The Horror Honeys: 5 Essential H.P. Lovecraft Films

5 Essential H.P. Lovecraft Films

A Head Honey Contribution

Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme
Howard Phillips "H. P." Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American author who only achieved fame after his death through his influential works of horror fiction. Virtually unknown and only published in "pulp" magazines before he died in poverty, he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in his genre and inspired a genre of films, a thriving mythos, and some serious artistic obsession.

"the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale." - Stephen King on Lovecraft

Lovecraft's horror writing provided the 20th Century some of it's most enduring, and terrifying, subjects. The enduring theme of Lovecraft's work is that of curiosity or the search for knowledge. But as we all know - curiosity killed the cat - or maybe summoned some elder gods...

Below are a list of a few Lovecraftian films that you shouldn't pass by.

The Call of Cthulhu (2005) - A modern take on silent film processes, The Call of Cthulhu is easy to pass by or overlook because it's presented in a faithful silent film style. While organizing the affairs of his late Uncle, a man accidentally stumbles across a series of clues that lead him toward an ancient horror lurking beneath the sea, waiting for the time when the "Stars are Right" and it shall be free to wreck havoc upon mankind. Sanity-shattering horror, 20's style pantomime and set decoration, and all the Cthulhu you can handle.

"the secrets of the Necronomicon do not come cheaply, and it will cost your life."

Necronomicon: To Hell and Back (1993) - A horror anthology that features Jeffrey Combs in a wraparound story that has H.P. Lovecraft himself (Combs) reading stories from the Necronomicon - those stories come to life as three short films based on Lovecraft's short story work. The Drowned is based on The Rats in the Walls, The Cold is based on Cool Air, and Whispers is based on The Whisperer in Darkness.

In The Mouth of Madness (1994) - A John Carpenter classic featuring one of my favorite actors, Sam Neill, In The Mouth of Madness is the third instalment in Carpenter's "Apocalypse Trilogy" which included The Thing and Prince of Darkness. The film pays tribute to Lovecraft, with many references to his stories and themes. Its title is a play on two of Lovecraft's tales, The Shadow Over Innsmouth and At the Mountains of Madness, and insanity plays as great a role in the film as it does in Lovecraft's fiction. The opening scene depicts Trent's confinement to an asylum with the bulk of the story told in flashback, a common technique of Lovecraft's. In In The Mouth Of Madness, an insurance investigator (Neill) begins discovering that the impact a horror writer's books have on his fans is more than inspirational - it's brainwashing. Also keep an eye out for Guillermo del Toro's version of At the Mountains of Madness - he keeps teasing it, so hopefully it'll happen...and not through a PG-13 lens.

"Once you wake up the dead, you have a real mess on your hands..."

Re-Animator (1985) - Starring Jeffrey Combs as the maddest medical student of them all, Re-Animator tells the story of a dedicated student at a medical college and his girlfriend, who become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue when an odd new student arrives on campus. Featuring a stomach churning rape scene, some intense gore, and crazy radioactive goo, Re-Animator is a cult horror comedy classic inspired by Lovecraft's "Herbert West: Re-Animator." Several sequels, a musical, and a porn parody followed the release of Re-Animator and it's horror community love continues.

Dagon (2001) - One of my favorite Lovecraftian film adaptations (mostly because I kind of want to be a fish), Dagon is based on the short story "A Shadow Over Innsmouth." A freak boating accident runs a young man and woman ashore in a decrepit Spanish fishing town which they discover is under the thrall of the cult of an ancient sea god, Dagon. Directed by Stuart Gordon (who also directed Re-Animator), Dagon is dark and tense, and combines images of decaying humanity, with fanatical religious zeal, and the ending always makes me smile in a creepy way. *Pro-tip: The FULL movie is available on YouTube, so don't be shy - go fall under Uxia's spell. 

Many horror fans consider Lovecraft's works (film and written) to be pillars of any good horror collection - how many of these films have YOU seen?

Sean Phillips