Top 25 Best Lovecraftian Movies You Need To Watch

Lovecraftian Movies
Why are boss monsters always on the cover of these things?

What are some Lovecraftian movies right now?

If you are reading this you most likely know of the Lovecraftian genre (otherwise known as Cosmic Horror), and of its founder, H.P. Lovecraft.

A realm where mankind is made insignificant by the machinations of great, elder powers and secret societies who are pulling all the strings. If you’re like me, dear reader, then watching these disturbing ideas come to the silver screen is what you want most in life.

You’ve probably pirated as many of the copies as you could get your hands on, but pirate no further. For here is a list of great movies (some mainstream, others much more indie) that all deal with Lovecraft’s core message: Fear of the Unknown. As well as, technology going to far, eldritch abominations, insanity, and a few others.

Enjoy!

25. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Blair Witch Project - Trailer

The Blair Witch Project is a horror classic, being the original breakout hit of the “found footage” horror genre. If Lovecraft himself had access to the idea of found footage I’m sure it would as a frequent a trope as his “lost letters from my ancestor”.

The movie focuses on a group of college students shooting a documentary over the infamous Blair Witch (a local folk tale) when they get lost in the woods, forcing them to test if the Blair Witch is truly a folk tale or not. A slow burn scare, focusing on atmosphere and worldbuilding over cheap jump scares, forcing the viewer to wonder when (if ever) the Blair Witch will rear her wretched head.

Fun Fact

The ad campaign for this movie was to sell it as a real found footage story. The actors were paid extra to stay off of social media for the entire production and a years after to sell the facade.

24. A Cure for Wellness

A Cure for Wellness

A Cure for Wellness is a psychological horror, drawing heavily on the Lovecraft’s favorite motif, the fear of the unknown. The entire movie has you asking the question, “What is happening? Why is… Oh my god!”

The plot centers around a company executive being sent to recover the company’s CEO who put himself in a “wellness center”. One thing leads to another, and the executive gets stuck in the center himself, being experimented on while the mad scientist behind it all attempts to find “the cure for wellness”. If you have a weak stomach, perhaps this one is not for you, because this movie gives a new definition to the term body horror.

Fun Fact

The film was promoted with a set of three “guided meditation videos” that help set the scene for the movie. Each one can be found on Youtube and is some of the creepiest stuff you’ll ever see.

23. Flatliners (1999)

Flatliners (1999) Trailer

Following Lovecraft’s fear of technology going too far, and revealing things to humanity that shouldn’t be revealed, Flatliners is about a group of med school students who attempt to find out what happens after you die. To accomplish this, they “flatline” each other (stop their heartbeats with defibrillators) only to brought back minutes later with new found knowledge.

They begin to get vivid hallucinations, dark secrets are unveiled, and the dirty truth claws its way out. While this isn’t specifically a horror film, as it has multiple elements from several genres, it’s ideas are Lovecraftian by nature. What’s seen cannot be unseen.

Fun Fact

The movie was based off of a few real-life stories where patients who had died (for any number of reasons) and had to be brought back be defibrillator really did have visions of an afterlife.

22. Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant

Ok, I’m not afraid to admit that Alien: Covenant was my first Alien movie. Well, beyond ET, but I don’t think they’re related (conspiracy?). Alien: Covenant is definitely inside the realm of Lovecraft, with ignorant humans wandering onto alien ruins and dealing with the aftermath. It’s very similar to In the Mountains of Madness, just replace shoggoths with xenomorphs.

The movie centers around a crew of married couples trying to land a colony ship on a new planet. But the one they're going to is just so far, they decide to take a detour to an earthlike planet where unannounced to them, a bunch of xenomorphs hang out on the weekends. Shocker.

They then proceed to make every horror movie mistake ever, and it's so fun to scream at the screen for them to stop and think for “just literally two seconds”. An amazing film, and not the worst starting point for the series (but I wouldn’t recommend it).

Fun Fact

The story is centered around a planet once ruled by the Engineers (the pre-generator race), and the ruins were made to look both alien, and to be reminiscent of a fallen Rome.

21. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Night of the living dead (1968) TRAILER

The original Night of the Living Dead by the late great George A Romero is one of the titular titles of horror. Although, you can tell its influence by Lovecraft from the fact that there is no clear victory, surviving a single night is a victory in and of itself. The only explanation they have for the resurrection of the populace as undead is that “it came from the stars”, a pulp trope Lovecraft used many-a-time in his own works.

The plot revolves around a group of survivors attempting to make it through the night while a horde of zombies attempts to lay siege to the house they sought shelter in. There are betrayals, forays, epic fight scenes, and cheesy dialogue.

Fun Fact

Made in 1968, this was both the first zombie (using the modern idea of zombies at least) and the first movie with a black lead. Both of which the director did on accident.

20. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers Official Trailer #1 - Donald Sutherland Movie (1978) HD

The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) is my personal favorite interpretation of the book, as it spread the paranoia that frequented the cold war era in which it was made to a modern audience. It’s ideas of “it came from space”, and that things are already in motion, there’s no stopping the inevitable echo Lovecraft beautifully.

The plot focuses in on a man and woman living their lives when they begin to recognize something weird is happening to their co-workers. It is revealed (this is not a spoiler) that alien plants have landed on earth, cloning people while they sleep and devouring the remains. These clones are emotionless and want nothing but conformity.

Reminds me of my brother in law.

Fun Fact

The movie is based on a book of the same name which is much more… relaxed than the film. The film’s tone of constant paranoia reflect the McCarthyism of the era and was made to warn about the dangers of conformity.

19. The Last Exorcism

The Last Exorcism

The Last Exorcism is a masterpiece of cinema that follows many Lovecraftian tropes. The main character is a doubting Thomas and who is presented with a circumstance that makes him question almost anything. Paranoia spreads through the viewer and the characters, making everyone involved feel disempowered as the clock ticks by.

The main character, Cotton Marcus, is a southern preacher and exorcist who (spoiler alert) is himself an atheist. When called on to perform an exorcism, he goes through the motions, believing that the mere actions he performs give peace the mind of the “possessed”. However, the case gets complicated, the “possessed” girl is sick and the father believes only faith can heal her, but the preacher recommends a hospital.

The whole movie has you on the edge, wondering if the possession is real or not, and really makes you think about the real horror the girl's situation.

Fun Fact

One of the crew members brothers was a real exorcist. They asked him for advice on the specifics of the ceremonies a few times, even having him cameo during one of Cotton’s sermons.

18. A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place is a handful of Lovecraftian ideas, such as star vampires and flying polyps, and puts them into a film that is beautifully cinematographed. Existential threats, the futility of mankind, the disempowering of humanity as eldritch abominations are released across the globe, all are seen in A Quiet Place.

The movie is about a family (quite possibly one of the last families on earth) who live in the woods, unable to make loud noises less they attract evil abominations of unknown origins. Don’t be confused, these abominations are almost entirely unbeatable, and their existence is a watermark on the suicide note of the last remnants of mankind. This is definitely one of the scariest films I’ve seen in a while, highly recommended.

Fun Fact

The film was praised by Stephen King on Twitter as “an extraordinary piece of work”. It also is an interesting allegory for parenthood.

17. Aliens

[Aliens][1986][Trailer]

Aliens, the sequel to the critically acclaimed movie Alien, is a brilliant example of how good wordplay can be both funny and informative. This sequel has many of the same Lovecraftian elements as before, alien races neutral to the existence of humanity that decides having us around is too much work, mankind unknowingly releasing their doom, as well as unstoppable aberrations that defy explanation.

Aliens follow a group of colonial marines who know how to react to a space monster attack, which is a breath of fresh air compared to most horror movies. They move in group, hunker down, play to the corners. The only one among that makes terrible decisions is the officer in charge of the squad.

A fantastic piece of survival horror, highly recommended.

Fun Fact

The scene where the marines play perform the “knife trick” (which we know today as the knife game) was not part of the script but was decided by all of the actors as an interesting scene. All actors except Bill Paxton, who’s hand they used to play the knife game.

16. Prometheus

Prometheus

Prometheus is another entry from the Alien series of films, but this time with a distinct lack of aliens. Instead of this being classic survival horror, it is a psychological horror, centering the ideas of humanity not being at the center of the universe and that we are merely pawns in another greater civilization’s game.

The story focuses on a team of scientists exploring an ancient, lost civilizations ruins on a faraway planet. While there they awaken powers that should have been left untouched and uncover a new and important chapter of the Alien cinematic universe.

Fun Fact

The ad campaign for the movie completely avoided the fact it was a part of the Alien franchise, focusing on the fact that it was a “deep space horror” instead.

15. The Thing (1982)

The Thing

The Thing is an excellent horror flick, featuring a team of American scientists in Antartica who naively think they can solve the threat by using science and reasoning. But as we all know, Lovecraft fans, horrors from beyond comprehension cannot be defeated with such petty tricks as “understanding”.

This movie retains the theme of survival horror while mixing in a healthy dose of body horror to make the strongest of us look away. If you’re looking for a story of despair and paranoia, there are few better options.

Fun Fact

When the Thing originally came out it was very poorly received, the only thing that kept this movie from becoming forgotten was a loyal cult fanbase that helped resurface it in recent times.

If you still have questions after watching the Thing, check YouTube for an insane amount of fan theories.

14. Pet Sematary

Pet Sematary

Stephen King’s writing is truly incredible, some of his movie adaptations are the same way. Pet Sematary is a perfect example of one of those amazing movie adaptations. Its story includes forgotten god-like beings, mankind's folly, dreams of immortality, the usual Lovecraft motifs.

The movie follows a family who recently moved into a town in New England. There, they encounter the town’s strange populace and learn of the mysterious pet cemetery in the woods, created by the town’s kids due to the high death rate of family pets. Revealing any more would spoil the story, so I’ll leave it there for now, but it is a mystery to be solved and a psychological horror to be experienced.

Fun Fact

The entire movie focuses on the acceptance of death as a theme. Something I think Lovecraft would promote himself, humans aren’t meant to meddle in the affairs of the preordained after all.

13. The Mist (2007)

The Mist

Cthulhu walking through a creepy mist on his way to do god knows what while his minions lay siege to a corner store? Yes, please.

The Mist is another Stephen King adaptation that focuses on a store full of survivors who narrowly avoided being absorbed by a mysterious fog that has crept across the whole town. No one knows why, no knows how, and no one knows when it will let up. Time always marches forward, will the survivors be able to escape?

This movie will give you a lot to think about, the fact it never saw a theatrical release is astounding. It is a shining example of why the Sci-Fi channel is still great.

Fun Fact

Stephen King got the idea for his novella when he was shopping at a grocery store and noticed the front windows were plate glass. His immediate thought, “What if a giant insect flew against it?

12. Event Horizon

Event Horizon

Describing this movie is hard, as almost any amount of information would give away the plot, so be prepared for a threadbare description. I preface this with the fact that Event Horizon is hands down one of the best Lovecraftian horror films of all time. It includes other dimensions, insanity, humans digging too deep, body horror, unspeakable fear, pieces of the past being uncovered to better explain the present, the list goes on and on.

The plot focuses on the crew of the Lewis and Clark, a rescue vessel, attempting to figure out what happened to the Event Horizon, a ship that experienced deep space travel, only to return spontaneously near Neptune. Before setting they have only one thing to go on. A voice transmission was sent back to Earth with screams and cries of agony, accompanied by a single recognizable phrase, “liberatis me” (Latin for “save me”).

Fun Fact

There was so much gore in the original screening that members of the test audience fainted due to horror. Not even joking.

11. Cloverfield

Cloverfield

Finally, a monster movie that is from a normal person’s point of view, not the military or the monster’s. An unimaginable large creature running amok across New York, with Lovecraftian horrors sewing chaos among the survivors. This is a “point of view” film, taking by a survivor with a camcorder, who is attempting to escape the chaos with his friends the night of the monster’s release upon the world.

This was possibly the first horror movie I’ve ever seen, and the experience of it is unforgettable. There is no escape, only more horror.

Fun Fact

Cloverfield was supposed to launch a whole new cinematic universe of movies that cover the monsters involved in the disaster. Unfortunately, the other films are subpar and don’t help expand the lore at all. Disappointing really.

10. Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods

Dark, forgotten gods require sacrifice in the form of horror B-movies in order to satiate their appetites and allow for mankind to continue unimpeded. Their cult is worldwide, and the American department is in charge of making sure the ritual runs smoothly. With the methodical execution of 5 archetypal teenagers.

That’s right, this is more of a horror comedy, taking classic horror ideas for a spin. However, it does have strong Lovecraftian influences and makes washed up ideas feel unique again.

Fun Fact

The movie is based on a book of the same name which was written as a satire of the entire horror genre. If you pull back far enough, we the audience are meant to represent the dark, shadowy gods with all the power, who demand more blood to be shed.

9. Alien

Alien

Finally, we make it to the origin of the Alien franchise. The original work of Ridley Scott, posing a group of scientists (see a trend here?) against the mighty xenomorph, is a prime example of taking Lovecraftian cosmic horror and mixing it expertly with survival horror.

As highly recommended as anything can be (if you haven’t already seen it).

Fun Fact

The scene (spoilers) where the alien first chest bursts out of Kane was not previewed by the actors. That is their honest reactions to having an alien shoot out of their friend’s chest.

8. Annihilation

Annihilation

Natalie Portman is a scientist, tasked with entering an ever-expanding sphere of alien energy (codenamed the Glimmer) to reach the epicenter, hopefully, to find its source. Oh, and her husband, an elite, special ops soldier with the US military, went missing inside of it. Her allies on this journey, more non-military scientists.

Honestly, the whole story seems like something Lovecraft could have written himself. Unknowing protagonists who are smart in many things but not the supernatural, horrible monsters, insanity, impossible to understand aliens, the works. Fantastic movie, less of horror, more of an adventure movie with many psychological and body horror elements.

Fun Fact

The movie is actually an adaptation from a novel of the same title. The book is part of a trilogy, so hopefully, we can expect more movies like this in the future.

7. Hellboy (2004)

Hellboy

If you haven’t seen Hellboy I do not know how to save you from your fate of never experiencing true art, other than by telling you to WATCH HELLBOY. The son of the Fallen One, raised by a 1940s occultist who works with the BPRD (Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense) to stop the coming of the dark gods from beyond our realm of existence. And he’s played by Ron Pearlman.

Hellboy is definitely a Lovecraftian work, with many of its most signature creatures being indescribable tentacle abominations with names like the Ogdru Jahad. Truly, this is a masterpiece.

Fun Fact

Hellboy is based off of a comic book series of the same name that is even more heavily inspired by Lovecraft. If you are any fan of HP and his work, maybe you should check out the comic as well.

6. Overlord

Overlord

Operation: Overlord, the landing on the beaches of Normandy. How can we make a movie that is even more intense than that? By introducing nazis performing Lovecraftian experiments to make super soldiers that can only be stopped by a handful of American soldiers, flown in before the operation takes place.

This movie is an action-packed horror fest full of some of the most harrowing images that scare me to this day.

Fun Fact

(Spoilers) The opening sequence in which the plane explodes and many of the soldiers fall through the flames was done by setting a fake plane on a rig, actually blowing up the front, and sending real stuntmen through the flames. Hardcore.

5. The Void

The Void

A hospital is laid siege to by a hooded cult while those inside slowly uncovers the hidden experiments done by a mad scientist in an attempt to awaken ancient, inter-dimensional powers to become immortal. This is a beautiful example of how cosmic horror can be included in a modern setting to great effect. One of the best movies I’ve seen in years, with enough twists and turns to make you concerned for your own sanity.

Fun Fact

The filmmakers actually got their idea for the project when they heard that Guillermo del Toro was working on an In the Mountains of Madness movie. This gives proof to the fact this is a movie HEAVILY inspired by Lovecraft’s works.

4. The Endless

The Endless

Another movie by the filmmakers who set out to bring stories of cosmic horror to the silver screen, The Endless is about two brothers who have escaped from a UFO death cult wanting to return as life outside of it is so much harder. The story is compelling even though its quite obvious the budget was very small.

This is the kind of movie you find when looking really hard on Netflix, not knowing if it’s going to be worth it. Trust me when I say, it's worth it.

Fun Fact

(Spoilers?) At one point in the film, Benson (one of the brothers) is being shown a card trick by a member of the cult. He draws the King of Hearts (otherwise known as the Suicide King). Now that is foreshadowing.

3. Dagon

Dagon

If you thought that The Endless had a small budget, prepare to be blown away. Dagon (contrary to its name) is a loose movie adaptation of Lovecraft’s short story Shadow Over Innsmouth. It still includes all of the Lovecraftian ideas from the original short story, with a LOT more action.

The movie follows a classic rich American young adult with his way-to-hot girlfriend and two older parents, sailing their boat across the coast of Spain. All of sudden, a massive tropical storm hits the ship, and the two younger members must go ashore to get help from a humble looking, seaside Spanish village. One thing leads to another, and you get one of the most “What is happening?!” films that I’ve seen in a hot minute.

Fun Fact

The name of the Spanish village is Imboca. In Spanish, Boca means mouth. So, if you try, the name is Im-mouth, very close to the original Innsmouth.

2. Bride of Reanimator

Bride of Reanimator

A sequel to Reanimator (taking its name as a nod to the Bride of Frankenstein) Bride of Reanimator is actually a short story written by HP Lovecraft himself put to film. The correlation between the two is loose, but everything from the first film is here but turned up to 10.

Nudity, up to 10. Gore, up to 10. Gimmicks from the last film, up to 10.

That said, it is still a fantastic movie that is wonderfully adapted from the original work. If wonderful adaptation means “the director read the first short story first, maybe.” Definitely watch the first movie before this one, however, or else nothing will make sense.

Fun Fact

The correlation between the movie and the original writing is so loose, some fans do not consider them related at all. Nonetheless, Lovecraftian tropes are present, and it is a good watch.

1. Reanimator

Reanimator

A loose translation of Lovecraft’s stellar short story onto film, Reanimator is one of the greatest Lovecraftian horror movies of all time. It’s core themes of science going to far and mankind meddling in places it shouldn’t are perfect for any horror movie fan, much more so for a cosmic horror fan.

The plot follows Dan Cain, a medical student at the Miskatonic University, and Herbert West, a student kicked out of University of Zurich Institute of Medicine in Switzerland for bringing his professor back to life only for his eyes to explode and he dies again. West moves to New England, joins the Miskatonic Medical wing and he (along with Dan Cain) continue his experiments to give life to dead.

Fun Fact

HP Lovecraft never really enjoyed his Reanimator stories but wrote them because he was given $5 per issue (that’s roughly $75 today).

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