Greetings from the Ether,
We have compiled our “Lovecraft in Film” series. Join us as we explore 100 films that, while not direct adaptations, are inspired either partially or greatly by Lovecraft’s fiction. Prepare for madness as we embark into the unknown. These films are in NO PARTICULAR ORDER. This is not a ranked list.
100. UZUMAKI (SPIRAL) (2000)
Based on the manga of the same name by Junji Ito, Uzumaki has been called “the scariest movie you’ve never seen.” The inhabitants of a small Japanese town become increasingly obsessed with and tormented by spirals. Containing the cosmic madness that Lovecraft’s fiction often portrayed, Ito has openly cited Lovecraft as an inspiration for his work. Uzumaki holds nothing back. Prepare for some astonishingly horrifying imagery.
99. CABIN IN THE WOODS (2011)
Being more a satire of the horror genre, Cabin in the Woods is now considered a modern classic. When five friends go for a retreat to a cabin, they end up discovering a dark truth concerning their own lives and the fate of the world. While the the majority of the film isn’t Lovecraftian in nature, the end is where we get our big dose of Cosmic Horror. We won’t spoil it for you, but this is definitely a film all horror hounds and Lovecraftian enthusiasts alike should see.
98. PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987)
Discovering ancient artifacts? Check. Said artifacts can lead to the end of the world? Check. Everything you could hope for in a film inspired by Lovecraft’s work. You’ll be seeing John Carpenter’s name again in this series and it’s for good reason. He had a so-called “Lovecraftian trilogy” with this film, The Thing, and In the Mouth of Madness. Prince of Darkness is definitely the most underrated, but it nonetheless contains some shocking imagery and ancient evil that we can all love.
97. CRIMSON PEAK (2015)
Now, while we understand that this is a film that was largely inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” we have to remember that Lovecraft was heavily inspired by Poe, and that director Guillermo del Toro was also pegged to direct the big-screen adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness. There’s still Lovecraftian themes in this film, concerning the despicable nature of mankind, the secretive nature of horror, and, of course, a bit of body horror. Lovecraft’s fiction was deeply inspired by Gothic ghost stories, and even with his lesser known works like the novella The Mound, which he ghostwrote, it’s not far off to say Crimson Peak took some inspiration from H.P., from the story aspect as well as from the director’s chair.
96. SLITHER (2006)
Long before Michael Rooker appeared on The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy, director James Gunn (who also directed Guardians of the Galaxy) tackled a film that is by and large a Lovecraftian love fest. You have everything you could ever ask for: cosmic entities infecting people, grotesque transformations, body horror, tentacles, you name it. Incredibly underrated film.
95. TRUE DETECTIVE (2014)
While the startling first season that sent shockwaves through all viewing communities isn’t paranormal, one could certainly be mistaken for thinking otherwise throughout the season’s epic eight episodes. We follow two detectives through several timelines as they track down a serial killer who performs cult-like mutilations on their victims. The primary antagonist is known as the Yellow King, which is a blatant homage to Robert W. Chambers’ stories that revolved around Hasthur, the King in Yellow. Chambers was perhaps Lovecraft’s greatest influence, and the mentions of Carcosa and the Yellow King, as well as the pessimistic themes revolving around humanity and its insignificance are definitely Lovecraftian, even if only through the inspiration H.P. found in Chambers’ work. There have been critics, however, of creator Nic Pizzolatto’s “copying” of themes from Chambers and especially Thomas Ligotti. This article at the Lovecraft E-Zine where Mike Davis and Jon Padgett discuss the ethics of the inspiration is quite fascinating. Yet, it is impossible to deny how impacting that first season of True Detective was, and how it opened the door to a whole new generation of purveyors to the Weird.
94. CREEPSHOW (1982)
An anthology based on the E.C. comics of the 1950s, this film has two segments particularly inspired by Lovecraft in one way or another. “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill,” which is based on a short story by Stephen King titled “Weeds,” has echoes of Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” and “The Crate” reminds us of “The Dreams in the Witch House” in certain ways, but primarily bolsters that “hidden horror” that Lovecraft was so well-known for.
93. THE RITUAL (2017)
Based on the novel by Adam Nevill, The Ritual was a smash when it debuted on Netflix. This film has many of the unique qualities that make Weird Fiction so fascinating. The ancient evil of parts unknown, the dark nature of man, occult mysteries, and the overwhelming sense of uselessness that makes all Cosmic Horror fascinating. We follow several friends as they go on a retreat in the mountains after the death of their close friend, only to find hidden horrors beyond imagining in the woodlands. We highly recommend this film, if only so you can witness the mind-bending monster design toward the end.
92. EVIL DEAD (FRANCHISE) (1981-PRESENT)
An undying franchise that has remained relevant all these decades later, who could ever forget the low budget horror smash from Sam Raimi where a group of friends go to a cabin in the woods and discover an ancient evil? The evil book they find and read from is the Necronomicon, which is a direct reference to the tome from much of Lovecraft’s fiction. Add some body horror, gore, and a sense of hopelessness, and you have yourself one helluva film.
91. UROTSUKIDOJI: LEGEND OF THE OVERFIEND (1987)
Yes, when we said film and television, we meant anime as well. Anime is an oft forgotten medium among genre fans that holds some of the most gripping storytelling out there. Legend of the Overfiend is no exception. Here we have an ancient god that is going to awaken after 3000 years to take back the world. Sound familiar? It’s definitely enough Cthulhu Mythos inspiration to pique our interest and to include it on this list. We encourage you to check it out as well!
90. HEMOGLOBIN (BLEEDERS) (1997)
With sparkles of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” Hemoglobin is definitely a film that flies below the radar. We have a man traveling to an island to meet his girlfriend’s family, discovering dark truths he wished he’d never uncovered. Check this one out even if only for the practical effects alone.
89. THE LAST WAVE (1977)
An older entry, this film contains several Lovecraftian themes, between hidden cults, end-of-the-world prophecies and premonitions, and a knack for Voodoo, which was seen heavily throughout “The Call of Cthulhu” among other stories, The Last Wave is an underappreciated gem among the older flicks. There’s a good bit of startling imagery, and for an older film, it holds up well.
88. MONSTERS (2010)
Four years before Gareth Edwards spearheaded the American Godzilla (2014), we were presented with an indie sci-fi/horror that navigated through a world ravaged by monsters. We don’t see them very often, but when we do, they are Lovecraftian as hell. Their apparent emergence from unknown regions is also an ode to Lovecraft’s works, and this is definitely a lower budget monster film that holds some unique qualities. It was successful enough to warrant a sequel, albeit one that isn’t nearly as good as the first entry.
87. MAREBITO (2004)
Perhaps the most underrated film on this first part of the series, Marebito is Lovecraftian in many ways, both directly and indirectly. We don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but we will say that there are the themes of madness, capturing otherworldly or cosmic experiences through technology, Lovecraftian visions, and even a direct reference when one of the characters mentions “mountains of madness.” This is a haunting film that warrants several viewings, if you can handle it.
86. VIDEODROME (1983)
Arguably one of David Cronenberg’s best films, Videodrome explores human nature and the evolution of mankind through technology. Both Lovecraftian themes when explored in the ways that Videodrome achieves. There are occult themes, madness, hallucinogenic experiences, body horror, everything you could ever wish for. We couldn’t recommend this film enough.
85. THE SHRINE (2010)
A film that flew under the radar, The Shrine tackles a story revolving around two journalists who are investigating mysterious disappearances in a small village. They uncover occult secrets, and we are offered a platter of horror and mysticism. Lovecraft’s affinity for the occult is well-known, and The Shrine does a great job of shining on our own curious predilections toward unknown horrors, which is what makes Cosmic Horror so damn interesting.
84. THE THING (1982)
Part of Carpenter’s “Lovecraftian trilogy,” The Thing is perhaps one of the most well-known Lovecraftian films of all time. While it was a box office failure, the horror epic has gone on to become a bonafide classic. Echoing At the Mountains of Madness, Carpenter’s The Thing follows a group of men in the Arctic discovering a horrifying entity that can shape shift and take on the likeness of other people. Brimming with paranoia and a sense of hopelessness, no other film truly captures Lovecraft’s themes as expertly as The Thing.
83. THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS (2016)
Based on the novel by Mike Carey, this film isn’t your typical zombie flick. The undead are given humanity, and what makes this film Lovecraftian is the fact that a fungus is what mutates people, and spores launched from this fungus can end the world forever. When you first see the stalks covered with remnants of people that are transformed by the fungus, you’ll have no doubt where the inspiration may have come from. More endearing and heartfelt than most films in the genre, The Girl With All the Gifts is a gem that will have you coming back again and again.
82. DARK CITY (1998)
Now resting near the top of the pyramid in regards to cult classics, Dark City went under the radar for many when it first released. The mind-bending twists and turns, amnesiac protagonist, and the overwhelmingly cosmic themes are enough to anchor this sci-fi epic to the list. If you haven’t seen this film yet, we couldn’t recommend it more.
81. THE CREATURE BELOW (2016)
While this film isn’t quite as high quality as the other entries, it definitely deserves mentioning. A diver discovers an ancient, otherworldly entity in the deep ocean and it sets forth a string of events that could lead to the end of all we know. The Cthulhu Mythos inspirations are heavy, and for that alone it earns a spot on this list.
80. UNDER THE SKIN (2013)
A film that will blow you away upon first viewing, this arthouse flick is disturbing and has that special ability to make you feel queasy but intrigued simultaneously. The cosmic essence is present, and the human inclination toward monstrous behavior is also evident throughout. Our protagonist’s indifference toward mankind is equally Lovecraftian in its own way. Under the Skin is unique in the fact that, if viewed in a Lovecraftian lens, it’s almost as if the writers and directors flip a lot of Lovecraft’s more criticized themes on their proverbial heads. Xenophobia is flipped, as we’re given the perspective of the alien, and our character’s eventual sympathy is also opposite of Lovecraft’s usual visions. Even if you have trouble sitting through the film’s slow pace, there is one scene in particular that will catch you off guard and haunt you for years to come. For those of you who have seen it, we’re sure you know exactly which scene we mean.
79. UPSTREAM COLOR (2013)
A strange film, Upstream Color contains themes of body horror, immortality, and the insignificance of human mortality. What’s even more interesting is how given immortality, the humans in question wouldn’t know how to comprehend it. This is a heartbreaking, weird ride, and Lovecraft’s influence is present throughout. From how this immortality is achieved, to the insanity it brings upon the victims (gifted?).
78. PANDORUM (2009)
Though Lovecraft didn’t really explore the regions of deep space very often, and rather homed in on places he knew (no pun intended, Providence), it can’t be denied that his themes of Cosmic Horror can be excellently expressed in deep space horror. Pandorum is like a higher budget Event Horizon, though not as good. There are themes of quantum mechanics, insanity, monstrous evolution, and more, as we unravel a terrifying mystery experienced by the few survivors of a spaceship after awakening from hypersleep.
77. GOJIRA (1954)
We feel this may be the most divisive entry on this list, but we urge you to let us explain our reasons. Lovecraft’s opening lines in “The Call of Cthulhu” speak upon the nature of our understanding the universe and what horrors it will bring when we uncover this great knowledge. Many have said, in a way, that this might have been a prediction of nuclear war, the atom bomb, etc. It’s implied that we would usher in our own apocalypse by putting together the disassociated knowledge of the universe. Gojira was a societal response to the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The kaiju rises from the aftermath and wreaks havoc, its very nature a metaphor for the destruction of those cities. Gojira is incredibly Lovecraftian in this essence. Almost directly so. Between the apocalyptic consequences of our scientific endeavors to the giant creature that was born of it, even if Gojira wasn’t “awakened” as Cthulhu was. This is why Gojira is decisively Lovecraftian, down to its very core.
76. THE HAUNTED PLACE (1963)
Based upon the poem by Edgar Allan Poe, the Lovecraftian influence lies in its use of Charles Dexter Ward’s name, played by the iconic Vincent Price. This film follows an ancient curse and the descendant who will carry on this curse on the village. While one might say it is loosely inspired by Lovecraft’s “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” H.P. is never credited, only Poe. By default, it earns a place on this list.
75. ANGEL HEART (1987)
A film that was controversial as hell when it released, Angel Heart has since gained a cult following. Telling the story of a private investigator searching for a missing man, only to uncover horrifying occult secrets, this film remains a powerhouse in the 1980s horror genre. Its Lovecraftian influence stems from the unreliable narrative, the madness which ensues for our protagonist, and the occult dealings that determine Harry Angel’s (Mickey Rourke) fate.
74. ANNIHILATION (2018)
Based on the weird novel of the same name by Jeff Vandermeer, Annihilation was a welcome surprise last year. Straying far from the source material, director Alex Garland manages to successfully embody the disorienting and often confusing atmosphere of the novel. As we follow an expedition of women traveling into “the Shimmer,” the strange horrors that await are as memorable as they are beautiful. The novel is credited for ringing in the “New Weird,” and the film will undoubtedly inspire a whole new generation of filmmakers to embark into the peculiar. Our Lovecraftian influences lie within every second of this film, as the oddness and insanity perfectly illustrate why Cosmic Horror is such an enigmatic genre.
73. AKIRA (1988)
Perhaps the most groundbreaking anime film of all time, Akira explores what would happen if an emotionally unstable and bullied child acquired the abilities of a god. Lovecraft’s whispers are present throughout as we see technology usher in apocalyptic events, body horror on full display in the climax, and the madness that entering a new state of being can unveil.
72. SILENT HILL (2006)
One of the most beloved videogame franchises of all time may have birthed two lackluster films, but the Weird Fiction vibes are constant during their runtimes. When you throw in a missing child, a strange, sleepy and desolate town, inhuman monstrosities, and an underlying mystery, you have yourself a pretty Lovecraftian premise. Though we would encourage playing the videogames over watching the films, both movies still hold some pretty mesmerizing sequences. Who could ever forget the pyramid head monster?
71. THE WICKER MAN (1973)
The mother of all Wiccan horror, the original Wicker Man was a revolutionary testament to the deep horrors Judeo-Christian societies feel toward pagan followers. While the remake is undoubtedly one of the most disappointing yet hilarious Nic Cage outings of all time, the original remains terrifying to this day. Lovecraft’s fascination with the occult and pagan deities alone warrants this film’s place on the list.
70. PONTYPOOL (2008)
Flying under the radar upon release, Pontypool has all the ingredients for a Lovecraftian experience. Strange radio transmissions, a small town being plagued by a mutating virus, body horror, innovative uses of color and grayscale, and more. We’d definitely recommend checking this out if you haven’t already.
69. DARK WATERS (1994)
What do you get when you combine a traumatized protagonist, a strange island, a religious cult, and a menacing evil? You get an underrated Lovecraftian horror fest. Dark Waters is widely underappreciated and is definitely a film for Cosmic Horror and Weird Fiction fans everywhere.
68. PROMETHEUS (2012)
When you take away the fact that Prometheus is in the Alien universe, and you remove the connotations, what you have is a very underrated and unfairly criticized film. Ridley Scott’s endeavor into this story of scientists finding mankind’s creators, or Engineers, was definitely a twist away from his usual sci-fi outings, but there are so many Lovecraftian themes in this beautiful picture. Scott himself has said Prometheus was meant to be a stand-alone film, and if we treat it as such, the quality of this movie only heightens. The insignificance of mankind, the quest for knowledge, technology being not only the downfall for humans, but also the Engineers, all these things together create what is likely the greatest Cosmic Horror film made since The Thing (1982).
67. THE HOST (2006)
The Host was a major departure from most kaiju films. We have a grounded story that feels as real as a monster movie can, and this intertwined with a touching relationship between father and daughter culminate into a dazzling picture. The creature’s nature is Lovecraftian, reminding us of Cthulhu Mythos creatures, but the heart of this film lies in its human interaction, which is a welcome departure from Lovecraft’s more criticized themes.
66. THE WITCH (2015)
Reading like a combination of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Chambers, and Lovecraft, this strikingly realistic period piece could be credited for setting the precedent for films like Annihilation, Hereditary, and others. The Witch set the stage for indie horror films and its pagan roots, sense of paranoia, and religious radicalism combine for a mortifying ride through insanity and occult consequences.
65. THE DESCENT (2005)
Likely one of the most beloved horror films of the 21st century, The Descent capitalizes on our fears of claustrophobia and finds its most horrifying aspects deep within our tendencies toward human error. The creatures that terrorize our protagonists are evolved human monsters that are confined within a deep, uncharted cave system. If that doesn’t get your Lovecraftian spider senses tingling, there’s also a lot of delving into insanity to curb your appetite.
64. GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)
Okay, hear us out. Yes, the first two acts of Ghostbusters aren’t necessarily Lovecraftian, but think about the ending. Ancient gods, demons from other dimensions, physical manifestations of thoughts, pending apocalypse by an ancient deity, you get the drift. This film’s ending is chock full of Lovecraftian themes, and we think if you rewatch it, you might find even more than we mentioned.
63. THE MIST (2007)
A Lovecraftian film before the new wave of Lovecraftian films. The Mist is based on a Stephen King story and is the perfect recipe for cosmic disaster. Another dimension crosses our own and with it, tentacled monstrosities and insect-like creatures terrify a small town as survivors find refuge in a supermarket. Add some religious fanaticism, and you couldn’t ask for more. Plus, how could anyone forget possibly the most upsetting ending ever put on film?
62. PHANTASM (1979)
It hasn’t aged well, but the Tall Man remains one of the most iconic horror film villains of all time. This film is weird, and we don’t say that lightly. Flying spheres, shrinking dead bodies, reanimating them into slaves, trippy sets, you name it. The Lovecraftian influence lies in that horrible secret and otherworldly discovery our protagonist finds when he foolishly investigates the Tall Man.
61. DIRT DAUBER (2009)
The only short film on the list, Dirt Dauber has it all: Isolated mountainous region, a religious cult, an ancient insect-like deity, and more. In 35 minutes, this film is more Lovecraftian than almost any other entry on this list.
60. WE ARE STILL HERE (2015)
With vibes like a 1970s horror film, We Are Still Here echoes “The Dreams in the Witch House” with its animate house demanding a sacrifice every 30 years. Ancient evil and disturbing sequences culminate into a truly innovative and one-of-a-kind film that honestly deserves a bigger audience than its received.
59. THE FOG (1980)
The Fog isn’t super Lovecraftian, but it still has some themes we all love. After an unearthly fog rolls into a small coastal town 100 years after a ship mysteriously sinks in its waters, all hell breaks loose. You have vengeful spirits, historical curses, and weak humans trying to survive amongst it all. Definitely worth seeing as a classic of horror let alone a slightly Lovecraftian piece.
58. THE CURSE (1987)
Definitely inspired by Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” The Curse follows a family farm after an alien meteorite lands and starts to mutate their animals and even the family themselves. Some great practical body horror and that campy cheese we all love are enough to give this film a shot.
57. NIGHTBREED (1990)
Possibly Barker’s most underrated film, Nightbreed is a journey unlike any other. With enough practical effects, bizarre creature designs, and that classic erotic horror that Barker is known for, this film is significantly different than what you may expect going in. We have two primary storylines, one of a boy becoming drawn to a mythical city with a variety of strange creatures, and another of a serial killer on a rampage. What more could you ask for?
56. EUROPA REPORT (2013)
Told from a realistic point of view, through recordings and interviews, Europa Report perfectly defines the “curiosity killed the cat” saying while maintaining Lovecraftian themes of doomed explorations and the horrors of the unknown. More sci-fi than horror, this film is still a great example of Cosmic Horror and why Lovecraft’s themes often suggested that what we don’t know can’t hurt us.
55. THE LAST WINTER (2006)
What is with Lovecraft and the cold? The Last Winter follows an expedition in the Arctic as the crew unearths ancient horror and subsequently delve into insanity and horrid fates. Not the best film on this list by any means, it still deserves a viewing.
54. A CURE FOR WELLNESS (2016)
While Gore Verbinski is best known for his Pirates of the Caribbean films, a lot of people forget his inclination toward horror. They also often forget he brought us the unforgettable American adaptation of The Ring back in 2002. In A Cure for Wellness, Verbinski goes all out with the weird. We follow a young man who investigates a wellness center that he soon suspects isn’t quite what it appears to be. While divisive critically, this film definitely had some of the most breathtaking cinematography we’ve seen.
53. OTOSHIMONO (GHOST TRAIN) (2006)
While the film appears to be a typical ghost story at first glance, its Lovecraftian themes soon reveal themselves in the ending. There are plenty of unsettling sequences for any fan or purveyor of horror, further proving Asian cinema as the immortal champion of innovative horror in film.
52. EVENT HORIZON (1997)
While a bit more biblical than anything Lovecraft would have written, one cannot deny the effectiveness of Cosmic Horror in Event Horizon. Critics despised this film when it released, but it has since developed a loyal following. Holding the distinction of being the best film Paul W. S. Anderson has ever directed (sorry, Resident Evil fans), the film follows an expedition to salvage a ship that mysteriously disappeared after its first journey. What we soon find is that it hasn’t been in our dimension during its absence, and it brought something terrible back with it. Dr. William Weir’s (Sam Neil) tunneling into insanity is thrilling to behold, and the glimpses we see of the other dimension remain some of the most stomach-curdling and upsetting sequences of the past 30 years.
51. THE VOID (2016)
A film that was funded by a Kickstarter, The Void is a love letter to 1980s horror films, Lovecraft, and Cosmic Horror. If you wrote down every Lovecraftian theme you could think of, this film would contain them all. We follow several people in a hospital as they are attacked by a cult. What soon partakes is a masterwork of practical body horror, insanity, and enough Cosmicism to quench your thirst for years to come.
50. THE RUINS (2008)
A pretty divisive film, we have a lot of Lovecraftian themes to boot. Most of them lying in the concept of an archaeological dig that uncovers an ancient evil. Definitely worth a viewing if you haven’t had the chance!
49. BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW (2010)
A visually delightful treat, Beyond the Black Rainbow follows a telepathic patient attempting to escape an institute. Looking like it came from the mind of Nicolas Winding-Refn, this film is filled with twists and turns, and a Lovecraftian center concerning mad scientists and their unlocking terrible truths through experimentation.
48. CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980)
From legendary director Lucio Fulci, we follow a reporter and a psychic as they race to close the gates of hell after a clergyman commits suicide. Filled with the director’s trademark practical effects and enough ancient evil to fill any horror hound’s appetite, this film finds its Lovecraftian influence in eldritch horror, religious fanaticism, and apocalyptic repercussions.
47. WICKED CITY (1987)
A wildly underrated film and cult classic among anime purveyors, Lovecraft fans will joyously find a lot to love here. We have two different dimensions threatening to cross together, and one of them contains Cthulhu-like monsters fixed on destroying the world.
46. CHANNEL ZERO (2016-2018)
While this anthology series definitely covers a lot of different themes and concepts, it is undeniable to state that Lovecraftian themes are consistently present. In each season, we explore different Creepy Pasta (internet urban legends), and to terrifying results. Plus, who could ever forget the tooth fairy-like creature from the first season? The saddest part in mentioning this series on the list is that Syfy just announced its cancellation after four excellent seasons.
45. ABSENTIA (2017)
Before Mike Flanagan brought us The Haunting of Hill House, there was Absentia. A film that perfectly depicts a wild descent into madness. Lovecraft’s whispers are throughout, between a seeming resurrection and just how terrifying insanity can really be. This is one of the better indie flicks on this list, and we couldn’t recommend it more.
44. SUSPIRIA (1977, 2018)
With the recent sequel, Suspiria has come back into the spotlight. A roaring, gorgeous classic from Dario Argento, this film opens a Lovecraftian can of worms pretty early on. We have hidden occult motives, a grisly string of murders, body horror, you name it. Both films are excellent in their own way and would make a perfect double-feature night for any purveyor of the weird.
43. NYARUKO: CRAWLING WITH LOVE (2012-2013)
This is a fascinating entry, as we have an anime with comedic themes that directly draws from Lovecraft. A boy is visited by Nyarlathotep in the form of a little girl and she protects him from other Lovecraftian alien-gods, like Hasthur, the King in Yellow. This is a light series with plenty of humor, and an interesting concept since the creator Manta Aisora chose to foster humor with Cosmic Horror instead of terror. Check it out!
42. THE BEYOND (2017)
A love letter to Event Horizon, this film follows astronauts after they return from an expedition through a wormhole. We have the makings of great Cosmic Horror and a deep space setting that is as terrifying as ever.
41. THE NINTH GATE (1999)
Though we’re sure just about everyone hates Roman Polanski, this film deserves mentioning. A rare book dealer searches for the last two copies of a demonic book (sound familiar?) and stumbles into a supernatural conspiracy. This film has that noir feeling that we loved in Angel Heart and a decent performance by Johnny Depp. Definitely not an all-time great, but worth a viewing for Lovecraft fans.
40. CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984)
The film that traumatized generations. When will Stephen King stop making children horrifying? Lovecraft’s small town horror themes are present, and the cult of evil children who terrorize adults is excellently portrayed. We have cults, pagan-like rituals, and the darker nature of mankind all on display. Not to mention a young Linda Hamilton! This actually released the same year as The Terminator. Between the two, I’m sure we know which was more successful, but Children of the Corn will always remain a testament to how screwed up children really can be in horror.
39. LORD OF ILLUSIONS (1995)
A trippy, maddening ride, Lord of Illusions follows a private investigator as he stumbles upon a fanatic cult looking to resurrect their leader. There’s all the makings of a Lovecraftian horror fest in this one, with the cheese of 90s horror we all love. The practical effects are pretty great, and the surreal, mind-bending sequences have surprisingly aged pretty well. Did we mention it’s a Clive Barker film?
38. A QUIET PLACE (2018)
This film blew the collective minds of audiences in 2018. A picture that truly finds its foundations in the relationships of its lead family, A Quiet Place is excellent in a way most horror films aren’t: it has an original concept. At least, original in regards to its competition. The Lovecraftian aspects are found in the creatures who suddenly appeared and nearly wiped out mankind. Their origins are definitely cosmic, as we have no idea where they came from. Try your hardest to think of another film that actually succeeded in keeping theater audiences quiet. We’ll wait.
37. HELLRAISER (1987)
Ah, yes. Clive Barker’s most memorable contribution to horror film. Hellraiser is like if Lovecraft wrote a horror erotica. Barker is known for his sexual themes, and Hellraiser takes that to a new level. The sexuality lies in pain and suffering, which is disturbing as hell. The body horror is some of the best ever put on film, and still to this day it is breathtaking and stomach-churning to see. Pinhead may be the shining star in this film, but the sadistic relationship between Frank and Julia remains as haunting as ever. How much closer to Lovecraft could you be with a puzzle that, when solved, unlocks a dimension of pure blasphemy?
36. THE NEW DAUGHTER (2009)
A sleeper in 2009, The New Daughter sees Kevin Costner take on one of the only horror films of his career. A single father watches his daughter act stranger and stranger, while he learns their house is built on an Indian burial ground, among other mysteries. Not uniquely Lovecraftian, this film still retains some of the themes H. P. explored, such as ancient evil, upsetting the dead, curses, etc.
35. THE FLY (1958, 1986)
Perhaps the king of all body horror films, Cronenberg’s The Fly is legendary, and deservedly so. We see Seth Brundle, a brilliant scientist who is experimenting with a mechanism that can teleport objects and maybe even people. He uses it on himself, but neglects to see that a single fly has landed in one of the stations, combining his DNA with the insect. This film contains one of the most horrifying, putrid transformations ever put on film. The original 1958 film had a stellar performance from Vincent Price, and the Lovecraftian themes of technology unlocking horrible events, gruesome transformations, and mankind’s inability to understand their naivety, are all present throughout both films. Bring a puke bag for this one. It’s absolutely disgusting, in the best of ways!
34. SPRING (2014)
While a comedic anime with Lovecraftian themes is absurd, imagine a romance! Spring is an indie picture from Lovecraftian champion directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, that follows a man who meets a lovely woman and engages in a relationship with her only to discover she may not actually be human. This film is excellent in many ways, and its ability to retain Lovecraftian concepts while depicting a believable romance is unparalleled by any other horror film. These directors are talented beyond imagining, and you’ll see in the final part of this list a film from them that topped even Spring.
33. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956, 1978)
Talk about a classic. This picture says it all. When you have Leonard Nimoy, Donald Sutherland, and Jeff Goldblum all together in one shot for a horror film, you know it’s going to be one helluva journey. This film perfectly encapsulates paranoia with a Lovecraftian twist, as we watch a group of people who realize the human race is being taken over by aliens that can imitate other people, albeit replacing them with emotionless, identical husks. Who could ever forget the ending scene, and that awful, unforgettable scream.
32. STRANGER THINGS (2016-)
One of the most obvious entries on this list, Stranger Things has become a cultural phenomenon. We follow a band of geeky kids who uncover a government conspiracy after they encounter a strange girl who just escaped from a laboratory. We have all the makings of a Lovecraftian love letter, from tentacled god-like entities, scientific experiments that usher in apocalyptic events, a different dimension known as “the Upside Down,” and a method of communicating through to this other dimension via technology. Hands down the most critically successful series on this list, we recommend any readers who haven’t watched this show to schedule a binge on their next day off.
31. BANSHEE CHAPTER (2013)
There are a lot of underrated films on this list. Banshee Chapter is undoubtedly the highest in quality among these. A homage to H. P. Lovecraft’s “From Beyond,” we follow a journalist investigating disappearances, an experimental chemical, and a strange radio transmission. This film perfectly captures isolation and the paranoia it can bring. The desolate locale and the maddening journey through these freaky events is enough to earn its spot among some of the most Lovecraftian films of all time.
30. MIMIC (1997)
Long before Guillermo Del Toro brought us The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, he gave us this cheesy horror flick about mutated insects that evolve into giant creatures hellbent on wiping out mankind. This film may not be one of the best, but it certainly knows how to make us feel filthy. There are some good scares and gory scenes, but its the Lovecraftian concept of science creating evil abominations that puts it on the list.
29. JACOB’S LADDER (1990)
Adrian Lyne was hot off the success of Fatal Attraction when this film released. It was a decidedly massive departure from his previous effort, and while it wasn’t as successful as it should’ve been, there is no doubt Jacob’s Ladder has gone on to become the archetype of psychological horror films with a supernatural bent. The Lovecraftian themes of madness and the supernatural nature of death are pretty spot on, but more than anything, this film transcends the inspirations it may have had from H. P. It’s definitely among the best psychological horror films of all time, and at its core, we have an emotional story of salvation and acceptance. This film actually went on to inspire the Silent Hill franchise, if you needed proof of its legacy. There are some dreadfully morose scenes and groundbreaking effects (check out the “demonic head shake“) in play here. Do we even have to mention the hospital scene?
28. IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (1994)
This is definitely the most overtly Lovecraftian film on the list, and the third of John Carpenter’s “Lovecraftian trilogy.” We follow a man investigating the effects a horror author’s books are having on the general public, only to uncover terrifying truths that may lead to the end of the world. There are so many Lovecraft callbacks throughout this film, from the covers of Sutter Cane’s books to the Pickman Hotel where our protagonist stays. There are inter-dimensional gateways, ancient evils, tentacled-monsters, cult-like gatherings, small town horror, body horror, everything you fiends could ever ask for. We imagine most of you have seen this film, but if you haven’t, now’s the time to give it a viewing.
27. ALTERED STATES (1980)
A widely overlooked film, Altered States follows a college professor as he embarks on a mission to transcend human consciousness. Far beyond its time, this film has some remarkably insightful concepts. Our protagonist engages in a variety of activities to achieve his end goal, from taking Native American drugs to locking himself up in a sense-deprivation tank (while doing more drugs). The hallucinations are terrifying, and the implications of what happens when he starts to unravel the genetic code of his own DNA are utterly mind-boggling. This is one film we’d die to see a great remake of, and Lovecraft would be proud of its story, considering it explores the dangers of unlocking the human consciousness’s potential.
26. BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE (2014)
Black Mountain Side has those classical Lovecraft themes we all love: archaeologists discovering a strange structure, mountainous settings, ancient evils terrorizing the poor human characters, what more could you ask for? While an overlooked indie film, this picture definitely deserves a spot on the list.
25. THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN (2014)
Talk about a sleeper hit. Probably the only found footage film that is criminally underrated, The Taking of Deborah Logan follows college students as they film a documentary on the effects of dementia. The eponymous patient in question, Deborah Logan, begins to exhibit far stranger behavior than typical dementia, and we quickly descend into madness with her, only this is a madness of the occult kind. Lovecraft’s voice is found in the ending, where we finally discover what exactly is happening. And it is shocking.
24. THE CITY OF THE DEAD (1960)
A student uses her winter break to research witchcraft in a sleepy Massachusetts town. What could go wrong? Well, a lot. One of the older films on the list, this 1960s romp finds its Lovecraftian themes in its use of small town horror, occult rituals, and, of course, sacrifice! Definitely worth a viewing.
23. THE SPIDER LABYRINTH (1988)
Incredibly underrated, this Italian horror film follows an American researcher who travels to Budapest to meet an old pal. Throw in an ancient, evil tome, and you have yourself a Lovecraftian horror flick. Reality bends and folds throughout, and there’s a lot of great horrific imagery. Definitely worth seeing if you haven’t had the chance and/or haven’t heard of it.
22. CLOVERFIELD (2008)
Who could ever forget the initial viral trailers for this J. J. Abrams blockbuster? Here we follow a group of young people as they record an apocalyptic event in New York. There are many unforgettable scenes in this film, from the tunnel scene, to the decapitated Statue of Liberty. But the Lovecraftian themes lie in the monsters themselves, their unknown origins, and the little hints and clues we get throughout that point to this atrocity possibly being man-made.
21. YELLOWBRICKROAD (2010)
An entire village population disappears after taking a winding mountain trail. Some 70 years later, a group of people travel there to find out why. Definitely cliche, but there are a lot of Lovecraftian themes in this film. Most of which can be found in the twist of an ending. A lot of audiences found the twist to be distracting and an unwelcome departure from the rest of the film, but we’ll let you decide.
20. CAST A DEADLY SPELL (1991)
The only TV movie on the list, this film follows a detective as he navigates through an alternate 1940s world where everyone uses magic. His task? Investigating the theft of a mystical tome. Even though it’s R-rated, this is definitely a cheesy comedy. The Lovecraftian themes involve the tome he’s searching for, and some of the darker sides of the film as the mystery unravels.
19. THE CORRIDOR (2010)
Teens partying in the woods. They get lost. Bad stuff happens. Yeah, yeah, we’ve seen it all before. But what makes this cinematic experience different is how it’s this “corridor” that is causing all the madness and insanity. In a very Lovecraftian twist, it’s not some yeti or reptilian creature terrorizing them, but rather an unexplainable, cosmic presence that is as powerful as it is deadly.
18. POSSESSION (1981)
A man’s wife asks for a divorce. He suspects infidelity. As her behavior become stranger and stranger, a deeper mystery unravels. This film is a classic, no arguments. Containing one of the most beautiful, disturbing, and powerful sequences ever put on film, there isn’t any doubt why it’s regarded so highly. We find our Lovecraftian influences in the ending, where plenty of tentacles await.
17. HELLBOY (2004)
With the new remake coming out this year, it may be a good time to watch the first two films if you haven’t. Hellboy is special in its inclusion due to it being the only superhero flick on the list. The first film definitely had way more Lovecraftian vibes then the second, with ancient gods, tentacled creatures, apocalyptic events, etc. While the effects haven’t aged dramatically well, this film is definitely worth watching. Classic popcorn action.
16. MIRRORS (MARIANNE) (1978)
Perhaps the least known film on the list, Mirrors follows a couple as they stay at a hotel, only to have a Voodoo priestess place a curse on it. You have your Lovecraftian mind-bending madness, with a good bit of old-fashioned Voodoo horror.
15. PHANTOMS (1998)
Based on a Dean Koontz novel, this film explores a strange event in a tiny mountain town after hundreds of people either die or go missing. Not the best film on the list, Phantoms still has a lot of Lovecraftian undertones. There’s an interesting mystery and a good bit of old-fashioned body horror.
14. ALIEN FRANCHISE (1979-)
What is left to be said about this legendary film? Originally panned by critics, Alien has gone on to become one of the most iconic sci-fi/horror films of all time. The very fabric of this film’s skeleton is a cosmic feast. We follow the crew of a ship as they investigate a distress call, only to discover a dangerous extra-terrestrial that may just spell death for the entire crew and possibly all of humanity. The Lovecraftian themes lie in the presence of a cosmic entity being horrid, while some find fascination with it (similar to the Cthulhu cultists), and the sexual undertones of the xenomorph’s design. While the alien isn’t godlike, it is definitely a far superior organism to the humans. With countless iconic scenes, this Ridley Scott film will always remain relevant.
13. THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN (2008)
Based on a Clive Barker story, Midnight Meat Train follows a photographer as he seeks darker and darker material. What seems at first to be a serial killer on a train soon transforms into something otherworldly. The majority of this film isn’t Lovecraftian, but man, oh, man, does the ending ever compensate for that.
12. IT (1990, 2017)
Definitely the most Lovecraftian work from Stephen King other than Revival, IT follows a group of kids all the way through adulthood as they try to put an end to a cosmic entity that terrorizes a town every 30 or so years. Readers of the book will know just how Lovecraftian this tale is. The origins of Pennywise and how he came to Earth, the true nature of his physical form, the Dead Lights, and his monstrous, godlike presence are all enough to satisfy any purveyor of the weird. The 1990 miniseries with Tim Curry in the lead is classic, Curry’s performance standout, but we have to give it to the 2017 film due it truly capturing the relationships of our ragtag group of friends, and due to the miniseries not aging very well. All in all, a marathon couldn’t hurt.
11. THE BLOB (1958, 1988)
Perhaps one of the earliest examples of Cosmic Horror reaching mainstream audiences through film, The Blob follows a town after a meteorite lands that oozes a gooey substance which ends up devouring each person it comes across. As it eats more and more people, it grows larger and larger. The 1988 remake is definitely a class act, with some spectacular effects. A lot of Lovecraftian themes come into play, with the plot itself mirroring “The Colour Out of Space.” The Blob is a classic, and rightfully so.
10. AM1200 (2008)
Okay, we lied. There are two short films on this list. AM1200 has a lot of themes we saw in Banshee Chapter, with a strange radio frequency, some great Cosmic Horror interlaced throughout, and thoughtful philosophies on our place in the universe. At only 39 minutes, this film shouldn’t go unseen for fans of Lovecraft.
9. KILL LIST (2011)
A violent, bloody picture, Kill List is one of those films that likely didn’t garner the attention it deserved. We follow two hit men on a mission for a big score as they stumble into something dark and occult. While the first two acts are just brutal violence with two less-than favorable protagonists, the last act is complete insanity. Who could ever forget that final ritual scene? Gives us chills even thinking of it. Our Lovecraftian voice comes through the occult themes and the descent into madness during the ritual.
8. HEREDITARY (2018)
What is likely going to become an all-time classic in horror, Hereditary is one of the most unique and stunning films to come out in the past 20 years. Our story begins with the funeral of Annie’s (Toni Collette) mother, and from there on out, it is a rapidly paced descent into insanity. Enough can’t be said about Collette’s performance here, coming off so real we couldn’t be remiss to think we’re actually watching the process of her losing her mind on camera. The ending is what really sticks out as Lovecraftian, with enough pagan deities, off-the-wall body horror, and disturbing madness to satiate anyone’s hunger for weird.
7. KAIRO (PULSE) (2001)
A commentary on mankind’s dependency on technology, Kairo is a slow-burning, creepy horror film that follows two groups of people as they discover otherworldly entities using the internet to invade our world. This is an original premise, with some fantastic scenes that dread the viewer. We needn’t mention the atrocious remake. Doing so would be shaming this classic of Asian horror cinema. Our Lovecraftian themes lie in the use of technology to bring upon the end of the word, inter-dimensional entities with nefarious intentions, and the uselessness of mankind’s efforts to stop it.
6. THE ENDLESS (2017)
Remember us mentioning how Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson would appear again on this list? Yeah, this is the film that tops Spring, their previous effort. These two directors are the Lovecraftian duo in cinema, and The Endless cemented their reputation. We follow two brothers who escaped from a UFO death cult when they were children, as they are drawn back to the compound. This film does so much with a limited budget, and the cosmic sequences are breathtaking. As our plot unravels, and the explosive ending comes, we are already strapped to our seats. If anyone was ever looking for a film that truly captured the weird essence of Lovecraft’s fiction, this would be the film we’d recommend.
5. BIRD BOX (2018)
A cultural phenomenon, Bird Box is based on the novel of the same name by Josh Malerman. We follow a pregnant woman as the world ends and she traverses the apocalyptic landscape with two children (one is her son). The catch? You die if you see the creatures responsible. There’s plenty of Lovecraftian whispers in this film, from the madness these entities cause, how seeing them is too much for the mind to comprehend, and how the mentally ill are somehow capable of functioning after seeing the cosmic entities. Definitely a film worth seeing, and we couldn’t be happier to see it on this list.
4. FINAL PRAYER (THE BORDERLANDS) (2013)
A film that was sadly seen by few, Final Prayer follows Vatican investigators on a case that soon takes an occult turn. There are a lot of good jump scares here, and some truly riveting sequences. The Lovecraftian themes lie in the occult tones, the madness our characters experience, and the mind-bending events they experience.
3. THE BURROWERS (2008)
Equal parts Tremors and Roanoke, this film follows a crew of men as they investigate the disappearance of settlers that have mysteriously vanished from their homes. The Lovecraftian themes are light, but they’re still present. We don’t want to spoil too much, but this film definitely hits the mark on themes of small town horror and unexplained phenomena with a bit of monstrous creatures to boot.
2. PITCH BLACK (2000)
One of the best sci-fi/horror films in recent memory, Pitch Black follows a commercial transport that crashes on a world where a month long eclipse takes place, and with it, monstrous creatures awaken. There are many Lovecraftian themes in this hit, including the use of senses (in this case, sight) to nurture horror, alien creatures that could almost be considered “tentacled,” and the use of cosmic nature being more than enough to wipe out humans. The strange nature of the planet itself is also Lovecraftian, the de-familiarization of sunlight and the exploitation of our fear of the dark.
1. INSIDIOUS FRANCHISE (2010-)
Everything about Insidious is Lovecraftian. Echoing “Beyond the Wall of Sleep,” we have a child who astral projects into another dimension known as “the Further,” and when he leaves his body, supernatural entities want to take over his vessel to live again. This film is from James Wan (director of The Conjuring), and has a very special tone to it that pays homage to classic horror from the 60s and 70s. The jump scares are exceptional in that they’re earned rather than forced, and the premise is one of the most original we’ve ever seen. As of this article, there are four Insidious films in the franchise, and a binge would make you keep the lights on for nights to come.
Do you agree with our list? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.
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