10 Best Lovecraft Film Adaptations, Ranked
The cancellation of Lovecraft Country, which adapted the works of HP Lovecraft into a new horror story, saddened fans of the HBO series. The famed horror author’s influence continues to show in films like Submarine and The violation. These films explore Lovecraftian themes, giant elder gods, and horrors from other dimensions.
Of course, there have been quite a few direct film adaptations of HP Lovecraft’s various works. Some movies failed to capture the scope of the stories. Fortunately, a few other adaptations like Resuscitator and color out of space put their own spin on classic horror stories that captivated new audiences and old fans alike.
10/10 Necronomicon featured loose adaptations of three different Lovecraft stories
1993 Necronomicon was an anthology film based on the works of HP Lovecraft. However, the film also featured Lovecraft as a character tracking down the ancient Book of the Dead, the titular Necronomicon. Lovecraft’s tale frames the anthology which adapts and alters three of the famous horror author’s stories.
“The Drowned” used elements from 1924’s “The Rats in the Walls”, although the original story about generational cannibalism is far more gruesome. “The Cold” loosely adapted 1928’s “Cool Air” about the extremes some go to to stave off death. Finally, loosely adapted “Whispers” The Whisperer in the Darkness novel, but removed the classic living-brain aspect of the story.
9/10 Students in a haunted house face a cursed horror in the unspeakable
1988 the nameless adapted the 1925 short story of the same name, though it updated the story slightly. College students decide to spend a night in a haunted house, where they become the target of an ancient and powerful monster whose terrifying traits make it unspeakable. While some may think the horror movie was ruined by the monster, it still has a huge fan base.
The adaptation took great liberties with the monster and developed a backstory that added a cursed element to the story. the nameless introduced the recurring character of Randolph Carter and proved successful enough with fans to warrant a sequel. The Unspeakable Returns tooused elements of Lovecraft’s “The Statement of Randolph Carter”.
8/10 Castle Freak was inspired by HP Lovecraft’s short story “The Outsider”
While the years 1995 castle monster wasn’t originally a Lovecraft adaptation, the short story of “The Outsider” inspired director Stuart Gordon when he took over the film. Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton have returned for another horror collab with Gordon. The film followed a family who inherited an old castle only to discover a monstrous creature living inside the dungeons.
The former owners of the castle tortured and brutalized the deformed man all his life. He began to terrorize and kill new visitors to the castle after escaping from his imprisonment. “The Outsider” was a bit different as it was told from the perspective of the deformed escaped captive. castle monster reinvented the sympathetic creature as a rampaging murderous monster.
7/10 The Haunted Palace and the Risen adapted the same Lovecraft story
The case of Charles Dexter Ward was a short story published in 1941, a few years after Lovecraft’s death. It has been adapted several times over the years, but rarely under the original name. Charles Dexter Ward’s investigation of his ancestor results in the rebirth of the powerful necromancer which also results in the return of an ancient and powerful entity.
Roger Corman directed a version of the story which was published as Edgar Allen Poe’s The haunted palace and played Vincent Price. 1992 direct-to-video release of The Risen One also suitable The case of Charles Dexter Ward. The film featured high special effects that set it apart from other Lovecraftian adaptations.
6/10 2001’s Dagon was actually an adaptation of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”
Dagon followed a Spanish group as they washed up in a small fishing village. They soon discovered that the fishing village worshiped an ancient sea god known as Dagon. They had mated with the aquatic deity for years to become human/fish hybrids who sacrificed anyone unlikely enough to visit their island.
While HP Lovecraft wrote a story called “Dagon”, the 2001 film of the same name actually adapted the novel “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”. The storyline is part of Lovecraft’s larger Cthulhu mythos and features many connections between the two written works. It was a frantic take on the classic story that became a cult favorite with Lovecraft fans.
5/10 The Dunwich Horror was a low-budget adaptation of the 1928 short story
Roger Corman executive produced the 1970s The Dunwich Horror, directed by Daniel Haller. Former child star Sandra Dee played a college student who becomes the target of an ancient cult. They plan to use it in a sacrificial ritual from the evil book of the dead known as Necronomicon to bring back the “Elders”.
The Dunwich Horror is one of the most faithful adaptations to the source material that respects both the original period and the details of the story. The adaptation’s psychedelic imagery adds to the moody, atmospheric tone. The Dunwich Horror is an underrated hit for fans of Lovecraft’s works who also love great horror movie endings.
4/10 Nicolas Cage starred in Richard Stanley’s 2019 adaptation of Color Out of Space
Material director Richard Stanley returned to the horror genre in 2019 with Color out of space. The film starred Nicolas Cage and was a modern adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s famous 1927 story “The Color Out of Space”. The adaptation follows the investigation of a meteorite that crashed into a farmhouse and began manipulating everyone in the area.
The adaptation updated the classic story with a beautifully vibrant take on the alien essence slowly taking over Nicolas Cage and his family. The cosmic infection gave fans a terrifying glimpse of Lovecraftian alien monsters. This adaptation stands out from other takes on the story as Die, monster, die! And The curse due to the emphasis on the titular color.
3/10 Beyond terrified audiences with a look into a paradimensional realm
Director Stuart Gordon has found his Resuscitator stars for an adaptation of Lovecraft’s 1934 short story, From beyond. A scientist and his assistant created a device that allowed them to tap into a paradimensional realm of existence. The infernal plane took control of the scientist and began to transform him into a monstrous creature.
From beyond was just a loose adaptation of the original short story. However, the horror film’s exploration of the alternate dimension has captivated fans of the genre. Combs further cemented her role as a Lovecraftian cinematic figure while scream queen Barbara Crampton also added to her own impressive horror legend.
2/10 The Call of Cthulhu is a modern love letter to the silent film era of the 1920s
One of Lovecraft’s best known stories is “The Call of Cthulhu”. It introduced the titular Eldritch Old God and the ancient sunken city of R’lyeh that would feature in other Lovecraftian tales. The story was long considered unfilmable, although it was adapted in 2005 as an independent silent film distributed by the HP Lovecraft Historical Society.
The adaptation used the mythoscope technique to simulate a 1920s silent film that managed to capture the precise setting of the original story. The narrator’s investigation of his deceased grandfather’s notes leads him down the path of an ancient and powerful being who has begun a descent into madness. The news also inspired a successful adaptation of the Lovecraft video game.
1/10 Stuart Gordon’s Reanimator is one of Lovecraft’s best-known adaptations
Jeffrey Combs made a name for himself in the Lovecraft adaptations, although one of his best roles was as Dr. Herbert West in director Stuart Gordon. Resuscitator. West has discovered a serum capable of bringing the dead back to life. However, they return as enraged, mindless monsters. The reanimated Dr. Carl Hill soon discovered that he could exert mind control over the undead.
Gordon specialized in focusing on specific details from Lovecraft’s stories and reworking them for the horror movie genre. Resuscitator added a dark, comedic tone that helped make the film a cult hit. Combs would return as Dr. West in two direct-to-video sequels that further underscore the success of the 1985 adaptation.
NEXT: 10 Best HP Lovecraft-Based Board Games, Ranked