Lovecraftian Horror in Film: 4 Most Accurate Book-to-Movie Adaptations

Lovecraftian Horror in Film: 4 Most Accurate Book-to-Movie Adaptations
Image credit: Empire International Pictures

Lost hope in Lovecraft adaptations? These movies will restore it.

Anyone interested in fantasy and science fiction is familiar with H.P. Lovecraft, the master of horror, mystery and the unknown.

It’s difficult to find a truly worthwhile movie based on his books. There is an explanation for this: it is incredibly hard to adapt the works of an author whose favorite topics are cosmic horror and forms that defy human understanding.

However, there have been a number of films that have been faithful to the original text, but at the same time have managed to become interesting.

1. The Dunwich Horror (1970)

Based on the 1929 story of the same name, this movie is one of the closest adaptations to the original source. Lovecraft considered The Dunwich Horror to be one of his best works, and critics and biographers have consistently placed it at the top of their lists.

The film itself is notable not only for staying close to the source text, but also for its period-reflective visual aesthetic. And of course, in 2009, the movie has been reshot for television – and it's better to pretend that this version doesn't exist in our universe and that you've never heard of it.

2. Re-Animator (1985)

There is a certain irony in the fact that the work that Lovecraft himself considered to be one of his weakest has spawned one of the most popular and high-quality movies. Re-Animator is undoubtedly an eternal classic of Lovecraftian cinema and one of the most accurate adaptations of the story in terms of the plot.

The director kept most of the story, changing only a few time-sensitive details related to setting the film in the 1980s instead of the early 20th century.

3. The Whisperer in Darkness (2011)

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society actually took part in making this movie. The film is an almost verbatim retelling of Lovecraft's source text – except for the last third, which was changed to fit the movie's narrative.

Unfortunately, the adaptation remains little known outside the circle of hardcore Lovecraft fans, although it has been shown at festivals and received much praise from critics.

4. Necronomicon (1993)

This movie is an anthology based on three of Lovecraft's works: The Rats in the Walls, The Cold, and The Whisperer in the Darkness. The adaptation was made by three directors: Brian Yuzna, Christophe Gans, and Shusuke Kaneko.

The second and third short stories turned out to be the closest to the source texts, but in terms of the atmosphere, all three plots turned out to be distinctly different, as they should.