Horror movies. I love em, you love em. They’re like ice cream–everybody loves em. But man, there aren’t enough good, and I stress good here, Lovecraftian movies. There’s a wealth of articles on the net attempting to explain why that is, and none of them get very far. If you want to be charitable to the old gentleman of Providence, you might say his stories are too complex, too detailed, too intellectual. Or it might be that he didn’t care a lick about characters, couldn’t write a female character to save his life, and didn’t spend too terribly much time with plot. Thus, movies based on Lovecraft’s stories tend to be more in the vein of “based on” than “a faithful retelling of.” Still, if you look hard enough, there are some gems out there. Here, I present a few.
Movies Based on Lovecraft Stories
No list would be complete without this cult-classic. Directed by Stuart Gordon and staring Jeffrey Combs, Re-Animator takes the almost throw away work of Lovecraft that S. T. Joshi claims is his worst and turns it into a masterpiece (In defense of the story, although we can knock “Herbert West: Reanimator”, it did give us Miskatonic University and perhaps the first example of reanimated corpses as zombies). Not surprisingly, Stuart Gordon will appear several times on this list. Also note: if you want to read contemporary horror based on Lovecraft’s work, check out Pete Rawlik’s Reanimators series.
Stuart Gordon also directed this ambitious, if not altogether successful, adaptation of the Lovecraft Story…”The Shadow Over Innsmith”. You thought I’d say “Dagon”, didn’t you? I know, confusing.
But fear not, Dagon may be the most true to the story, full-length Lovecraftian film ever made. And it introduces us to Ezra Godden, who played the lead role in our next selection.
Briefly–far too briefly for my tastes–Showtime had a series called Masters of Horror. And it lived up to its name, featuring horror shorts by some of the most famous names in the genre. And one of those names was Stuart Gordon. So wouldn’t you know, he used his opportunity to bring another Lovecraftian story to the screen–“The Dreams in the Witch House.” Ezra Godden stars as Walter Gilman, the student of theoretical mathematics who finds more in his rented apartment than he expected. All in all, this is an excellent telling of one of my favorite Lovecraft stories.
I’ll go out on a limb and say you’ve heard of the first three movies on this list. I’ll go on another limb and say you’ve never heard of this one. And that’s too bad, because this is one of my favorites. Including performances by David Warner (!) and John Rhys-Davies (!!), this is the sequel to the forgettable The Unnamable, a pretty typical monster flick that does little to put the source material to good use. Not so, here. This B-movie is a love letter to Lovecraft, and if you can get your hands on it, I think you’ll enjoy it.
Bonus: A Movie Inspired by Lovecraft
I love this movie, and the plot is straight Lovecraft, even if he didn’t write it. Sam Neill is on the trail of a recluse horror novelist whose writing has quite the affect on his readers. As in, it drives them insane. Jürgen Prochnow and Charlton Heston make an appearance, as does a very young Hayden Christensen. This movie also boasts one of the best catch phrases you’ll ever find: do you read Sutter Cane?