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"Best Lovcraftian-influenced Horror film?" Topic

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16 May 2020 4:44 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2020 10:03 p.m. PST

Horror or Cosmic Horror.

For me, Cabin in the Woods:

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2020 1:06 a.m. PST

None of them, they just creep me out!

Chuckaroobob16 May 2020 4:24 a.m. PST

I've always liked "From Beyond." And yes, "Cabin in the Woods" is spectacular!

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP16 May 2020 4:33 a.m. PST

It's a tie: High School Musical or Bring It On – Cults. Chanting. Nefarious Plots. Deception. Global domination of evil.

Honorable Mention: Freaky Friday, either version. link link

IMHO, Lovecraft does not transfer well to the screen. Or the tabletop. That doesn't mean it can't be done. It just means it is very difficult. It is too easy in either medium to turn it into Monster of the Week. I like MOTW, but it is not Lovecraftian horror.

Plus, those other movies really creep me out.

YogiBearMinis16 May 2020 5:01 a.m. PST

I think John Carpenter's (sort of his) In the Mouth of Madness is hands down the best and in a class by itself. all the others I have seen have either cheesy special effects that ruin the mood, or slide into horror MOTW scenes, or have horrific acting.

I agree it is difficult to translate to screen, but I think it is more because filmmakers who try seem fixated on developing standard horror tropes from Lovecraft in a visual sense, and completely miss the creepy weirdness and doom which is the beauty of his fiction. That is why Mouth of Madness in my estimation is the best and only movie (I can recall) which works, because it does focus so much more on the mental state and such of the protagonist.

Captain Oblivious16 May 2020 6:10 a.m. PST

I agree with Yogi. In the Mouth of Madness is the best non-campy Lovecraftian film.

Beowulf Fezian16 May 2020 6:42 a.m. PST

The Endless is an excellent movie. True Detective season 1 was a spectacular example on how to do Lovecraft well. And the Colour Out of Space was good.

Giles the Zog16 May 2020 7:23 a.m. PST

True Detective season 1…the black stars are rising.

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2020 7:54 a.m. PST

The actual answer is John Carpenter's The Thing.

Next question.

YogiBearMinis16 May 2020 9:38 a.m. PST

Ok, I am not sure I agree with "The Thing" even though his version is incredible, that makes me think about "Prince of Darkness" which is a very under appreciated film.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2020 9:56 a.m. PST

Your stay-at-home movie list.

I like John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness and The Thing for good cinematic approaches to Lovecraft, but I haven't yet seen the middle movie of the trilogy, Prince of Darkness.

Carpenter's The Thing is actually based on the 1938 story Who Goes There? by John Campbell. I have no idea whether Campbell was influenced by Lovecraft, and have never read Who Goes There?, but it is available as a free pdf file here (and has now entered my "read while staying at home" list):

PDF link

The Endless is very well done and has very much the feeling of Lovecraft's work.

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society has made a few films based explicitly on Lovecraft stories:

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2020 11:18 a.m. PST

I agree that Lovecraft is difficult to translate to screen and tabletop. Much of Lovecraft's work revolves around the protagonist dealing with a new knowledge, that underlying the ordinary reality that we all perceive is something truly malevolent, horrifying, and powerful. That doesn't make particularly good performance or gameplay, but it does make good reading.

What I've found to work best for Lovecraft-inspired gaming is to set the game in the ordinary world and not let the players know that they're in a Lovecraft game. The risk is that the players will have a negative reaction when they find out what the game really is, but so far I've been lucky, even in convention games.

Wilf1235816 May 2020 12:54 p.m. PST

I enjoyed the The Mist, had some Lovecraftian plot vibes.

Extrabio194716 May 2020 4:55 p.m. PST

In the hands of the right director, "Shadow Over Innsmouth" could be a tremendous movie.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2020 5:47 p.m. PST

Mist was amazing, can't believe I forgot that!

Zephyr116 May 2020 8:16 p.m. PST

The Evil Dead (as it has a Necronomicon in it… ;-)

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2020 10:00 p.m. PST

I'm giving Mouth of Madness a try. Thnx.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2020 11:04 p.m. PST

Much of The X-Files has a Lovecraftian feeling, too.

The X-Files episode Our Town has a lot in common with Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Personal logo mrwigglesworth Supporting Member of TMP17 May 2020 4:40 a.m. PST

Try "The Void". Cosmic, creepy, cult's and weird.
I believe Netflix and Amazon have it.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP17 May 2020 7:07 a.m. PST

"Prince of Darkness" which is a very under appreciated film.

I love that film! Beyond seeing it for a dollar in college and having two female friends remora-like attached to me for basically the whole flick, it did a good job at the bit I said was difficult (not impossible) and wasn't just a STD (summon the devil) movie. Plus, Alice Cooper was a homeless guy, mind controlled zombie, impales a dude with a bicycle, and explodes into a swarm of bugs (much better than Monster Dog).

While not a Lovecraft canon piece, it certainly does have a Lovecraftian "incomprehensible ancient impending evil that drives good people mad as it is gradually revealed" feel. The concept that evil is part of the quantum state of all matter also provide another Lovecraftian bit – science and the supernatural are indistinguishable at some level and both of them want to kill you.

Mirosav17 May 2020 9:01 a.m. PST

I have to split my vote between Mouth of Madness and Prince of Darkness. Neither explicitly based on a Lovecraft story but they both have the right atmosphere.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP17 May 2020 1:37 p.m. PST

Void was fun. One of the better Cult movies I've seen.

For anyone who liked Void or Doomsday Cult themed movies check out both "The Endless"
and "The Invitation".

DyeHard17 May 2020 8:41 p.m. PST

I would suggest Annihilation (2018)

Not in a Lovecraft setting, but capturing the real feel of his work.

TNE230018 May 2020 6:41 a.m. PST

hate to say it but

"From Beyond"

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP18 May 2020 9:47 p.m. PST


Try "The Void". Cosmic, creepy, cult's and weird.
I believe Netflix and Amazon have it.

Thanks. I look forward to watching it some night. With headphones on. After my wife has gone to sleep. In another room.

And thanks to Uesugi Kenshin, DyeHard, and TNE2300 -- look forward to those, as well.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2020 9:20 a.m. PST

So late last night, I did a search on my streaming Prime channel for "Lovecraft", which resulted in several categories, of which I chose "Lovecraft movies" (another option was "Lovecraftian movies"). There were a lot of movies, including some mentioned above. I didn't make a list.

I propose that if you have Prime or any other streaming services, you do a search for Lovecraft (or maybe Cthulhu) and watch what looks interesting, and if you find something particularly good, mention it here. I'll do the same.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2020 8:32 p.m. PST

OK, here's my first report:


Black Mountain Side (2014)

Not Rated | 1h 39min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

At a cold, desolate, northmost outpost in Canada, an archaeological discovery is made. A specialist arrives Nov. 1. Strange things happen. All contact with the outside world is down.

My comments:
Petty, spiteful, being with great power torments and kills a bunch of learned men. Some interesting archaeological discussion is undercut by not showing the extent of the dig site to justify the size of crew. Effective use of Lovecraftian technique of not showing, but only talking about, images seen on artifacts.

Good cinematography, and beautiful indoor and outdoor sets. Fairly believable characters, each of whom is both a scientist and a tough, competent, outdoorsman, which is just what's needed for an archaeological dig in the extreme far north of Canada.

Recommendation: See it for free on Amazon Prime.

von Schwartz30 May 2020 5:05 p.m. PST

I gotta agree with many of the posts, as a long time fan of Lovecraft and his protégé, August Derleth, their writings do not generally transfer well to film (how can you film something, and I paraphrase, "more odious than the slime upon the walls of hell")? As a native of Minnesota and frequent traveler to Wisconsin, some of Derleth's stories that were set in northern Wisconsin gave me the "willies", and still do.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP31 May 2020 6:30 p.m. PST

Next up:

The Kettering Incident (tv series 2016)

Doctor Anna Macy finds herself inexplicably linked to the disappearance of two girls, fifteen years apart.

My comments:

Tasmania reminds me of northwest Washington state or British Columbia (where much of The X-Files was filmed). Many elements here will satisfy Lovecraft fans, such as transformation horror, things that only some people can see, and the insane asylum. We binge-watched like 6 or 7 episodes last night, and will finish it tonight -- it's that captivating.

Everyone has at least one skeleton in the closet to keep hidden from everyone else (which would make kind of a fun boardgame: solve the mystery that affects all players without your dirty laundry being aired).

Beautiful backgrounds beautifully shot; great characters, all with closet skeletons to keep hidden; drugs; corrupt cops; diseases; and strange lights on the mountaintop.

Free with Amazon Prime.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Jun 2020 3:47 a.m. PST

@von Schwartz (or anyone interested in this thread, really) – Have you been to the Lovecraft special collection at the library at Brown University? link

It contains a ton of stuff from his writers' circle, including a lot of August Derleth material, of which I am also a big fan. There are a bunch of preserved letters written to Lovecraft including ones from August Derleth and Robert Howard.

It is a very genre appropriate thing to be reading through old letters and trying to deduce the secrets written in the ones that are missing (Lovecraft's, since he didn't keep his own letters, he sent them; though I believe there are a few donated from other collections now).

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP04 Jun 2020 10:11 p.m. PST

Thanks for the tip on the Lovecraft special collection.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP05 Jun 2020 7:07 p.m. PST

HBO will have a new series called Lovecraft Country this summer:


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