10 Best Lovecraft Adaptations Every Horror Fan Must Watch, Ranked by IMDb

10 Best Lovecraft Adaptations Every Horror Fan Must Watch, Ranked by IMDb
Image credit: Filmax International, Empire Pictures

Adapting Lovecraft is a tough job, but these movies did their best.

Howard P. Lovecraft is one of the few horror masters of the 20th century who was able to create something truly terrifying. You not only want to read about his eerie worlds, you want to see them on the big screen, in movies made with all the power of modern cinema.

The problem is not that Lovecraft adaptations are few and often weak. The main problem is that even the best adaptations of his books are a very specific spectacle.

10. Bleeders, 1997

IMDb Rating: 4.3/10

The movie, directed by Peter Svatek, is based on the short story The Lurking Fear. The main character, a descendant of a family degenerated by incest and mutations, comes to the island where his family's old home is located. A young man is dying of a genetic blood disease and wants to know more about his ancestors.

Strangely enough, Bleeders is one of the best Lovecraft adaptations. Not only because it is as close to the original as possible, but also because the movie shows not only the mystical but also the dramatic side of the story. The protagonist, on the verge of death, painfully tries to find himself in a world that has changed.

9. The Dunwich Horror, 1970

IMDb Rating: 5.4/10

Wilbur Whateley goes to the library where he asks for the book Necronomicon, a rare publication containing terrible spells. But the librarian refuses to give Wilbur the book, which is kept under lock and key.

In the reading room, Wilbur meets a girl, Nancy, whom he invites home – he plans to use her in the ritual of sacrifice.

Though the 1970 Dunwich Horror is inferior to the 2009 adaptation in terms of visuals, it carefully preserves the atmosphere of the Lovecraftian style: a mysterious castle, a terrible secret of one family, chilling horror, and a mystical creature that haunts its victims in their dreams and in reality.

8. Dagon, 2001

IMDb Rating: 6.2/10

Despite the very unflattering ratings and reviews, Dago is still considered one of the most successful Lovecraft adaptations.

The main characters, Paul and Barbara, find themselves on an island whose inhabitants are behaving strangely. After a series of mysterious events, they discovered that the entire population of the town of Innsmouth are servants of the sea god Dagon, using women as incubators to increase the population. And the same fate awaits Barbara.

7. The Resurrected, 1991

IMDb Rating: 6.2/10

Dan O'Bannon, the man responsible for writing the script for Alien, has tried his hand at directing a few times. Six years after the release of his debut The Return of the Living Dead, he released the direct-to-video horror The Resurrected. The movie, like many Lovecraft adaptations, is far from ideal, but it is one of the most accurate and one of the most sinister ones.

The story of a woman whose husband turns out to be an evil sorcerer is told by O'Bannon with such awe that even compared to higher-budget, higher-quality films, his work remains extremely interesting.

6. The Color Out of Space, 2010

IMDb Rating: 6.2/10

Nicolas Cage and his recent Lovecraft adaptation won't be on this list, but there will be room for Huan Vu's strange adaptation. The plot of his movie is about a boy named Jonathan who goes to Germany in search of his father. In one of the villages, he meets a man who tells him what happened to one of his parents.

It is a black and white movie made in the spirit of German expressionism, with its eerie and sharp shadows. And when in the finale, in the midst of the black and white madness, the mysterious pink color appears, one can experience real primitive fear.

5. The Whisperer in Darkness, 2011

IMDb Rating: 6.5/10

Folklorist and university literature professor Albert Wilmarth decides to investigate the authenticity of the stories about strange creatures that appeared in the rivers after the flood.

In his film, director Sean Branney takes his inspiration from the first sound films of the 30s and the sci-fi projects of the 50s with its cheap costumes and ridiculous sets.

This is an adaptation that combines the director's unique approach with the mystical and fantastic motifs of Lovecraft’s works in such a way that the synergy creates a spectacular show.

4. From Beyond, 1986

IMDb Rating: 6.6/10

The director of the cult Re-Animator Stuart Gordon decided to repeat the success of the acclaimed movie and one year later he made a Lovecraft adaptation again.

The plot revolves around the physicist Edward Pretorious and his assistant Crawford Tillinghast. Their invention allows them to open a portal to other worlds and interact with creepy creatures that live in other dimensions. But the experiment does not go as planned, and the monsters begin to terrorize the scientists.

Lovecraft's fear of the unknown and creepy makeup unfortunately did not help the movie at the box office – it flopped and started a period of failures in Gordon's career. But years later, From Beyond, like the director's previous work, became a cult classic among fans of the genre.

3. In the Mouth of Madness, 1994

IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

John Carpenter’s film The Thing and the original story by John W. Campbell Jr. on which it was based were inspired by one of the most memorable episodes of Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness, in which a group of explorers discover unknown creatures that have never existed on Earth, frozen in the ice.

In 1994, Carpenter released the most popular unofficial Lovecraft adaptation, In the Mouth of Madness. The director himself considers the movie the completion of his Apocalypse Trilogy, which also includes The Thing and Prince of Darkness.

The plot tells the story of Sutter Cane, a writer whose books literally drive readers crazy. The writer of horror novels disappeared two months ago. To find him, the publisher hires insurance agent John Trent, and his search leads him to a town described in the book.

2. The Call of Cthulhu, 2005

IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

The film, which is only 47 minutes long and stylized like a black-and-white silent movie of the 20s, was released directly on DVD, so not many people know about it – yet it is one of the best Lovecraft adaptations to date.

As director Andrew Leman showed, you can make a perfectly decent movie about the terrible ancient deity Cthulhu sleeping at the bottom of the ocean, even for $50,000 – if you really want to.

1. Re-Animator, 1985

IMDb Rating: 7.2/10

Herbert West is an ambitious young scientist on the verge of a great discovery. He has invented a special reagent that can revive dead creatures. There's just one problem. For some reason, the "reanimated" come back from the afterlife and try to kill everyone around them.

The film adaptation of Howard Lovecraft's story Herbert West–Reanimator in the hands of director Stuart Gordon deviated noticeably from the original and turned into a cruel parody of Frankenstein. With tons of inventive violence, colorful characters and non-stop madness reigning on the screen.