to be hell itself and endangering the rescue group that arrives to seek out out what occurred.

Director Paul W.S. Anderson offers some really macabre touches to an typically incoherent film, and once more the entire invasion-of-evil-from-outside-our-universe idea factors proper again to outdated H.P. and his canon.

Ron Perlman and Doug Jones in Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy

Hellboy (2004)

Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has typically cited Lovecraft as a major affect on his long-running comics starring the massive purple demon (Lovecraft’s imaginative and prescient has impacted a slew of different comics over time as nicely), and it’s no shock that Guillermo del Toro’s unique film primarily based on the books touches on that too. The movie’s Ogdru Jahad are a tackle Lovecraft’s Nice Previous Ones, whereas the film is full of references to occult data, forbidden texts, alternate realities and extra.

Del Toro’s personal direct Lovecraft adaptation, On the Mountains of Insanity, stays deserted in improvement hell, however his work right here provides us maybe a style of the way it might need seemed.

The Mist

The Mist (2007)

Stephen King has typically cited the affect of Lovecraft on his personal huge library of labor, and each the novella The Mist and Frank Darabont’s intense movie adaptation are maybe probably the most overt instance.

Whereas the premise is vaguely sci-fi — an accident at a secret authorities lab opens a portal to a different dimension, unleashing a fog containing every kind of horrifying monsters — the temper and the entities are Lovecraftian to the acute, as is Darabont’s unforgivingly bleak ending (altered from King’s extra ambiguous one).

The Cabin in The Woods

The Cabin within the Woods (2012)

Director/co-writer Drew Goddard and co-writer Joss Whedon tackle two of horror’s most criticized subgenres, the slasher movie and the torture porn film, on this sharp satire that finally ends up being a Lovecraft pastiche as nicely. The usual set-up of 5 younger, attractive pals heading to a distant cabin prematurely of being slaughtered seems to be a ritual carried out by educated technicians as a sacrifice to monstrous deities — the Historical Ones — that reside beneath the Earth’s crust. The ending — by which the survivors resolve that humanity isn’t price saving in any case — would have met the misanthropic Lovecraft’s approval.

Pennywise the Dancing Clown in It

Stephen King’s It (2017/2019)

The extra metaphysical parts of King’s gigantic 1987 novel (such because the emergence of the godlike Turtle and the journey into the Macroverse) didn’t actually make it into both this two-part theatrical model of the novel or the 1990 miniseries.

However the affect of Lovecraft continues to be felt within the title menace itself, an unimaginably historic, shape-shifting entity that may exist in a number of realities and feeds on concern and terror. The way in which that It slowly corrupts the city of Derry and its inhabitants over time has precedent as nicely in Lovecraft tales like “The Dunwich Horror” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”

The Endless

The Limitless (2017)

Indie horror auteurs Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have touched on sure Lovecraft tropes in all their movies, together with Decision and Spring, however The Limitless is maybe probably the most straight influenced by the creator. The writers/administrators additionally star within the film as two brothers who return to the cult from which they escaped as youngsters, solely to seek out it has grow to be the plaything of an unseen time-bending entity.

Genuinely eerie and extra reliant on character and story than particular results, The Limitless is an efficient instance of what a contemporary twist on the Lovecraft mythos would possibly appear like.

The Void

The Void (2017)

A small group of medical personnel, cops and sufferers grow to be trapped in a hospital after hours by an onslaught of hooded cultists and macabre creatures on this digital compendium of well-loved Lovecraft tropes and imagery. Author/administrators Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie channel an ’80s horror vibe, with all its execs (and a few cons) however the total environment is surreal and the story faucets successfully into the sense of cosmic horror.

Annihilation

Annihilation (2018)

Alex Garland’s (Devs) adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s scary novel Annihilation is good and terrifying in its personal proper, and each function unfastened rewrites/reinventions of Lovecraft’s traditional “The Color Out of House.” On this take, 4 feminine explorers are tasked with penetrating and fixing the unfold of an alien entity over a portion of the coastal U.S. that’s mutating all of the plant and animal life inside. The sense of awe and cosmic dread is powerful all through this underseen gem.

Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe in The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse (2019)

The second characteristic from visionary author/director Robert Eggers (The Witch) is extra a psychological drama than an outright horror movie — or is it? The story’s two lonely lighthouse keepers (Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe) could also be going insane or could also be coming beneath the affect of an unseen sea entity and the beam of the lighthouse itself.

With its black and white cinematography, windswept location, half-glimpsed sea creatures and sense of actuality crumbling across the edges, The Lighthouse is only a Nice Previous One away from being a real Lovecraftian nightmare.

Kristen Stewart in Underwater

Underwater (2020)

It’s laborious to imagine that this Kristen Stewart car got here out in early 2020 — given the way in which the world modified since, it looks like it got here out 5 years in the past. Though its story of staff on a deep sea drilling facility battling monsters from the deep was an excessively acquainted one, the creatures themselves have been extra uncommon than most. Director William Eubank took it a step additional by saying that the film’s climactic large monster was none apart from Cthulhu itself, the Nice Previous One sleeping beneath the ocean and namesake of Lovecraft’s total Cthulhu Mythos — which takes us again to the place we started.

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