Top 10 H.P. Lovecraft Horror Movies!

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

Here’s one for ya: what’s your favorite HP Lovecraft story? Now, what’s your favorite horror movie based on a Lovecraft tale of terror? Is your answer one in the same?!

Well, we ask because just yesterday the killer news dropped that the team behind last year’s Top 10 horror flick MANDY, including papa Nic Cage, are reuniting to bring Lovecraft’s venerated short story THE COLOR OF SPACE to the big-screen (a la THE CURSE). F*ck yes! As soon as the news dropped, our minds instantly thought about all the various Lovecraftian adaptations that have graced the big and small screen over the years. Oddly, many short films and episodic one-offs based on Lovecraft’s stories exist, be they a single chapter in Charles Band’s anthological horror PULSE POUNDERS (1988), or in the great Stuart Gordon’s standout episode of Masters of Horror, DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE. Other honorable mentions extend to Joseph Dougherty’s tongue-in-cheek made-for-TV adaptations CAST A DEADLY SPELL and WITCH HUNT (1994). In the end though, here are our Top 10 Favorite HP Lovecraft Horror Films!

#10. THE UNNAMABLE (1988) 

A few years ago, during one of our exhaustive annual 31 days of October, I stumbled so deep down the rabbit-hole of low-budget 80s obscurity that I ended up face to face with the surprisingly effective THE UNNAMABLE, a macabre mutation of demented delight! Based on Lovecraft’s short story of the same name, director Jean-Paul Ouellette (who shot second unit for Cameron on THE TERMINATOR) injects a raw ferocity into an ultra-gory creature-feature that plays to both a modern sensibility as well as a period-set tableau. The story finds a hideous creature born in the 1800s, so revolting that no one dare give it a name. Dubbed the unnamable, he creature lies dormant for almost two centuries, until a passel of unsuspecting teens reawaken the beast and sate its unquenchable bloodlust. Ouellette also helmed THE UNNAMABLE II: THE STATEMENT OF RANDOLPH CARTER, which adapts another Lovecraft tale with equal aplomb! GET HERE


Also known as DIE, MONSTER, DIE!, MONSTER OF TERROR is the first of two Lovecraft adaptations helmed by director Daniel Haller (the other being THE DUNWICH HORROR in 1970, which almost made the list). In this slightly superior iteration, Haller gives direction in his feature debut to the kingly horror veteran Boris Karloff in an adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Color of Space. With a decidedly sci-fi bent, the story entails a man learning that his fiancé’s father has secretly discovered a crashed meteorite that has begun to mutate the plants into gargantuan forces of evil. Karloff plays the creepy wheelchair-bound madman reluctant to raze his supernatural findings. The flick was released by AIP as a double-bill with Mario Bava’s PLANET OF THE VAMIRES, and has the rare distinction of being converted to CinemaScope (a predecessor to super 35mm). GET HERE


Based on the Lovecraft short tale of the same title, THE SHUTTERED ROOM is perhaps the most obscure of all HP adaptations. Indeed, the micro-budgeted British horror flick from director David Greene deserved more eyeballs, especially those belonging to ardent Lovecraft acolytes and completists of the man’s cinematic appropriations. The setup here is beautiful, and only outdone by Greene’s exquisite execution, as the story showcases a spate of grisly murders that is traced to a mysterious creature dwelling in an extremely bizarre house located in an abandoned mill on a remote island. The ever-sleazy Oliver Reed stars alongside Gig Young, but the story really belongs to Carol Lynley’s character, Susannah, whose parents are murdered by the mysterious beast as a child. Intent to overcome her scars, she urges her hubby to return to the mill as adults, where an abject skein of scarifying slaughter follows suit! GET HERE


In his only directorial feature, Richard Blackburn (who co-wrote EATING RAOUL and directed the “Miss May Dusa” episode of Tales from the Darkside) left quite an impression with the unspeakable 70s skin-crawler LEMORA, a tale of vile vampirism. Loosely based on Lovecraft’s short story Shadow Over Innsmouth, the story follows young Lila Lee (Cheryl Smith), the virginal daughter of a murderous gangster, who runs away and is taken in by a twisted minister. After fleeing his lecherous grasp, Lila seeks help from Lemora (Lesley Gilb), an enigmatic vamp who promises to protect Lila from a horde of undead ghouls plaguing the small southern town. Straight up, this is possibly the scariest PG-rated movie of all time, one that, in Blackburn’s own words, "fell between the cracks of art film and exploitation film.” A lost relic of sublime American horror films of the 70s, LEMORA needs more love! GET HERE


Andrew Leman’s THE CALL OF THE CTHULHU is not only our most recent Lovecraft horror joint worth of feting, it also happens to be the most unconventional. A silent, 47-minute black and white adaptation of Lovecraft’s most infamous tale, Leman’s love of the material shines through, despite making the film on a paltry $50,000 budget. The aesthetic imagery is unlike anything we’ve ever seen regarding a Lovecraft horror story, and certainly worthy of a look from those who missed it years ago. And not for nothing, but this Leman cat clearly loves him some HP, as evidenced in the only other film he directed, the 1987 adaptation of Lovecraft’s THE TESTIMONY OF RANDOLPH CARTER. Between that 50-minute short and THE CALL OF THE CTHULHU, Leman has gifted us with 97 minutes of heartfelt Lovecraftian terror!


So what do you get when you mix Roger Corman, Vincent Price, Lon Chaney Jr. Edgar Allen Poe and HP Lovecraft? THE HAUNTED PALACE, that’s what! Indeed, this 1963 classic mash-up helmed by the king of low-budget indie cinema (Corman) fuses the twisted musings of Poe’s poem The Haunted Palace with Lovecraft’s short story The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. The result is a wildly amusing blitz of 60s camp-and-kitsch that, in the end, leans far more on Lovecraft’s source material than that of Poe. The 19th century period-set horror tale takes place in the fictional town of Arkham, created by Lovecraft, where a warlock curses a village before being burned at the stake. A century later, the warlock’s ancestor awakens to wreak gruesome comeuppance on the villagers. The flick is probably Corman’s darkest Poe adaptation, mainly due to the lethal Lovecraftian exploits of abject evil! GET HERE


The unofficial Lovecraft leading man – Jeffrey Combs – breaks ranks from his pal Stuart Gordon to give us both a ferocious French accent and jousting Japanese spin on HP’s source material in NECRONOMICON: BOOK OF THE DEAD. The three-part horror anthology is directed by Christophe Gans (BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF, SILENT HILL), Shusuke Kaneko (DEATH NOTE), and Brian Yuzna (BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR), each drawing inspiration from their own chosen Lovecraft short story. While results vary from tale to tale, the overall darkened spirit and restless soul of Lovecraft shines through. Interestingly, Combs was averse to playing Lovecraft, claiming he looked nothing like the famed author. The result? The makeup team turned Combs into a Bruce Campbell lookalike, right down to his scarred chin. Makes sense considering THE EVIL DEAD had its own variation of the Necronomicon! GET HERE


The late great Dan O’Bannon (ALIEN, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD) only directed two features during his illustrious Hollywood career; the aforesaid zombie outing (my all-time favorite zombie flick by the way) and the upsettingly slept-on 1991 horror show THE RESURRECTED. Based on HP Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, the story revolves around a harried wife named Claire Ward (Jane Sibbett) who hires a private-eye (John Terry) to snoop around the cabin belonging to her husband Charles Dexter Ward (the always eerie Chris Sarandon). What the private-dick finds is a century-old curse enveloping the cabin, in which a monstrous maleficent menace mounts unceremonious murder. Translation: old Ward is conducting occult experiments to raise his long-deceased ancestor, Joseph Curwen (also played by Sarandon). A drastic departure from the same tale adapted by Roger Corman 28 years earlier! GET HERE

#2. FROM BEYOND (1986)

If Stuart Gordon isn’t synonymous with H.P Lovecraft, no one is. Indeed, the directorial alter-ego of the infamous horror scribe has been responsible for translating a number of high and low quality Lovecraftian delights to the big and small-screen for decades now. For examples, we could mention DAGON (2001), CASTLE FREAK (1995) and the superb chapter of Masters of Horror he directed, Dreams in the Witch-House (2005). But when all is tallied, it has to be Gordon’s evilly excessive FX-driven exposé, FROM BEYOND, that earns the silver medal around here. Goddamn what a fun and f*cked up film! Reuniting the same above and below the line talent from his previous hit film (hint, scroll one below), in many ways ramping up the exorbitance with its sensorial onslaught of multicolored grue, FROM BEYOND tracks a gaggle of scientists who create a machine called the Resonator, which allows them to perceive supernatural phenomena beyond the realms of reality. And once they do so, they’re targeted by a wealth of weird and wickedly icky creatures made of goopy pink ooze. Beyond insane! GET HERE

#1. RE-ANIMATOR (1985)

What, you really expected a different gold medal recipient? FOH! When you’re bold, brazen and ballsy enough to feature a gorily severed head going down on a hot blonde to perform the kinkiest substrata of pornography – decapitated cunnilingus – I don’t care how oversensitive the protest, YOU’RE A GODDAMN LEGEND! And so, Stuart Gordon’s RE-ANIMATOR, based on Lovecraft’s 1922 novella Herbert West – Re-Animator – and starring the great Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, is the undoubted high-water mark for all of H.P.’s cinematic adaptations. With a pitch-perfect tonal blend of dark humor and stark horror to go with its paragon of makeup and special effects, very few horror films are as fun and eminently watchable from start to finish as RE-ANIMATOR. The gist? Ah hell, you already know. Herbert West, the eccentric doctor with a mordant sense of humor, enlists the help of a med-student (Bruce Abbott) and his girlfriend (Crampton) to reanimate dead tissue cells. Of course, the experiment goes horribly awry and soon the trio is contending with a creepy uncouth coterie of killer zombies! GET HERE

Tags: Hollywood

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